Legal Scholars Call Out Obama’s Trigger Finger; Billions And Billions Poured Into Government ‘Black Budget’ Spy Ops; Understanding Web Privacy; Where’s The Debate In Congress Over Syria?; One Tough iPhone Case— Personal Liberty Digest™ P.M. Edition 8-29-2013

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British Parliament Debates War With Syria, U.S. Congress Vacations

As chatter about the prospect of the United States going maverick in Syria continues, the Nation’s international peers are receiving praise from some U.S. lawmakers for taking a more thoughtful approach to intervening in the Middle Eastern conflict. Read More… 

Government Surveillance Budget Revealed, $52.6 Billion To Spy

The U.S. government has a $52.6 billion “black budget” to operate its massive surveillance assets, according to new documents leaked by National Security Agency whistle-blower Edward Snowden. Read More… 

EFF Explains Perfect Forward Secrecy, an Important Web Privacy Protection

Sites that use perfect forward secrecy can provide better security to users in cases where the encrypted data is being monitored and recorded by a third party. EFF explains the privacy protection and why it matters. Read More… 

2 Scholars Say President Is Misreading His Power To Wage War

Two law scholars said Thursday the White House is incorrectly interpreting “war” to justify military operations reserved only for congressional approval. Read More… 

Need A little Protection With That iPhone? Check Out The Knucklecase

There will always be situations in which packing heat for personal protection isn’t practical or convenient. There are times, too, when even ardent concealed carriers simply forgot to walk out the door with their firearm. And some people who aren’t comfortable toting a gun around everywhere still might like to have something in their hand, purse or pocket that gives them a slight advantage over would-be attackers. Read More…

British Parliament Debates War With Syria, U.S. Congress Vacations

As chatter about the prospect of the United States going maverick in Syria continues, the Nation’s international peers are receiving praise from some U.S. lawmakers for taking a more thoughtful approach to intervening in the Middle Eastern conflict.

Representative Scott Rigell (R-Va.) lauded the British Parliament on Thursday, noting that U.S. lawmakers are still on recess— despite the President’s war rhetoric— while the Brit lawmakers have robustly debated a resolution on military intervention in Syria.

The Parliament, he said, is having a debate, while the United States is not. “Given the history our two Nations,’ he continued, “there is a bit of irony here.”

Rigell said that he is happy to see that the evident slowing in British momentum towards military action has made the White House pull back “just a bit.” The lawmaker also noted that Congressional approval prior to intervention would be a sign of strength for the U.S.

Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) also noted the absence of Congressional debate on the matter.

Cruz tweeted:

Need A little Protection With That iPhone? Check Out The Knucklecase

There will always be situations in which packing heat for personal protection isn’t practical or convenient. There are times, too, when even ardent concealed carriers simply forgot to walk out the door with their firearm. And some people who aren’t comfortable toting a gun around everywhere still might like to have something in their hand, purse or pocket that gives them a slight advantage over would-be attackers.

For those people, there are already a lot of options – but now you can add the concept of encasing your iPhone in metal knuckles machined from a solid block of aluminum to that list.

knukkles

Meet the Knucklecase, an American-made product that promises to protect your iPhone while simultaneously adding a little strategic leverage to your personal protection plan.

We stumbled across the Knucklecase while perusing the internet, so we haven’t actually laid hands on one. But the Facebook comments indicate at least a few people are impressed.

For one thing, most people who fall into the iPhone demographic almost always have their phones on them – even if they’re just hopping out of their car in flip flops and a t-shirt to run into a convenience store or bank. That means Knucklecase owners can carry their protection with them everywhere they carry their phone, without even having to think about it when they leave the house.

For another thing, even though “brass knuckles” are widely regarded as an offensive weapon – one typically stored out of sight and out of mind until their owners are ready to use them in an attack – this device will, by default, often find itself in a phone owner’s hand and ready for defensive use.

The product is (so far) avoiding State-by-State legal grey areas by being sold as a novelty phone case, thought the company helpfully warns air travelers:

TSA loves Knucklecases!  They will hold you up and confiscate them at security so please check yours in.

For now, only iPhone 4 and iPhone 5 models can be outfitted with the Knucklecase. No word on whether an Android smartphone version is in the works.

Government Surveillance Budget Revealed, $52.6 Billion To Spy

The U.S. government has a $52.6 billion “black budget” to operate its massive surveillance assets, according to new documents leaked by National Security Agency whistle-blower Edward Snowden.

The documents, which were publicized in an article by The Washington Times, reveal that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the National Security Agency (NSA) and National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) receive about two-thirds of the massive budget.

The paper also reports that CIA and NSA budgets have increased by over 50 percent each since 2004.

Here are some key takeaways from the Post piece:

•Spending by the CIA has surged past that of every other spy agency, with $14.7 billion in requested funding for 2013. The figure vastly exceeds outside estimates and is nearly 50 percent above that of the National Security Agency, which conducts eavesdropping operations and has long been considered the behemoth of the community.

•The CIA and the NSA have begun aggressive new efforts to hack into foreign computer networks to steal information or sabotage enemy systems, embracing what the budget refers to as “offensive cyber-operations.”

•The NSA planned to investigate at least 4,000 possible insider threats in 2013, cases in which the agency suspected sensitive information may have been compromised by one of its own. The budget documents show that long before Snowden’s leaks, the U.S. intelligence community worried about “anomalous behavior” by personnel with access to highly classified material.

