Wife Of George Zimmerman Gets Probation In Perjury Plea Deal

SANFORD, Fla., (UPI) —  Shelley Zimmerman, the wife of the man acquitted of killing Florida teen Trayvon Martin, was put on probation after pleading guilty to perjury Wednesday.

The plea deal allowed her to admit to a lesser form of perjury and avoid a felony conviction, the Orlando Sentinel reported.

Zimmerman had been accused of lying in court during a bond hearing for her husband, George Zimmerman, after he had been charged in the 2012 shooting death of Martin in a gated community in Sanford.

The original charge, perjury during an official proceeding, was a first-degree felony that carried a possible five-year prison term and a $5,000 fine.

Shelley Zimmerman, a nursing student, would have been banned from applying for a nursing license for three years as a convicted felon.

The charge she pleaded to, perjury but not an official proceeding, is a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine.

She also will have to perform 100 hours of community service.

Her husband, who maintained he shot the unarmed 17-year-old Martin in self-defense, was not present in court.

Schools Pulling Healthy Lunches Because Students Won’t Eat Them

WASHINGTON, (UPI) —  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.

Saying they are losing money throwing out uneaten food, a number of school districts are revising the menus designed to fight childhood obesity, CBS News reported Wednesday.

The program requires that lunches include fresh fruit, vegetable and whole grains. Calories must be limited to 850 for high school students, 700 for middle school and 650 for elementary.

The healthy food choices have drawn complaints by school districts from California to New York. One official in Kentucky said students told him the food tasted like “vomit.”

About 100,000 school districts signed up for the program, fewer than expected.

The Laguna Beach, Calif., school district says it’s not dropping out of the program, as others have done. Instead, it has instituted monthly taste tests and will sell sandwiches.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture, which administers the program, said it didn’t expect a widespread defection from the lunch plan because most school districts already met the program’s guidelines.

Gallup: Blacks Feel Whites Have Advantage In Getting Jobs

PRINCETON, N.J.,  (UPI) —  As in 1963, a majority U.S. blacks now say they believe whites have the advantage in the job market, a Gallup poll released Wednesday indicated.

The results, released on the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, indicated 60 percent of blacks said they thought whites have better chances than blacks to get jobs while 39 percent said they thought blacks and whites have equal opportunities.

Blacks’ views in the latest survey are more positive now than they were in 1963, when 74 percent said they thought whites had better chances at jobs, the Princeton, N.J., polling agency said.

Gallup said blacks have felt disadvantaged versus whites in terms of job hiring in all but a few instances over the last 50 years.

Blacks’ perceptions about equality in childhood education are more positive, Gallup said. Fifty-six percent of blacks said they believe black children have the same chance as white children in their community to get a good education. Forty-three percent said they held the opposite view.

A narrow majority of blacks, 51 percent, said they thought blacks have as good a chance as whites to obtain any housing they can afford, while 48 percent said they did not.

Results are based on nationwide telephone interviews conducted Aug. 9-22 with a sample of 1,001 adult blacks. The margin of error is 4 percentage points.

Shooting Victim In Oklahoma Laid To Rest In Home Country Of Australia

DUNCAN, Okla., (UPI) —  The Australian man fatally shot in Oklahoma was buried Wednesday in his home country after an autopsy revealed he died of a single gunshot to the back.

Mourners packed Melbourne’s St Therese’s Church for the funeral of Christopher Lane, who was attending Oklahoma’s East Central University on a baseball scholarship when he was gunned down at random Aug. 16 in what prosecutors have described as a thrill killing, CNN reported.

The autopsy, released Tuesday, indicated the 22-year-old Lane died when a bullet entered his back, breaking a rib then slicing through his left lung, aorta, esophagus, pulmonary artery and his right lung before finally breaking another rib, The (Oklahoma City) Oklahoman reported.

The official cause of death is “penetrating gunshot wound to back” and the official manner of death is homicide.

One of the three teens arrested in Lane’s death allegedly told police in Duncan, Okla., he and his companions decided to kill someone because they were bored, The Oklahoman said.

Two of the teens — James Edwards Jr., 15, and Chancey Luna, 16 — were charged as adults with first-degree murder, while the third, 17-year-old Michael Jones, is accused of being an accessory and driving a vehicle during the discharge of a weapon.

Lane’s American girlfriend, Sarah Harper, was among the mourners in Melbourne, having accompanied the body home to Australia on Saturday. She also attended a tribute game during the weekend with Lane’s family and friends at Melbourne’s Essendon Baseball Club, where Lane had been a member.

Tuesday in Duncan, Stephens County Special Judge Jerry Herberger issued the gag order banning prosecutors, law enforcement officials and defense attorneys from commenting on the case to the media, The Oklahoman said.

Herberger scheduled a preliminary hearing for Oct. 17.

