Missouri Legislature Set To Nullify Federal Gun Laws

In what would be one of the most far-reaching peacetime attempts by a U.S. State to negate a Federal law that imposes restrictions exceeding those found in the Constitution, the Missouri State Legislature is expected to override a Governor’s veto and criminalize the enforcement of Federal gun laws throughout the State.

The Republican majority in the Legislature is being joined by a handful of Democrats in overriding Democratic Governor Jay Nixon’s veto of HB 436 — also known as the “Second Amendment Preservation Act” — last month. Nixon had rejected the bill on the grounds that, predictably, it violates the Supremacy doctrine and also includes punitive provisions — such as allowing for citizens to sue reporters who connect them with gun ownership or to sue officers who attempt a Federal gun arrest — that violate the 1st Amendment.

Observers believe, though, that when the Legislature convenes on Sept. 11, both chambers will have the numbers necessary to override Nixon’s veto. In the original vote, the measure passed the House 116-38 and the Senate 26-6.

Legislative Democrats seem to favor the bill because it’s politically expedient to satisfy the will of people.

“Being a rural-area Democrat, if you don’t vote for any gun bill, it will kill you,” House Democrat Ben Harris told FOX News. “That’s what the Republicans want you to do is vote against it, because if you vote against it, they’ll send one mailer every week just blasting you about guns, and you’ll lose.”

In addition, some Democrats see a vote in favor of overriding the veto as a no-harm, no-foul proposition, since many feel that a subsequent court challenge would succeed in striking down the nullification law.

Part of the Federal-State battle is a principled conflict over government infringement on the 2nd Amendment right to bear arms. But for many Republicans both in Missouri and nationwide, it’s about Federal encroachment on State powers generally, whether over gun rights, State voter-approved medical marijuana use or the nullification of Obamacare in some States.

A Montana law that sought a lesser measure of State control over unConstitutional Federal gun laws had been in effect since 2009. That law, the Montana Firearms Freedom Act, exempts from Federal regulation any gun (with exceptions for fully automatic guns and large-bore military firearms) that has remained in the State since the time of its in-State manufacture, dating back to October of 2009. But even though that law was worded specifically to comply with the Constitution’s interstate commerce provisions, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals struck it down just last week.

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.