•U.S. intelligence officials take an active interest in foes as well as friends. Pakistan is described in detail as an “intractable target,” and counterintelligence operations “are strategically focused against [the] priority targets of China, Russia, Iran, Cuba and Israel.” The latter is a U.S. ally but has a history of espionage attempts against the United States.

•In words, deeds and dollars, intelligence agencies remain fixed on terrorism as the gravest threat to national security, which is listed first among five “mission objectives.” Counterterrorism programs employ one in four members of the intelligence workforce and account for one-third of all spending.

•The governments of Iran, China and Russia are difficult to penetrate, but North Korea’s may be the most opaque. There are five “critical” gaps in U.S. intelligence about Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programs, and analysts know virtually nothing about the intentions of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

The budget leak also reveals that the United States has spent more than $500 billion on intelligence since the 9/11 terror attacks.

Carson Huey-Yu, 11, Youngest Student Ever At Texas Christian U.

FORT WORTH, Texas, (UPI) — An 11-year-old aspiring physicist and “Star Wars” fan has become the youngest student ever in the history of Texas Christian University.

Carson Huey-Yu graduated in May as a co-valedictorian from the Accommodated Learning Academy in Grapevine when he was still 10, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported. His mother drives him to TCU in Fort Worth from their home in Southlake — after dropping his younger brother at school — and then spends the day on campus with him.

Claretta Huey-Yu said her son, still less than 5 feet tall, needs help with his backpack.

“It weighs more than he does,” she said.

Carson said he notices people noticing him as he moves from class to class, especially on his first day last week.

“People definitely noticed,” Carson said. “There was definitely some whispering in the back of the class.”

Carson, who wants to be a quantum physicist, is taking physics, math, history and religion in his first semester.

Huey-Yu said her son was reading by the age of 2, and enjoyed numbers and math from an early age. He is also a self-taught pianist.

Carson also likes “Star Wars” movies and “Mine Craft,” a video game that involves building with cubes.

Monopoly Sets With Newest Token, The Cat, Hit Stores

PAWTUCKET, R.I., (UPI) — The newest Monopoly token, a cat, is in the copies of the game now hitting stores, U.S. toy manufacturer Hasbro announced Wednesday.

The token is a tiny feline about a half inch long and half inch high, Gizmodo.com said. It replaces the flatiron, which has been in the game since 1935, and joins the wheelbarrow, battleship, racecar, thimble, shoe, Scottie dog and the iconic top hat.

Hasbro, based in Pawtucket, R.I., announced in February the cat had won an online vote, defeating a robot, helicopter, guitar and diamond ring.

While some of the tokens date back to the early editions of Monopoly, then manufactured by Parker Brothers in Salem, Mass., there have been changes over the years. There are also differences in the many international editions of Monopoly, such as the koala in Australia and beaver in Canada.

Monopoly is based on The Landlord’s Game, devised in 1906 by Elizabeth Magie Phillips as an entertaining way to explain the single-tax theories of economist Henry George. Parker Brothers began selling Monopoly sets in the 1930s, using street names from Atlantic City, N.J.

2 Scholars Say President Is Misreading His Power To Wage War

WASHINGTON, (UPI) — Two law scholars said Thursday the White House is incorrectly interpreting “war” to justify military operations reserved only for congressional approval.

Saikrishna Prakash, University of Virginia law professor, noted in a teleconference Thursday military action against Libya in 2011 was justified under the War Powers Resolution because it did not constitute a war, which the U.S. Constitution says can only be declared by the U.S. Congress.

His view is consistent with that of several dozen members of Congress, who signed a letter to President Barack Obama arguing the Office of Legal counsel reduced the definition of military action in Libya to claim the president did not need congressional approval.

That same letter said the president will need congressional approval before any military undertaking in Syria, the Washington newspaper The Hill reported Thursday.

John Yoo, University of California law professor, agreed with Prakash during the teleconference, agreeing that Obama cannot legally use the War Powers Resolution to justify an attack on Syria due to national emergency.

California Bill Would Allow Legal Non-Citizen Immigrants On Juries

SACRAMENTO, (UPI) — A bill California lawmakers passed and sent to Gov. Jerry Brown for consideration would allow non-citizen legal immigrants to sit on juries, a review indicated.

The bill was discussed on the Assembly floor for 7 minutes before being approved last week on a 48-to-28 vote, the Los Angeles Times reported Wednesday.

Democrat Assemblyman Bob Wieckowski, chairman of the Judiciary Committee that sponsored the bill, said the measure’s goal was to make jury pools more inclusive.

“Immigrants are our friends, immigrants are our neighbors, immigrants are our co-workers, immigrants are our family members,” Wieckowski said.

He said there were 3.4 million permanent, non-citizen immigrants in California who aren’t included in jury pools, the Times said.

“We lose their perspectives,” the lawmaker said.

But Rocky Chavez, a Republican, said some people migrated from countries where suspects are presumed to be guilty until proven innocent.

“We actually are taught to question authority,” Chavez said. “Some cultures are taught to obey authority.”

Jury peers, he said, “are people who understand the nuances of America,” he said during floor debate.

The Times said there was no indication on what action Brown would take on the bill.

Zimmerman’s Wife Says She’s Not Sure If They Will Stay Married

SANFORD, Fla., (UPI) — Shellie Zimmerman, the wife of the Florida man who was acquitted in the death of Trayvon Martin, told ABC News she is not sure if she will stay married to him.