Obamacare and MLK; Soros Sorrows; America’s Open Playbook On Syria; That’s Why You Buy ‘Forever’ Stamps; China To The Moon – Wednesday Morning News Roundup 8-28-2013

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

  • In the latest and most desperate promotion of ObamaCare, the president is invoking Martin Luther King Jr. But the only “fierce urgency of now” is stopping ObamaCare before it can do more damage. Source: Investors Business Daily… 
  • The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is taking Bill Ackman seriously. Days after the hedge-fund mogul wrote the regulator and complained about alleged insider-trading violations by George Soros’ family fund regarding its trading in Herbalife, the SEC took action. Source: New York Post…
  • It’s always possible that all of this leaking about when, how and for how long the U.S. will attack Syria is an elaborate head-fake, like Patton’s ghost army on the eve of D-Day, poised for the assault on Calais. But based on this Administration’s past behavior, such as the leaked bin Laden raid details, chances are most of this really is the war plan. Source: The Wall Street Journal…  
  • Private-sector groups are growing increasingly worried that the Postal Service’s board is going to consider a broad rate increase next month, a move they say would amount to an attack on some of the agency’s best customers. Source: The Hill…
  • China said Wednesday it will launch its first unmanned lunar lander by the end of this year, complete with a radio-controlled rover to transmit images and dig into the moon’s surface to test samples. Source: The Associated Press…

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

Is America Listening To The Wrong Clown?


You’d think that, after all the needless hoopla over his innocent pantomime of President Barack Obama earlier this month at the Missouri Rodeo Cowboy Association finals, entertainer Tuffy Gessling – who’s been barred from ever taking part in the event again – would be a sad clown. But you’d be wrong.

Gessling spoke with CBS affiliate KCTV-5 in Kansas City Monday, offering a dose of rationality in the same mainstream media forum that has spent the past two weeks manipulating emotionally volatile racist detractors into an indignant frenzy. He said he’s received both support and scorn, but just wants everyone to step back and realize we live in a pretty great Nation – one that’s safe and comfortable enough to allow idle citizens the leisure to view trifles like his clown act as a five-alarm cultural fire.



“I actually think that a lot of people have lost their ability to laugh,” said Gessling, who’s been the target of anonymous threats to his life and property. “Look at the country as a whole, there is a lot more to be mad at than a rodeo clown at a rodeo trying to make somebody laugh.”

The intrepid reporters at KCTV asked Gessling which political party he identified with, hoping to reveal a motive for his harmless (and time-honored) politically-flavored stunt.

“I am a rodeo clown,” he responded. “I didn’t do this to do any hating on anyone. I did this to be funny. I did it to be a joke… I didn’t think anything more of it than what we’ve done 15 years ago, 10 years ago, five years ago, when we’ve done it with Bush, Clinton and Ronald Reagan.”

By now you know what Gessling is supposedly guilty of: donning a mask of President Barack Obama’s face and allowing himself to be the slapstick target of a charging bull – complete with fanfare from the public address announcer and a second rodeo clown.

The racist allegations baffle Gessler, who said politicians have always provided a reliable stream of clown fodder. Gessler said he wasn’t seeing the President’s color when he and his clown friends skewered him – he just saw the man who’d been elected to the highest political office in the land.

“I never did anything because of anybody’s race. I don’t care what color somebody is. If they’re blue, white, green, polka dotted, striped … it doesn’t bother me one bit,” he said.

In fact, Gessling said he respects the office of the Presidency and would view any encounter with the real President Obama as an honor.

“If President Obama turns out [at one of my performances], I would be honored to shake his hand,” he said.

Sexual Jihad And Spreading Crabs In The Name Of Muhammad

In Islamic law, fatwa is a legal opinion or decree handed down by an Islamic religious leader known as mufti. While the dictates issued in a particular fatwa are not necessarily binding, extremists have been known to act on the orders, often with devastating results.

One of the most infamous and widely-known fatwas was issued in 1989 when a novel penned by British Indian novelist and essayist Salman Rushdie irritated Iran’s then-supreme leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.  More than two decades later, The Satanic Verses author still lives with the threat that “good Muslims” on a mission to assassinate him could show up at any time.

In the Middle East, fatwas abound, but are often so absurd that they get little attention from Western media. But, with heightened interest in the current struggle between Muslim fundamentalist rebels in the Free Syrian Army and that nation’s lawful government— and the looming prospect of U.S. intervention on the rebels’ behalf— it is worth taking a look at some recent Islamic fatwas.

In June, while the Muslim Brotherhood shill Mohamed Morsi was still in control of Egypt, the country’s fatwa council issued a directive banning Muslims from hunting and killing frogs to sell.

According to Jihad Watch, “the fatwa explains, according to Islam’s prophet Muhammad as recorded in a hadith, a frog’s ‘croaking is praise [to Allah].’ Accordingly, ‘a number of jurists [fuqaha] have relied on this [hadith] to forbid the eating of frogs, under the notion that “that which is banned from being killed, is forbidden from being eaten.”’”

Other animal-related fatwas in the past have ordered radical Muslims to kill Mickey Mouse and to kill all black dogs, among some animal rights decrees.

Later in June, a fatwa was issued in the Syrian city of Aleppo to punish people who dare to eat croissants.

From a previous Personal Liberty post:

According to an interview at China’s English-language Sina news website, one man who’s frustrated with the growing post-revolutionary power of Islamist extremists in Syria explains how fundamentalists are tightening their grip on local rule to an absurd extent.

“Al-Nusra Front fighters come up every day with a new unimaginable fatwa, or religious edict,” such as the fatwa against croissants, said the Syrian, identified only as “Ahmed.” The fundamentalists claim croissants are particularly relished by European infidels as a celebratory food (because of their “symbolic” crescent shape), which they allegedly tear into with gusto to commemorate historic victories over the Muslims.

Syrians originally inspired by a revolution they hoped would ensure stability and expanded freedoms are now taking to the internet to criticize al-Nusra’s growing intolerance of behaviors that fall outside various factions’ interpretations of sharia law. Other recent fatwas have involved women drivers, unveiled young girls, smoking and even listening to music.

Two—dare I note, unfortunately timed—fatwas surfaced in media more recently.

According to Ahlulbayt News, an English-language Shia Islamic television channel, the Free Syrian Army issued a fatwa prohibiting the killing of lice in the Muslim beard or else “be punished with 50 lashes by Sharia.”

A translation of the order from the Sharia Authority in Aleppo explains:

The Sharia Authority in Aleppo has prohibited the killing of lice that appears in the Muslim beard, as some of the Muslim brothers who have released [grown] their beards in accordance with prophet Muhammad PBuH Sunnah [prophet’s doctrine], blessed lice has appeared in their beards, and that’s because of their lack of bathing due to the water non-availability all the time on the Jihad [holy war] fronts, and they have limited to ablution before their prayers (may God accept it), thus their beards became moist and thick, which made of it (in God’s will) a natural place for lice to live in.

The Sharia Authority in Aleppo recommends the Mujahideen [holy fighters] brothers to dye their beards with Henna, like our prophet Muhammad PBuH, the thing that would reduce the itching caused by the lice, and to maintain this lice that would have not appeared in those blessed beards, if it was not from God’s Muslim believing creatures.

If the jihadists are to run around and be mercilessly shelled by the Syrian government all while having itchy beards, at least their sexual appetites will be satiated long before they reach Muhammad and all of those celestial virgins. That is thanks to a separate fatwa becoming popular in some Middle Eastern regions which calls on the widows of al-Qaida commanders and fighters to join the effort through “Sexual Jihad.”

The Assyrian International News Agency reported late last month:

Reports attribute the fatwa to Saudi sheikh Muhammad al-‘Arifi, who, along with other Muslim clerics earlier permitted jihadis to rape Syrian women.

Muslim women prostituting themselves in this case is being considered a legitimate jihad because such women are making sacrifices–their chastity, their dignity–in order to help apparently sexually-frustrated jihadis better focus on the war to empower Islam in Syria…

… On the basis of this fatwa, several young Tunisian Muslim girls traveled to Syria to be “sex-jihadis.” Video interviews of distraught parents bemoaning their daughters’ fates are on the Internet, including one of a father and mother holding a picture of their daughter: “She’s only 16–she’s only 16! They brainwashed her!” pleads the father…

..While all these sex-fatwas may seem bizarre, they highlight two important (though little known in the West) points. First, that jihad is the “pinnacle” of Islam–for it makes Islam supreme; and second, the idea that “necessity makes permissible the prohibited.”

And the sex jihad is becoming increasingly popular throughout the Middle Eastern region, which is indicative of a big problem for the U.S. (a problem that has been evident to those paying attention for years) if the President decides to entangle the country in another war to help Syria’s rebels: al Qaida and various other groups of Muslim extremists are running the show in any area that the Western powers help to destabilize.

Via Alsumaria, an independent Iraqi Satellite TV Network:

A local official in Diyala province revealed that Al Qaeda Organization has asked the widows of its commanders and fighters to abide by “Sexual Jihad Fatwa” as a means of support to its guerillas; considering that such a Fatwa is transnational.

“Intelligence cells commissioned with monitoring Al Qaeda’s activities within Diyala’s borders have reported that the highly-ranked officials in the organization urged the widows of the commanders and members to abide by the sexual Jihad Fatwa. This Fatwa allows Al Qaeda’s women to have sexual intercourse with members of the organization to lift their morale”, said Al Khalis district’s administrative official, Oday Al Khadran in a statement to Alsumaria.

“The attempt to implement the Sexual Jihad Fatwa issued by clergymen that support the armed groups in Syria proves that such laws are transnational. This also points out that Al Qaeda’s course of action in Syria or in any other country is closely related to the events that are taking place in Iraq”, he added.

The President of the United States will to contend that the Nation is on some great humanitarian mission when it becomes clear that a Syrian war (to, no doubt, be followed by an Iranian conflict) is imminent— but it certainly will be a lie. In reality, the U.S. will jump headfirst into a holy war in support of the very jihadists who, we are to believe, attempted to bring us to our knees just under a decade and a half ago.

Do you want your tax dollars used in aid of people taking orders from men who advocate such barbarism as forced copulation and the proliferation of pubic lice?

What’s To Gain?

A good rule of thumb to use when evaluating whether you are hearing the truth or a lie is to first stop and consider whether the story makes sense. If it doesn’t make sense, it’s probably not true.