In an exclusive interview with ABC News, Shellie Zimmerman said she was staying elsewhere the night Trayvon died, because the couple had gotten into an argument the night before.

She said the last year’s struggles, including a year in hiding before the trial, have strained her relationship with George Zimmerman further.

“I think we have been pretty much like gypsies. … We’ve lived in a 20-foot trailer in the woods, scared every night that someone was going to find us and that we’d be out in the woods alone and that it would be horrific,” she said.

Shellie Zimmerman would not comment on whether her husband had a temper, and said she believes his self-defense stance.

Shellie Zimmerman pleaded guilty to perjury Wednesday for lying about the couple’s finances during her husband’s bond hearing.

She would not say whether she was pressured to lie, ABC News said, but said she felt alone in the courtroom without him.

Shellie Zimmerman faces 100 hours of community service and one year probation for perjury, ABC News reported.

EFF Explains Perfect Forward Secrecy, an Important Web Privacy Protection

This article, written by activist Peter Higgins, originally appeared on the Electronic Frontier Foundation website on August 28.

When you access a Web site over an encrypted connection, you’re using a protocol called HTTPS. But not all HTTPS connections are created equal. In the first few milliseconds after a browser connects securely to a server, an important choice is made: the browser sends a list of preferences for what kind of encryption it’s willing to support, and the server replies with a verification certificate and picks a choice for encryption from the browser’s list. These different encryption choices are called “cipher suites.” Most of the time, users don’t have to worry about which suite the browsers and servers are using, but in some cases it can make a big difference.

One important property is called “perfect forward secrecy,” but only some servers and only some browsers are configured to support it. Sites that use perfect forward secrecy can provide better security to users in cases where the encrypted data is being monitored and recorded by a third party. That particular threat may have once seemed unlikely, but we now know that the NSA does exactly this kind of long-term storage of at least some encrypted communications as they flow through telecommunications hubs, in a collection effort it calls “upstream.”

How can perfect forward secrecy help protect user privacy against that kind of threat? In order to understand that, it’s helpful to have a basic idea of how HTTPS works in general. Every Web server that uses HTTPS has its own secret key that it uses to encrypt data that it sends to users. Specifically, it uses that secret key to generate a new “session key” that only the server and the browser know. Without that secret key, the traffic traveling back and forth between the user and the server is incomprehensible, to the NSA and to any other eavesdroppers.

But imagine that some of that incomprehensible data is being recorded anyway—as leaked NSA documents confirm the agency is doing. An eavesdropper who gets the secret key at any time in the future—even years later—can use it to decrypt all of the stored data! That means that the encrypted data, once stored, is only as secure as the secret key, which may be vulnerable to compromised server security or disclosure by the service provider.

That’s where perfect forward secrecy comes in. When an encrypted connection uses perfect forward secrecy, that means that the session keys the server generates are truly ephemeral, and even somebody with access to the secret key can’t later derive the relevant session key that would allow her to decrypt any particular HTTPS session. So intercepted encrypted data is protected from prying eyes long into the future, even if the website’s secret key is later compromised.

It’s important to note that no flavor of HTTPS, on its own, will protect the data once it’s on the server. Web services should definitely take precautions to protect that data, too. Services should give user data the strongest legal protection possible, and minimize what they collect and store in the first place. But against the known threat of “upstream” data collection, supporting perfect forward secrecy is an essential step.

So who protects long-term privacy by supporting perfect forward secrecy? Unfortunately, it’s not a very long list—but it’s growing. Google made headlines when it became the first major web player to enable the feature in November of 2011. Facebook announced last month that, as part of security efforts that included turning on HTTPS by default for all users, it would enable perfect forward secrecy soon. And while it doesn’t serve the same volume as those other sites, www.eff.org is also configured to use perfect forward secrecy. Outside of the web, emails encrypted using the OpenPGP standard do not have forward secrecy, but instant messages (or text messages) encrypted using the OTR protocol do.

Supporting the right cipher suites—and today, for the Web, that means ones that support perfect forward secrecy—is an important component of doing security correctly. But sites may need encouragement from users because, like HTTPS generally, supporting perfect forward secrecy doesn’t come completely without a cost. In particular, it requires more computational resources to calculate the truly ephemeral session keys required.

It may not be as obvious a step as simply enabling HTTPS, but turning on perfect forward secrecy is an important improvement that protects users. More sites should enable it, and more users should demand it of the sites they trust with their private data.

Russia Flexes; Obamacare Helps The Really, Really Poor; Fed Ignores Global Growth; The Cash-Only Housing Recovery; North Korea’s Take On Free Speech – Thursday Morning News Roundup 8-29-2013

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

 

  • Russia will “over the next few days” be sending an anti-submarine ship and a missile cruiser to the Mediterranean as the West prepares for possible strikes against Syria, the Interfax news agency said on Thursday. Source: Agence France-Presse…

 

  • Republicans have long blamed President Obama’s signature health care initiative for increasing insurance costs, dubbing it the “Unaffordable Care Act.” Turns out, they might be right. A single wage earner must make less than $20,000 to see his or her current premiums drop or stay the same under Obamacare, an independent review by National Journal found. That’s equivalent to approximately 34 percent of all single workers in the U.S. seeing any benefit in the new system. Source: National Journal…

 