President Barack Obama told Syrian President Bashar Assad just more than a year ago that using chemical weapons on his people would cross a “red line.” It was on Aug. 20, 2012 that Obama made an appearance before the White House press corps and said: “We have been very clear to the Assad regime — but also to the other players on the ground — that a red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving our or being utilized. That would change my calculus; that would change my equation. We have communicated in no uncertain terms with every player in the region that that’s a red line for us and that there would be enormous consequences if we start seeing movement on the chemical weapons front or the use of chemical weapons.”

On Monday, after reports and video surfaced that purported to show Syrians — including children — suffering the effects of and dying from chemical weapons attacks, the Obama Administration went all in accusing Assad of using chemical weapons on his people. The question we must ask, then, is: Does this make sense?

In Syria’s uncivil war, Assad’s forces were repulsing the al-Qaida rebel forces aligned against them. They had fought them to a standstill at least. This occurred despite the fact that the United States, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and others were supplying them with weapons and materiel. There are even reports that the CIA and non-government “contractors” were training and fighting with the “rebels.”

Assad, a medical school graduate who was training to be an ophthalmologist in London when he was called back to Syria by his father to take a position in government, is a smart man. He certainly understood what Obama meant in his “red line” speech. He understood the universal condemnation that would follow an attack; and he no doubt understands that no matter how big he talks, he would likely meet a fate similar to Saddam Hussein’s were he to provoke the U.S. and its NATO allies into an Iraqi-style invasion.

So what did he have to gain by using chemical weapons on civilians? And what did he have to gain by inviting U.N. inspectors into Syria to investigate the attack, if he ordered it? And what did he have to gain by having his troops fire upon the U.N. inspectors who were on their way to the scene of the attack, as has been intimated in media accounts?

The answer, of course, is he had nothing to gain and everything to lose. So with nothing to gain and everything to lose, it makes no sense that he’s responsible for the gas attacks.

But the rebels have everything to gain by it. They had been stopped. There was no way forward without significant Western intervention. And reports of gas attacks on civilians would give the neocon warmongers and Obama’s handlers cover for ratcheting up operations there. For the al-Qaida-backed rebels and the military-industrial complex, it was a win-win.

But while the mainstream media have jumped on the bandwagon and begun to cheerlead for some kind of response, the American people, by and large, aren’t buying it.

Polls show that only 9 percent of Americans think the United States should involve itself in Syria’s war. About 60 percent of respondents said the U.S. should not intervene. The Syrian people aren’t buying it. And there is strong evidence the gas attacks were the work of the Free Syrian Army rebel forces.

The war-weary American people understand the United States has nothing to gain by involving itself in another Mideast hellhole. There is no good side to the Syrian war.

If Obama and his warmongering Congressional allies can provide justification for another war, they should make the case before Congress. Then, per Article 1, Section 1 of the Constitution, Congress shall have the power to declare war — and bear responsibility for the action. That would be a net gain for the Constitution and the rule of law.

Area 51: Black Helicopters Or Little Green Men?

Two weeks ago, the CIA revealed one of its worse kept government secrets in a 355-page document. It admitted that Area 51, located on a vast track of government land 80 miles northwest of Las Vegas, really does exist.

Never mind that Area 51 has been part of the American lexicon and pop culture for half a century. Only now does our government have the good grace to tell us. Better late than never, right?

Area-51-mapOf course, the CIA’s release, full of redactions, is probably less than 1 percent of the real truth of what is really going on when it comes to the government’s black operations.

We are left to guess at what secrets are hidden at Area 51, a site surrounded by mountains that has immense parts of it buried deep beneath the Nevada desert.

Most certainly it is a cache for super-secret black military projects that we can only hope are not under development for domestic operations.

Are they all human, or is it possible they are of extraterrestrial origin? I don’t see a definitive answer coming out about this in my lifetime.

After all, Washington or those really pulling the puppet-strings in Washington have billed U.S. taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars to build, fund and keep secret what goes on in and around Area 51.

In her book Area 51: An Uncensored History of America’s Top Secret Military Base, Annie Jacobsen delves into the labyrinth that is Area 51. It sits inside the largest government-controlled land parcel in the United States, some 4,700 square miles on Groom Lake, a dry lake bed. It is an area twice the size of Delaware.

The Jacobsen book is based on interviews with dozens of former Area 51 employees, all now old men who went to work there in the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s. They include detailed information from technicians, test pilots and scientists, but only on projects that are now declassified. That means the secrets in the book date back before the 1980s.

According to Jacobsen, the most bizarre and dangerous events outside of actual war have happened at Area 51. The scientists there worked a blueprint for a manned mission to Mars with a 250-foot-tall rocket that was to have been fueled by 2,000 nuclear bombs, which hopefully had controlled detonations. The laundry list for Area 51 includes top-secret spy planes like the U-2 and later the SR-71 (known as the Oxcart when it was first flown secretly by the CIA in the 1960s). Area 51 was also the testing site for nuclear weapons, including the neutron bomb, a thermonuclear device designed to release most of its energy as radiation (a great instrument if your goal is to just kill people and not destroy infrastructure).

As for extraterrestrials in giant test tubes and captured flying saucers, Jacobsen is skeptical. Yet she admits she doesn’t know for sure.

One thing we do know: Our government (or who is really running our government) wouldn’t tell us of extraterrestrial existence unless it served a purpose for the government.