  • The U.S. Federal Reserve has told Asia, Latin America, Africa and Eastern Europe to drop dead, a crucial error that has high-stakes implications for the economy of the U.S. and elsewhere. Emerging markets are half the world economy, according to IMF data. The “power ratio” is no longer 1:2, it is 1:1. Yet U.S. policymakers continue to dismissively comment that the emerging market rout is not the Fed’s problem. “Other countries simply have to take that as a reality and adjust to us,” said Dennis Lockhart, the Atlanta Fed chief. Source: The Telegraph…

 

  • More Americans are buying homes in all-cash deals, according to several recent studies. But real- estate experts say this increase may not be a good sign for the health of the housing market. A report by Goldman Sachs last week estimated that cash sales now accounted for 57% of all residential home sales versus 19% in 2005. Source: MarketWatch…

 

  • Hyon Song-wol, a singer, rumoured to be a former lover of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, is said to have been arrested on Aug 17 with 11 others for violating laws against pornography. All 12 were machine-gunned three days later, with other members of North Korea’s most famous pop groups and their immediate families forced to watch. The onlookers were then sent to prison camps, victims of the regime’s assumption of guilt by association, the reports stated. Source: The Telegraph…

 

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

The President And The Power To Declare War

“The Founding Fathers were, as in most things, profoundly right. That’s why I want to be very clear: If the President takes us to [war] without Congressional approval, I will call for his impeachment… The Constitution is clear. And so am I.” — Joe Biden, 2007

“The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the Nation.” — Senator Barack Obama, 2007

It’s pretty rare, but I find myself agreeing with not one, but two modern politicians on war powers. While Obama and Biden have quickly flip-flopped now that violating these principles has become their own strategy, they were correct when expressing them in response to President George W. Bush’s unConstitutional foreign policy.

Indeed, the Constitution is quite clear on war power. Congress has the power to determine if the country will wage offensive war and against whom. Once that decision is made by Congress, the President is in charge of waging that war.

The power in question is delegated in Article I, Section 8, Clause 11 of the Constitution:

[Congress shall have Power…] To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water;

The Founders

As I wrote in an early-2007 article, Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution, on the other hand, refers to the President as the “commander-in-chief of the army and navy of the United States.” What the Founders meant by this clause was that once war was declared, it would then be the responsibility of the President, as the commander in chief, to direct the war.

Alexander Hamilton supported this when he said that the President, while lacking the power to declare war, would have “the direction of war when authorized.” Thus, under the Constitution, the President, acting without a Congressional declaration of war, is authorized only to repel invasion and sudden attacks.

Pre-emptive strikes and undeclared offensive military expeditions are not powers delegated to the executive branch in the Constitution, and are, therefore, unlawful. Thomas Jefferson stated this quite eloquently when, in 1801, he said that, as President, he was “unauthorized by the Constitution, without the sanction of Congress, to go beyond the line of defense.”

As an aside, it’s also important to note that no Federal branch has the Constitutional authority to transfer powers to another branch that were delegated to it. There’s nothing in the text of the Constitution or the views of the Founders that would support this absurd notion. The Founders created a system of government where certain levels of government were responsible for certain powers, and not the others. A primary reason for this was a distrust of executive power.

War was something that was a big part of the Founders’ distrust of power. James Madison warned us that the power of declaring war must be kept away from the executive branch when he wrote to  Jefferson:

The constitution supposes, what the history of all governments demonstrates, that the executive is the branch of power most interested in war, and most prone to it. It has accordingly with studied care vested the question of war in the legislature.

There simply is no debate. Congress, not the President, decides if the country will go to war.

Twisted Definitions

As they did with the U.S. war against Libya, those violating these strict Constitutional limitations will likely refer to an attack on Syria as something other than “war.” But changing the words they use to describe their actions doesn’t change the Constitutional ramifications.

Under the Constitution, a war is a war whether you call it a war or something else.

Constitutional scholar Rob Natelson wrote about the legal meaning of the word “war” in March 2011:

Founding-Era dictionaries and other sources, both legal and lay, tell us that when the Constitution was approved, “war” consisted of any hostilities initiated by a sovereign over opposition. A very typical dictionary definition was, “the exercise of violence under sovereign command against such as oppose.” (Barlow, 1772-73). I have found no suggestion in any contemporaneous source that operations of the kind the U.S. is conducting were anything but “war.”

The Founders’ favorite authority on international law, Vattel, divided wars into three principal categories: defensive wars, offensive just wars, and offensive unjust wars. A nation fought a defensive war when it responded to an invasion. It fought a just offensive war when it responded to an infringement of its rights short of invasion. It fought an unjust offensive war if it attacked another country even though that other country had not infringed its rights. Examples of unjust offensive wars were those fought for conquest or to limit an innocent neighbor’s power.

A defensive war did not require a declaration.  A just offensive war did require one, although it might be called something other than “declaration of war.”  The declaration triggered certain consequences under international law, but Vattel says its principal purpose was to give the other country a last chance to correct the injury it was inflicting.  Because unjust wars were those launched by a country that had not suffered legal injury, it follows that “declarations of war” issued by an aggressor were at least partially defective.

Natelson also suggested that, even if declared, the government has “no constitutional power to wage an unjust war.”

The last time Congress Constitutionally declared war was on Dec. 11, 1941 — against Germany in response to its formal declaration of war against the United States. This resolution was quickly accomplished with a statement that was less than one page in length, yet it still clearly delineated who the enemy was and what was to be done. Three days earlier, and one day after being attacked at Pearl Harbor, Congress declared war on Japan with a similar clarity. Both actions resulted in a clear-cut military victory.