One thing I am certain of is that just because there may not be alien UFOs in the sky doesn’t mean other aircraft are not flying over us right now. I might sleep better at night knowing it was ET flying over me rather than government omnipotence.

My UFO Story

I’ve been plagued by insomnia for years. Such was the case in Spokane, Wash., a decade ago. We lived past the southern edge of Spokane, so there was no light pollution — just a lot of tall pines in an open meadow. It was about 2 a.m. on a warm August night, and I was on our back deck looking at the stars. I felt this rush of air moving toward me. It was definitely not wind. I looked up and something soundless and blacker than coal flew just over the treetops blocking out the stars. The air rushed directly over me for a moment and the black object flew fast and low to the west. I never heard a sound, just an alien gust of air. As quickly as it came, it was gone. I stood up, stunned. Eventually, I went into the master bedroom.

“Angela! Angela! A UFO just flew over our house!”

“Oh you’re crazy,” said my wife. “Come to bed.”

Sleep was the last thing I could manage. I went back out on the deck. I half expected another flying vehicle overhead or (who knew?) maybe a fleet of them. Instead, there was stony silence.

It’s funny how the mind works when it faces a conundrum. By that time in life, I had pretty much accepted that I had forgotten everything I was taught in school. Yet one of the lessons came back to me from many years before when I was taking a philosophy class. (Who says philosophy never comes in handy?)

I thought back to a lecture about a 14th century friar, William of Ockham, who said that the simplest explanation is usually the right one. According to Ockham, when facing a riddle, the answer should be simpler than the riddle, not more complicated.

So I thought about what I knew. I knew something had flown over me and that the air felt like it came from a helicopter. It didn’t look or sound like a helicopter, but that didn’t mean for certain it wasn’t. I also know that as the crow flies, our backyard was 8 miles from Fairchild Air Force Base. I also knew that the U.S. Air Force was using stealth airplanes. Why not stealth helicopters? I had not yet heard of black helicopters, but this thing that flew overhead seemed to be just that.

Who Would You Trust More: ET Or Uncle Sam?

Of course, I could have believed it was aliens outside our solar system scoping out Spokane. But, frankly, I couldn’t see why they would be all that interested.

Ten years later, when my wife and I went to see the movie “Zero Dark Thirty,” I believed Ockham would have agreed with my helicopter conclusion. In the movie, which is the dramatization of the tracking and killing of Osama bin Laden, SEAL Team 6 was transported to the compound aboard top-secret helicopters. A general shows the SEALs the helicopters they will be on and states, “Technically, these don’t exist.”

When it comes to our government (or even who really is our government), there are technically a great many things that don’t exist.

Two weeks ago, we were allowed to know that Area 51 exists 70 years after it was created. But we still don’t have a clue as to what goes on at Area 51, how much black ops funding it receives and, foremost, whether it is friendly or hostile to our liberties and the American way of life.

Right now, it is all we need to know. And nobody responsible for the spending or the ultimate mission that exists in the creation and continuation of Area 51 believes that Americans have no need to know. Maybe that was a national security necessity during the Cold War. But the bastard government — in Washington or a secret cabal — is keeping too many secrets from us, the people. That is not what the framers of the U.S. Constitution envisioned.

Yours in good times and bad,

–John Myers

Government Sells Your Private Data To Marketing Companies

Why pay taxes when the government can use you – and your personal information – as a cash cow?

By selling data about individuals to marketing companies – and who has more data on people than the government? – the state can profit handsomely. And government doesn’t need to inform you about what’s going on, nor does it need your permission.

According to an investigative report by CBS Denver, that’s exactly what government – at every level – is doing.

The report interviewed a local businessman who’d begun suspecting that the deluge of well-targeted marketing material inundating his mailbox seemed to come from a source that must be highly informed about his preferences, habits and even recent major events in his life.

He was right: the Colorado Secretary of State’s office was selling his data. A spokesperson for the office confirmed that business owners’ information can be sold to private third-party marketing outfits for anywhere from $200 to $12,000 a pop. And the practice is still young and ripe for enrichment: the Secretary of State only made $59,000 from such sales last year.

“It feels like a betrayal,” said business owner Eric Meer, “Because our government is supposed to protect us, not to sell our information and profit from us.”

In addition to information about people who run their own businesses, the Secretary of State’s office in Colorado also sold voter registration information to marketing companies. Like the business data, the office claims that sale was a cost-recovery operation intended only to help defray the office’s costs of associated with database management.

(As an aside, how hard can it really be to go through the supposedly controversial voter verification process when people you don’t even know can tell you if you’re a registered voter?)

On the local level, Denver’s city clerk’s office sells homeowners’ data in cases involving foreclosures, refinancings or direct home sales. And it doesn’t stop there:

Do you ever notice a surge of confusing mail after refinancing, a foreclosure, or buying a house? The Denver Clerk and Recorder made $32,000 last year selling home sale data.

It happens in college, too. The University of Colorado Boulder buys names from the SAT for 33 cents each and names from the ACT for 34 cents each for recruiting purposes. CU sells student information to private meal plans and storage companies for $15,000 a year.