The short version? Unless fending off a physical invasion or attack, the President is required to get a Congressional declaration of war before engaging in military hostilities in another country.

Since it’s unlikely that the executive branch will limit its own power and there’s very little evidence that Congress will use the power of the purse to do so either, it’s going to be up to the people of the States to make that happen — whether the Feds want us to or not.

Big Sis’ Long Goodbye Ends With Speech Urging ‘Common-Sense’ Immigration Reform

Outgoing Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano’s long goodbye ended Tuesday with a farewell speech in which she urged Congress to pass some form of amnesty for the 11 million or so illegal aliens now living in the United States.

Napolitano said unilateral grants of amnesty, either through her own self-willed enforcement oversights or through President Barack Obama’s threat to bypass Congress, are no substitutes for legislation that would structure a systematic plan whereby illegal aliens could know what to expect as they walk a path toward U.S. citizenship.

In particular, Napolitano called on Congress to devise legislation that accommodates “dreamers” — the youngest generation of illegal aliens who, as children, entered the country with their parents. Dreamers know no life outside of the one they’ve lived inside the United States, despite remaining undocumented throughout their young lives and their ongoing status as illegal aliens.

Napolitano criticized Congress for failing to tackle what she called “common-sense immigration enforcement priorities,” which, she said, would devote enforcement resources to “criminals, national security and public safety threats” instead of the deportation of workaday illegal aliens.

“Congress had a chance to give these so-called dreamers a way to stay in our country through the Dream Act, but unfortunately, that legislation failed to garner the 60 votes needed for cloture, falling just five votes short, despite strong bipartisan support,” Napolitano said.

The Dream (Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors) Act was proposed in a very different political climate, coming early in George W. Bush’s first term and only a month before the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center. Napolitano’s remarks referred to a 2007 Senate iteration of the bill, which fell short of defeating a filibuster by a 52-44 cloture vote.

Napolitano defended DHS’ handling of illegal immigration during her tenure, saying Congressional gridlock on immigration reform had justified her liberal interpretation of her own powers as DHS Secretary and had freed her to exercise “prosecutorial discretion” under the Obama Administration to stop the ticking clock counting down the length of time “dreamers” can remain in the United States.

Napolitano, a former Arizona Governor, will take up her new position as the president of the University of California system next week. To her yet-unnamed DHS successor, she advised “a large bottle of Advil.”

The Dream Deferred

Fifty years ago, Martin Luther King Jr. stood at the Lincoln Memorial and delivered one of the greatest oratorical performances in modern history. Despite venal and often violent attempts by Democrats across the Nation to halt King’s charge to throw open the doors of freedom to those who had suffered under the racist hegemony created and maintained by people like Senators Robert Byrd (D-W.V.) and Albert Gore Sr. (D-Tenn.), King’s march attracted hundreds of thousands of Americans. But King didn’t stoop to anger and recrimination; although, I could hardly have blamed him for doing so. He spoke of the eternal American promise of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” Five years after King’s legendary cry of freedom, an assassin’s bullet ended his life.

Imagine what King might have thought if he were still around to watch the spectacle that unfolded last weekend — a spectacle that disingenuously billed itself as a National celebration of the 50th anniversary of that famous march on Washington. Instead of a clarion call for “the solid rock of brotherhood,” King would have witnessed the repulsive Al Sharpton, publicly disgraced Attorney General Eric Holder and a host of other examples of the very racist divisiveness King had fought. All these self-styled heirs of King’s legacy have wilfully perverted his message from one of peace into one of discord, manipulating King’s unassailable public image like a marionette. At one point, King’s own son, Martin Luther King III, exclaimed: “[T]he tears of Trayvon Martin’s mother and father remind us that, far too frequently, the color of one’s skin remains a license to… murder with no regard for the content of one’s character.” Far be it for me to point out that according to the courts, Martin wasn’t murdered — although the man who killed him in self-defense, the Hispanic George Zimmerman, was threatened with the same by people like Sharpton.

Head teachers’ union thug Randi Weingarten did some shrieking of her own before yanking the microphone out of the hand of one of the people she claims to be fighting for: 9-year-old Asean Johnson, who was not only the youngest speaker at the event, but easily the most impressive. I never did catch on to why one of the speakers was a shrill, possibly unbalanced white woman from an organization that has essentially served as guards at the prison in which liberalism has interred the black population. Nonetheless, Weingarten had a starring role. The lily-white, multimillionaire harridan of the House, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, didn’t even blink under the weight of irony as she asked: “Are you ready to beat the drum for that beautiful symphony of brotherhood? Are you ready to realize the dream?” The same woman has called the Tea Party’s goals “hostage-taking” and claimed its members are “acting like terrorists.” A few more whining liberals complained about conservative white people being racist, and one of two lower-echelon race pimps auditioned for a spot as one of Sharpton’s backup dancers. I missed Jesse Jackson’s performance, but I did catch a picture of him flashing enough jewelry to pay for his illegitimate daughter’s tuition to the school of her choice.

Fifty years ago, an inspirational young minister from the Deep South went to Washington, D.C., to deliver a sermon of peace, love, tolerance and freedom. Last week, those who would claim to be his successors came back to Washington, D.C., and gunned it down in broad daylight. I like to think that King made it to the Promised Land. But Saturday’s carnival of anger makes me think that his dream died here.

–Ben Crystal

Is Obama Trying To Purposely Start World War III?