Even death is for sale. The Social Security Administration sells a “Master Death Index” for $7,500 each. The result – an onslaught of letters to surviving family members asking to purchase a home.

While it’s possible for people to limit phone contact from telemarketers by opting onto “do not call” lists, opponents of government data mining for profit have faced strong opposition from the Direct Marketing Association in mounting similar efforts to establish a “do not mail” list.

And, even if such a list ever comes into existence, the root of the problem – boundless government that answers not to citizens but to profit-motivated third parties – will remain.

Obama Says MLK Would Be On His Side, Black Conservatives Not So Sure

President Barack Obama recently used the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s iconic 1963 speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial to tout his own wildly unpopular healthcare overhaul.

During a radio interview on Tuesday, the President said that King would be a proponent of the Affordable Care Act.

“Oh, he would like that,” Obama told radio hosts Tom Joyner and Sybil Wilkes in an interview from the White House. “Well, because I think he understood that health care, health security is not a privilege; it’s something that in a country as wealthy as ours, everybody should have access to.”

According to the White House, the President has also spent time this week talking with black faith leaders about ways they can help implement Obamacare by encouraging congregants to sign up for government healthcare plans.

Meanwhile, a handful of black conservatives throughout the Nation have decried the liberal hijacking of King’s memory.

Mia Love, the black Republican mayor of Saratoga Springs, Utah, told The Hill, “I believe Dr. King would be saddened by the way that some of these leaders are telling Americans that they are victims and their only hope for a better future is a government handout. It does nothing but keep black Americans dependent.”

And failed GOP Presidential contender Hermain Cain told the publication King “would say congratulations on the progress that you have made as a nation and that black people have made in the last 50 years.”

“But he would also say shame on you as a nation for where you have lost ground,” Cain continued.

“We have lost ground, especially black people, on the number of people graduating from high school. We have lost ground, black people, on babies born out of wedlock. We have lost ground, a bit, on racial tension: I don’t think it is as bad as the 50s and 60s but the flames have been fanned by some of the things in the media,” he said.

Facebook Releases List Of Nations That Request User Data; Yes, It’s Okay To Ask For A Defense Lawyer (Yes, That’s Really A Story); California School System Hires Third Party To Spy On Kids; Obama’s Promise Of ‘Change’ Turns Out To Be Truer Than Anyone Imagined— Personal Liberty Digest™ P.M. Edition 8-27-2013

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

U.S. Dominates Volume Of Government Requests For Facebook User Info Worldwide

Facebook has released a tally sheet enumerating how many times governments have requested information on individual users over the first six months of 2013. In all, there have been more than 25,000 requests from national governments worldwide – and, as you might have guessed, the U.S. is at the front of the pack. Read More…

Short-Term Memory Loss?: Senator Obama Knows His Constitution

In light of the National Security Agency Spying revelations and what appears to be a looming military engagement in Syria, a 2007 Boston Globe interview with Senator Barack Obama is a paramount example of how the President has changed— or, perhaps, of how he lied his way into the White House. Read More… 

Student Safety Cited In L.A.-Area School District’s Hiring Of Social Media Watchdog

Citing the importance of kids’ safety, the Glendale, California Unified School District has hired a third-party social media monitoring service to begin combing through the online postings of 13,000 high school students who attend eight middle and high schools. Read More… 

Polls: Democrats Love The Computer Industry, Republicans Are Workaholics

Two recent polls give a little insight into the differences between American Democrats and Republicans with regard to which industries they most admire and how dedicated people in each group are to their own careers. Read More… 

Appeals Court: Asking For Lawyer Doesn’t Imply Guilt

No kidding? A suspect’s silence alone in police interrogations isn’t enough to trigger Fifth Amendment protections against self-incrimination, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled, citing a June U.S. Supreme Court ruling. Read More…

Polls: Democrats Love The Computer Industry, Republicans Are Workaholics

Two recent polls give a little insight into the differences between American Democrats and Republicans with regard to which industries they most admire and how dedicated people in each group are to their own careers.

A Gallup poll released last week examines how Democratic voters and Republican voters differ in how they perceive “business and industry sectors, including the federal government, the movie industry, education, publishing, the legal field, healthcare, and the automobile industry.”

Democrats strongly favored the computer industry and had a more positive view of the Federal government. Republicans, on the other hand, had more favorable opinions of agriculture-related industries and the oil and gas sector.

For some industries, there was only a marginal difference of opinion.


Gallup noted, “No single reason explains all of these partisan differences. While some may reflect clear ideological differences between Republicans and Democrats, others may be a function of differences in the demographic make up of the two parties.

A separate poll, released Tuesday by Fox News, found that Republicans may be bigger workaholics than Democrats.

From the poll:

[Twenty-four] percent of those with a job check in at least once a day. That includes 13 percent who really have trouble disconnecting and touch base with the office “several times a day.”

Some 18 percent say they check in “a few times a week.”

The number touching base with the office at least daily during their vacation is up 10 percentage points from 14 percent in 2005.

Republicans (16 percent) are nearly twice as likely as Democrats (9 percent) to check in with their office “several times a day.”