Hello, I’m Wayne Allyn Root for Personal Liberty. Two things are happening right now under President Barack Obama that are unprecedented.

First, Obama is about to go to war in Syria and risk your sons’ and daughters’ lives on behalf of our enemy, al-Qaida. Second, he is about to risk starting World War III.

Are you on board?

And then there’s Obama’s “red line.” Obama’s defenders say, “Syria passed the red line. We have no choice.” Really? So we now call extremist Muslims killing other extremist Muslims a “red line” that demands U.S. intervention. But extremist Muslims in Egypt burning more than 70 churches to the ground and killing Christians is not a “red line?” In one place (Syria), we want to go to war. In the other (Egypt), we continue to send billions of dollars in foreign aid as a reward for killing Christians.

Do you support Obama’s definition of a “red line?” I know I don’t.

So why the rush to war? Could it be because America’s unemployment problem under Obama is unfixable? Ninety million working-age Americans are not working. The labor force participation rate is the lowest for men since 1947 (since measurement began). Obama has no way out.

The same holds true for our partners in the European Union like the United Kingdom and France. Unemployment for the EU region is 12.1 percent, the worst in history. Almost 20 million Europeans are unemployed. Youth unemployment in the EU is just below 25 percent.

How do you solve such a human psychological disaster? You go to war.

Voilà. Suddenly, young people with no job prospects have a job — in the military. They have a check, a place to live, something to do. They no longer have time to commit crimes or riot in the streets.

America got out of the last Great Depression with the help of World War II. How convenient that Obama lit the fuse for the Arab Spring, helped to topple dictators friendly to U.S. interests and took the side of the Muslim Brotherhood. Now, it’s all coming home to roost.

We fomented instability, supported the radicals who hate America and Israel, and now we’re feigning shock that the Mideast is in flames? Remember that line from the police captain in the movie “Casablanca”: “I’m shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!”

What a funny coincidence that a war would solve Obama’s worst problems all at once:

A) War would stir patriotism and force Americans to rally around the President.

B) Obamacare is a nightmare for Obama and his party. It’s so unpopular even Democrats and unions are running away from it. Congress has passed a law to exempt themselves. Obama himself is postponing major aspects of Obamacare for fear it will lead to a GOP landslide in 2014. Going to war is the perfect distraction, at the perfect time.

C) Obama couldn’t create a job if it hit him in the face. He can’t spell J-O-B. War will create instant jobs. And, hey, if thousands of young men die, that, too, will reduce the ranks of the unemployed for years to come.

“Nonsense,” Obama’s supporters will protest. You know, those same people that marched in the streets protesting our involvement in Iraq, those same people who questioned CIA intelligence about “weapons of mass distraction” yet who now readily accept the CIA’s claims about Syria’s using chemical weapons, those same people who called Bush a murderer yet now accept Obama’s bombing and killing citizens in Syria. Syria is the new Iraq.

The key to life (and politics) is to choose your friends carefully. In Egypt Obama supports the Muslim Brotherhood. This is the same group that supported the Nazis during World War II. Their leader, Muhammed Morsi, said in speech last year: “The Koran is our constitution, the Prophet is our leader, jihad is our path and death in the name of Allah is our goal.”

In Syria our new friends are worse than the Muslim Brotherhood (if that’s possible). The rebels fighting the Syrian government are al-Qaida. These are the murderous terrorists who are the sworn enemies of America and Israel. This is who Obama is asking our sons and daughters to die for? Not my sons, not my daughters. How about yours?

Have we learned nothing from Iraq? I was gung ho about Iraq. I thought it was a noble cause to set the Iraqi people free from a tyrant. You know what I found out? We meant well, but it was a disaster. It was none of our business. It was not worth the cost — in dollars or human life. The Iraqi people we heroically risked and sacrificed for don’t thank us; they hate us. Why would we want to do it again? Our Mideast interventions cause more hatred, more terrorism, more death.

Let’s not forget that our intervention in Libya put weapons in the hands of radical Muslims who, it now appears, used those weapons to attack our own Libyan Embassy and murder our U.S. Ambassador and three brave Navy SEALs. You know, that’s the tragedy that was covered up by Obama and Hillary Clinton by blaming it on a movie. Who killed our brave men in that Libyan embassy? Al-Qaida, the people Obama now wants to partner with.

Have we not learned that our Mideast interventions always work out badly? Now, we are going to do it again. Except this time, it’s far worse. This time, Russia and China and Iran are on Syria’s side. This time, it could lead to World War III. Have we lost our minds?

I have obvious questions.

First, was this Obama’s plan from the start? Foment anger and instability in the Mideast, topple the friends of America and wait for war? Is this his only way out to save the U.S. economy from collapse? Is war the perfect distraction from the economic carnage caused by his policies?

Second, would you send your son or daughter to die to support al-Qaida? I know I wouldn’t.

This is a new level of insanity — even for Obama. I’m Wayne Allyn Root for Personal Liberty. See you next week. Same time, same place. God bless America.

‘Black Kids In Hoodies’ Attack Bicyclist On Martin Luther King Boulevard; Media Refuses To Identify Race

Maybe it is a near-perfect illustration of how political correctness has made mainstream reporters pusillanimous keyboard strokers when they are forced to mention that a person, who happens to be black, commits a crime. Or perhaps leaving out a suspect’s race is just an oversight in many cases — but probably not.

Either way, it’s pretty obvious that the overbearing importance of race in reporting doesn’t always exist in less Zimmermanesque circumstances.

To present a case in point: Local media in Portland, Ore., took notice of a Reddit poster’s chronicle of being attacked during an unfortunate bike trip down a Northeast Portland street. But they had a little trouble providing a description of the attackers.

reddit_eddit

HpOuiPZ

Via report from Oregon Live:

Andy Sweeney posted the selfie on Reddit, hoping to find the positive side to the violence that left him with a broken smile on a Northeast Portland street last weekend.

In the photo, the 20-year-old bicycle commuter and recent transplant from the Midwest flashed two shattered front teeth.

… Portland police … are taking Saturday night’s unprovoked attack of Sweeney near Northeast Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Fargo Street more seriously.

Shortly before midnight, Sweeney was on his way home from the grocery store, riding south on MLK. He also didn’t see the violence coming.

“I was coming up on these three kids,” he said, “and they just threw a traffic cone at me. It hit me square in the teeth.”

Sweeney described the encounter as “a blur” that prevented him from getting a good look at his attackers. The boys laughed and ran off, leaving him with a bloody mouth. “The pieces of my teeth were gone immediately,” Sweeney said.

A police officer told Sweeney that it looked like he had a concussion. The bespectacled bike deliveryman for Jimmy John’s sandwich shop said he didn’t have the money to go to the hospital.

And Portland’s KGW reported that this isn’t the first time this has happened:

… Last week, a 64-year-old man reported that he was also attacked by teens while riding his bike on Northeast Going Street near Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard, according to Sgt. Pete Simpson of the Portland Police Bureau.

“One of [the teens] punched him in the shoulder, which knocked him off his bike and he hit the ground,” Simpson said.

Simpson said he didn’t know if the attacks were connected.

“It may just be a group of teens who are acting like punks,” Simpson said.

… On the last Thursday of July, Amy Wilson walked out of her home near Going Street and King Boulevard after hearing a car prowl. She was attacked by a group of teens, the newspaper reported. Neighbors told her the same teens were menacing cyclists nearby.

Chris Freeman wrote to the Oregonian’s website that he was attacked by about five teens near 7th and Stanton about 11 p.m. on Aug. 17.

Both reports failed to make any mention of race in the initial articles beyond The Oregonian’s assertion that “Sweeney described the encounter as ‘a blur’ that prevented him from getting a good look at his attackers.”

Oddly enough, in the Reddit post mentioned by The Oregonian, Sweeney (screenname SpanishMoles) clearly identifies the suspects as three black kids in hoodies.

Hilarity ensued, though it must’ve been missed by the intrepid reporters at the aforementioned news outlets:

red_ed

45 Bing Cherries A Day May Keep The Doctor Away

DAVIS, Calif. (UPI) — U.S. researchers say cherry consumption — 45 Bing cherries a day — selectively improved circulating blood levels for nine biomarkers of inflammatory disease.

Researchers at the University of California, Davis, in collaboration with the Western Human Nutrition Research Center’s Agriculture Research Service, a division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, measured changes in 89 known markers for inflammation, immune status, cardiovascular disease, blood clotting, and liver and kidney function in those eating cherries.

The researchers asked 18 men and women ages 41 to 61 to supplement their diets with 45 Bing cherries, about 280 grams or nearly 10 ounces, each day for 28 days.

All of the study participants were healthy but had modestly elevated levels of C-reactive protein, a biomarker for inflammation associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular and other diseases. The normal range for C-reactive protein is less than 1 mg per liter, while study participants’ ranged from 1 to 14 mg per liter of C-reactive protein.

The researchers evaluated protein levels in fasting blood samples before, during and after cherry supplementation at days seven, 21, 35 and 63 to obtain baseline, intervention and post-intervention data.

The study, published in the Journal of Nutrition, found that consuming 45 sweet Bing cherries each day resulted in lower levels of a variety of indicators for chronic inflammatory diseases such as arthritis, high blood pressure, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Homeless? No Food For You!

In Raleigh, N.C., a nonprofit group was threatened with arrest last week if it went forward with its weekly plan to feed about 70 homeless people sausage biscuits and coffee at a downtown park.

The Rev. Hugh Hollowell of Love Wins Ministries wrote on his organization’s website that the ministry showed up at Moore Square to pass out food at 9 a.m., as it had done almost every Saturday and Sunday for the past six years. This time, officers from the Raleigh Police Department prevented it from handing out the food.

“An officer said, quite bluntly, that if we attempted to distribute food, we would be arrested, Hollowell wrote. “We asked the officers for permission to disperse the biscuits to the over 70 people who had lined up, waiting to eat. They said no. I had to face those who were waiting and tell them that I could not feed them, or I would be arrested.”

According to news reports, a city ordinance passed in 1998 “prohibits the distribution of food without a permit” in city parks. The ordinance states: “No individuals or group shall serve or distribute meals or food of any kind in or on any City park or greenway unless such distribution is pursuant to a permit issued by the Parks, Recreation and Greenway Director.”

Love Wins is one of several nonprofits that distribute food to homeless in Raleigh, which has no government-sponsored food distribution system. Another nonprofit, Human Beans Together (HBT), was also instructed that it could not distribute food on public property. So HBT moved across the road to private property with the owner’s permission, but police made HBT leave that location as well, according to HBT volunteer Todd Pratt.