Student Safety Cited In L.A.-Area School District’s Hiring Of Social Media Watchdog

Citing the importance of kids’ safety, the Glendale, California Unified School District has hired a third-party social media monitoring service to begin combing through the online postings of 13,000 high school students who attend eight middle and high schools.

According to CBS Los Angeles, the district has hired local company Geo Listening, a self-described “social network monitoring service,” to raise the alarm whenever it comes across postings that, by its own metrics, might indicate a student is heading toward trouble.

The company has agreed to turn over any telltale information to school administrators. It earns $40,500 a year through its agreement with the school district.

“The whole purpose is student safety,” said Superintendent Richard Sheehan. “Basically, it just monitors for keywords where, if a student is considering harming themselves; harming someone else.”

According to Sheehan, during the program’s test period last year, school officials were alerted to a possible student suicide attempt and were able to avert it.

A parent and student quoted in the news report each said they didn’t mind the scrutiny or the new intrusion on the student’s privacy – even if kids’ inner thoughts are now open to a layer of meaning-laden interpretation most carefree teenagers never consider.

Geo Listening CEO Chris Frydrych said his company monitors only public social media postings, and that the service is effective in helping to prevent bullying, self-abuse, drug abuse, vandalism and truancy.

Short-Term Memory Loss?: Senator Obama Knows His Constitution

There has been a great deal of Internet chatter in recent months about the massive difference between Senator Barack Obama and President Barack Obama. In light of the National Security Agency Spying revelations and what appears to be a looming military engagement in Syria, a 2007 Boston Globe interview with Senator Obama is a paramount example of how the President has changed— or, perhaps, of how he lied his way into the White House.

Here are a few key Obama statements from the interview:

  • The Supreme Court has never held that the president has such powers. As president, I will follow existing law, and when it comes to U.S. citizens and residents, I will only authorize surveillance for national security purposes consistent with FISA and other federal statutes.
  • 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.
  • As Commander-in-Chief, the President does have a duty to protect and defend the United States. In instances of self-defense, the President would be within his constitutional authority to act before advising Congress or seeking its consent.
  • Warrantless surveillance of American citizens, in defiance of FISA, is unlawful and unconstitutional.
  • I believe the [Bush] Administration’s use of executive authority to over-classify information is a bad idea. We need to restore the balance between the necessarily secret and the necessity of openness in our democracy – which is why I have called for a National Declassification Center.
  • Any President takes an oath to, “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” The American people need to know where we stand on these issues before they entrust us with this responsibility – particularly at a time when our laws, our traditions, and our Constitution have been repeatedly challenged by this [the Bush] Administration.

Read the full interview here.

Little did Obama voters know that what the President really meant to say during his initial campaign was: “I hope no one notices how I change after I sucker them into voting me into office with empty promises about upholding the Constitution.”

H/T: Weasel Zippers 

U.S. Dominates Volume Of Government Requests For Facebook User Info Worldwide

Facebook has released a tally sheet enumerating how many times governments have requested information on individual users over the first six months of 2013. In all, there have been more than 25,000 requests from national governments worldwide – and, as you might have guessed, the U.S. is at the front of the pack.

The release, dubbed the “Global Government Requests Report,” not only shows the frequency with which Facebook is approached by governments requesting information, but the number of times Facebook has complied.

Facebook honored 79 percent of the estimated 12,000 U.S. government requests it received in an effort to gain information on an estimated 20,000 individual users.

As Adi Robertson of tech website The Verge explains, the nature of the requests range from trifling to significant.

The table lists anything made by any government branch, from standard law enforcement to more covert activities, and it includes requests for all kinds of information. That means we’re looking at everything from a police subpoena asking for a burglar’s account email address to a secret court order for the IP address of a protestor.

… These numbers appear to have risen slightly from Facebook’s estimates in 2012. Unlike all other country data, the US numbers can’t even be reported exactly. The gag orders associated with FBI national security letters and FISA court requests make it difficult to talk about many orders at all, and Facebook was only allowed to start mentioning them in ranges in June.

As you’ll see on the Facebook press release page, the U.S. is indeed the only country whose numbers are mere estimates; all others are presented with single-digit precision.

Report Shows How Recession Hit U.S. Families

WASHINGTON, (UPI) —  The number of U.S. households with an unemployed parent and a child under 18 living at home soared from 2005 to 2011, a Census Bureau report says.

The report, titled “America’s Families and Living Arrangements: 2012,” says there were 2.4 million households in 2005 with an unemployed parent and at least one child under 18 in 2005. By 2011, that number had grown 33 percent to 3.2 million, the Census Bureau said Tuesday.

“During the recession, economic well-being worsened for families with children. Home ownership among families declined, while food stamp receipt and parental unemployment increased. Even after the recession officially ended in 2009, these measures remained worse than before it began,” said report co-author Jamie Lewis, a demographer in the Census Bureau’s Fertility and Family Statistics Branch.

In some states, the statistic escalated dramatically, including Nevada with a 148 percent increase, Hawaii at 95 percent, Florida at 93 percent, and Connecticut, New Jersey and California each with gains of more than 60 percent.

In the same period, the number of households with children under 18 who owned their own homes plummeted, dropping by 15 percent to 20.8 million.

The largest declines were in Michigan, Arizona and California, with drops of 23 percent in Michigan and 22 percent in Arizona and California.