More than 50 cities, including Philadelphia, Atlanta, Phoenix, San Diego, Los Angeles, Miami and Oklahoma City, have adopted laws that prohibit organizations from feeding homeless people. This is further evidence statist politicians and authoritarian government functionaries, motivated by a misguided altruism and collectivist mentality, really care little for those suffering under policies implemented by other statist politicians authoritarian functionaries. What they really care about is control.

Does Biden Want To Impeach Obama?; Ron Paul Explains Healthcare Road To Socialism; Only Black Senator Left Out Of Civil Rights Bash; Study Shows Crime Up When Gun Ownership Down; First Lady Lunches Get Sacked— Personal Liberty Digest™ P.M. Edition 8-28-2013

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

Biden Said He Will Impeach The President For War Not Approved By Congress… In 2007

In 2007, Senator Biden said that he would absolutely do everything possible to impeach President George W. Bush if he attacked Iran without first gaining Congressional approval. Read More… 

Ron Paul: Middle Of The Road In Healthcare Leads To Socialism

The ever-expanding role of government in healthcare provides an excellent example of Ludwig Von Mises’ warning that “The Middle of the Road Leads to Socialism.” Beginning in the 1940s, government policies distorted the health care market, causing prices to rise and denying many Americans access to quality care. Read More… 

Only Black Senator, A Republican, Left Out Of 50th Anniversary Of Civil Rights March

There was a noticeable absence Wednesday from the speaker line-up at the Let Freedom Ring event commemorating the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington: Tim Scott, the Nation’s only black Senator. Read More… 

Harvard Study Finds Violent Crime Rises As Gun Ownership Falls

Harvard University has released a study on whether it’s possible to discern patterns of cause and effect between gun ownership and the incidence of violent crime. Read More… 

Schools Pulling Healthy Lunches Because Students Won’t Eat Them

School systems across the United States say students aren’t eating the federally funded lunches served under a program touted by first lady Michelle Obama. Read More… 

Harvard Study Finds Violent Crime Rises As Gun Ownership Falls

Harvard University has released a study on whether it’s possible to discern patterns of cause and effect between gun ownership and the incidence of violent crime.

Study authors Don B. Kates and Gary Mauser did find such a relationship: an inverse one.

The study, called “Would Banning Firearms Reduce Murder and Suicide?” compares data on “intentional” deaths in European countries with American data, and finds that in locations where gun control proliferates, the murder rate goes up.

The murder rate in Russia, where handguns are banned, was 20.52 per 100,000 people in 2002. But in Finland, where gun ownership stands near 40 percent of the population, there were only 1.98 murders per 100,000 residents during the same period.

Russia’s present murder rate of 30.6 deaths per 100,000 also dwarfs the 7.8 per 100,000 murder rate in the U.S.

From the study:

[T]he burden of proof rests on the proponents of the more guns equal more death and fewer guns equal less death mantra, especially since they argue public policy ought to be based on that mantra. To bear that burden would at the very least require showing that a large number of nations with more guns have more death and that nations that have imposed stringent gun controls have achieved substantial reductions in criminal violence (or suicide). But those correlations are not observed when a large number of nations are compared across the world.

Biden Said He Will Impeach The President For War Not Approved By Congress… In 2007

If President Barack Obama launches an attack on Syria without full Congressional approval, do you think Vice President Joe Biden will attempt to have him impeached?

On Tuesday, we brought you Constitution-friendly Obama, circa 2007; today, we will revisit a Biden of the same vintage.

In 2007, Senator Biden said that he would absolutely do everything possible to impeach President George W. Bush if he attacked Iran without first gaining Congressional approval.

Via Seacoast Online, November 29, 2007:

Presidential hopeful Delaware Sen. Joe Biden stated unequivocally that he will move to impeach President Bush if he bombs Iran without first gaining congressional approval.

Biden spoke in front of a crowd of approximately 100 at a candidate forum held Thursday at Seacoast Media Group. The forum focused on the Iraq war and foreign policy. When an audience member expressed fear of a war with Iran, Biden said he does not typically engage in threats, but had no qualms about issuing a direct warning to the Oval Office.

“The president has no authority to unilaterally attack Iran, and if he does, as Foreign Relations Committee chairman, I will move to impeach,” said Biden, whose words were followed by a raucous applause from the local audience.

Biden said he is in the process of meeting with constitutional law experts to prepare a legal memorandum saying as much and intends to send it to the president.

Biden spent a great deal of time talking about illegal wars and impeaching President Bush around that time.

Here he is appearing on MSNBC in 2007:

Chris Matthews: “You said that if the President of the United States had launched an attack on Iran without congressional approval that would have been an impeachable offense. Do you want to review that comment you made? Well how do you stand on that now?”

Biden: “Yes I do. I want to stand by the comment I made. The reason I made the comment was as a warning. I don’t say those things lightly, Chris, you’ve known me for a long time. I was chairman of the judiciary committee for 17 years or its ranking member. I teach separation of powers and constitutional law. This is something I know. So I got together and brought a group of constitutional scholars together to write a piece that I’m going to deliver to the whole United State Senate pointing out the President has no constitutional authority…to take this nation to war against a country of 70 million people unless we’re attacked or unless there is proof we are about to be attacked. And if he does, if he does, I would move to impeach him. The House obviously has to do that but I would lead an effort to impeach him. The reason for my doing that, I don’t say it lightly, I don’t say it lightly. I say it because they should understand that what they were threatening, what they were saying, what it was adding up to be, what it looked like to the rest of the world we were about to do would be the most disastrous thing that could be done in this moment in our history that I could think of.”

H/T: Breitbart