In Ohio, the decline was 20 percent. In New Hampshire and Florida, it was 19 percent, the Census Bureau said.

In another statistic that could be related to economics, the report said a higher percentage of adults ages 25 to 34 were living in their parents’ home in 2012 than was the case in the early 2000s.

Among young adult men, the percentage rose from 13 percent to 17 percent from 2000 to 2012. For young adult women, the percentage rose from 8 percent to 10 percent, the report said.

Medications Of Breastfeeding Mothers Do Not Harm Baby

ROCKVILLE, Md., (UPI) —  Doctors often tell new mothers to stop taking medications while breastfeeding to protect the infants, but this may not be needed, U.S. researchers say.

Hari Cheryl Sachs of Rockville, Md., said many mothers are inappropriately advised to discontinue breastfeeding or avoid taking essential medications because of fears of adverse effects on their infants. This cautious approach may be unnecessary in many cases, because only a small proportion of medications are contraindicated in breastfeeding mothers or associated with adverse effects on their infants, Sachs said.

Previous statements on this topic from the American Academy of Pediatrics provided physicians with data concerning the known excretion of specific medications into breast milk. More current and comprehensive information is now available on the Internet, as well as an application for mobile devices, at LactMed at: toxnet.nlm.nih.gov.  Therefore, with the exception of radioactive compounds requiring temporary cessation of breastfeeding, the reader will be referred to LactMed to obtain the most current data on an individual medication, the study said.

This report discusses several topics of interest surrounding lactation, such as the use of psychotropic therapies, drugs to treat substance abuse, narcotics and herbal products, as well as immunization of breastfeeding women.

The findings are published online ahead of the print edition of Pediatrics.

Half Of U.S. Teen App Users Avoid An App Due To Privacy

PHILADELPHIA, (UPI) —  Almost 6-in-10 U.S. teens say they have downloaded an app, but more than half of teen app users avoided an app due privacy concerns, researchers say.

Lead author Mary Madden, senior researcher for the Pew Research Center’s Internet Project, and colleagues at the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University found 26 percent of teen app users have uninstalled an app because they learned it was collecting personal information.

In addition, 46 percent of teen app users turned off location tracking features on their cellphone or in an app because they were worried about the privacy of their information.

In focus group discussions, participants said they primarily downloaded social media and game apps to their phones and tablets, though they also downloaded apps relating to music, news and the weather. When choosing which apps to download, participants stated that they typically downloaded free ones.

Survey data showed boys stand out as the most active app downloaders, and girls were most likely to disable location tracking features on their phones and in apps.

“Teens are on the front lines of figuring out the complex world of privacy management of on their mobile devices,” Madden said in a statement. “They realize that cellphones can be used to monitor their whereabouts, and they will avoid apps if they feel like the data requests are unnecessary or excessive.”

The findings were based on a U.S. phone survey of 802 parents and their 802 teens ages 12-17, conducted July 26-Sept. 30, 2012. The margin of error for the full sample was 4.5 percentage points.

The Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard gathered data from focus groups from February to April.

Facebook Reveals Requests By World Governments For User Data

MENLO PARK, Calif., (UPI) —  Facebook has issued a report revealing it fielded requests from 74 countries for data on at least 38,000 users in the first half of 2013.

The report released Tuesday provided details on the scale and scope of data requests Facebook received from governments around the world, requests made both for security investigations and criminal cases, The Washington Post reported.

The United States made the most requests, the report said, asking for access to more than 20,000 accounts; Facebook said it supplied the requested data in around 79 percent of cases.

Britain made the second-most requests for data from Facebook, 1,975 requests from 2,337 user accounts, while France, Germany, India and Italy also made more than 1,000 requests during the first half of 2013, Facebook’s report said.

Facebook said on its Web site it plans to release such reports regularly; in so doing it will join a number of technology firms, including Google and Twitter, which have been issuing regular reports on data access requests in past years.

Washington-based non-profit The Center for Democracy and Technology hailed the Facebook report but called on the Obama administration to allow technology firms to be even more specific about the number and scope of requests issued by the U.S. government.

“[We] hope that the Obama administration and Congress will work together to ensure that companies like Facebook can soon engage in meaningful transparency reporting about the full range of government surveillance of Internet users,” Kevin Bankston, the group’s free expression director, said in a statement.

Condo Association Threatens Fine For U.S. Flag In Window

BOSTON, (UPI) —  A Boston man said he believes his condo company would violate a federal law if it follows through with plans to fine him for a U.S. flag in his window.

Mark DiGiovanni, 52, said the company that manages his condominium building sent him a “gentle reminder” Monday he could face a $25-per-day fine for violating the “white curtains only” rule by putting a U.S. flag in his window, the Boston Herald reported Tuesday.

DiGiovanni said he plans to challenge the fine, which he said would violate the 2005 federal Freedom to Display the American Flag Act. The act says condo associations “may not adopt or enforce any policy, or enter into any agreement, that would restrict or prevent a member of the association from displaying the flag of the United States” in their own condo.

Condo association trustee Sean McGrail said the association was reacting to a violation of the colored curtains ban. He said the board does not plan to comment further on the dispute.