Arkansas School District Defiant Of AG Opinion That Teachers Can’t Carry Concealed

An Arkansas school district that decided late last month to arm some faculty members at its schools is forging ahead with the plan, despite receiving an advisory opinion from the State Attorney General that it should give up on the idea.

The school board in Clarksville, Arkansas had authorized more than 20 teachers and administrators – all volunteers – to undergo firearms training so that they could anonymously carry concealed weapons at the start of the 2013-2014 school year as a deterring and protective measure against would-be mass shooters on campus.

But Attorney General Dustin McDaniel issued an advisory opinion ordering the school district to reverse course and abandon the plan. After consulting with board attorneys, Clarksville Superintendent David Hopkins came to the conclusion that the AG’s opinion is incorrect and unenforceable.

There’s the possibility that the State police could intervene to end the program, although Hopkins warned that the school district would take legal action if that happens. About one-third of the faculty haven’t yet gone through their firearms training, nor been deputized, and Hopkins said the State has no legal right to deny their concealed carry permits as part of a strategy to derail the school board’s decision.

Hopkins has publicly rejected the gun-free approach to school safety, saying that hiding and hoping for the best when an active shooter is rampant is “not a plan.”

Each concealed carry employee must pass a 53-hour training course, whereupon he or she will be awarded a $1,100 stipend to buy a handgun and holster. The district is also paying a total of $50,000 for ammunition and training.

H/T: The Daily Caller

De Facto Punishment For Graffiti Tagging Derelict Buildings In Miami Beach: Death

A Miami Beach resident died last week after he ran from police, who’d caught him graffiti tagging an abandoned building and decided to put an end to the ensuing foot pursuit by shooting the offender in the chest with a Taser.

Israel Hernandez-Llach, 18, was pronounced dead at an area emergency room after Miami Beach Police caught up with him and shot him once with the Taser. Friends at the scene said the officers were giving each other high fives and laughing as Hernandez-Llach lay on the ground. There’s no mention of that in the police report and no other way to verify it other than eyewitness accounts.

Despite reports from his friends indicating he was a generally good person, it’s obvious Hernandez-Llach appeared to be violating the law and defacing property that wasn’t his when he elected to run from police, fleeing his alleged target — an abandoned, boarded-up former McDonald’s restaurant. There have also been conflicting reports about his legal status as an immigrant from Columbia.

But Miami Beach police neither knew nor cared about any of that when they gave chase. One family attorney told Reuters on Thursday: “There is no justification for this kind of action for a second-degree misdemeanor,” an offense for which he likely wouldn’t have faced prosecution. A typical punishment for Hernandez-Llach’s alleged crime is a brief stint doing community service.

“I saw four or five cops converge on him and hit him up against the wall,” said Felix Fernandez, one of Hernandez-Llach’s friends, who was on police lookout duty while the graffiti artist worked his magic. “They were making jokes about how he stiffened up when he was tased. They were congratulating each other on how they caught him.”

Miami Beach police are bound by a standard operation procedure that confines their use of Tasers to a “subject  [who] is not in the physical control of the officer yet poses a threat,” or to situations whenever “the officer, based on objective reasonableness, perceives an imminent threat of physical force against himself, other persons, property or self-inflicted injury.”

Hernandez-Llach, who went by the street handle “Reefa” in his graffiti endeavors, also had more serious art aspirations and had gained a small following among the Miami art community as a sculptor and painter. His work had been accepted for showings at area museums and galleries.

“In my 20 years as an art teacher, Israel was one of the most unique and talented students I have ever encountered,’’ Frank O’Hare, Hernandez-Llach’s art teacher at Miami Beach High, told the Miami Herald last week.

The medical examiner’s office is not ruling on a cause of death until the results of an autopsy can be reviewed. Miami Beach police officer Jorge Mercado, who fired the Taser that struck Hernandez-Llach, has been placed on mandatory 72-hour paid leave per departmental guidelines.

Poll: Americans Believe MSM Has Liberal Bias, Doing Poor Job As Government Watchdog

A poll released last week shows Americans’ faith in traditional mainstream media as an unbiased source for incisive government monitoring continues to decline, as Internet-based news outlets continue to gain the trust of readers fed up with what they believe is a liberal bias among traditional news sources.

The expansive Pew Research poll, released last Thursday, shows public perception of the mainstream news media “mired near all-time lows,” even as respondents continue to believe that it’s the job of news organizations to watch the government and prevent elected leaders and policy makers from aggrandizing unConstitutional power.

From the poll’s summary report:

Outside of its role as a watchdog, the press receives broadly negative ratings from the public on core performance measures. Two-thirds (67%) say that news reports are often inaccurate, and even greater percentages say that news organizations tend to favor one side (76%) and are often influenced by powerful people and organizations (75%). Ratings of news organizations have declined steadily since Pew Research first began tracking attitudes in 1985, and many current ratings stand near all-time lows reached in 2011.

When it comes to bias, which way do viewers think the mainstream media leans? Not surprisingly, more respondents believe the news veers to the left. Of those surveyed, 46 percent said the media reflects liberal ideology, while only 26 percent believe the news is biased toward a conservative point of view. Another 19 percent felt the media’s reporting is largely unbiased, and 9 percent said they didn’t know.

The move toward the Internet and away from print media as a viable news option represents a major shift in consumer habits over the past decade, when Pew conducted a similar study. In 2001, 45 percent of respondents said they primarily looked to newspapers as their source for news, with only 13 percent relying on the Internet.

Today, 50 percent say they go to the Internet first for news, with only 28 percent citing newspapers as their primary choice.

See more from the study, including a breakdown of how consumer behavior differs according to party lines, at the Pew website.

San Diego Schools Set To Indoctrinate Students Against ‘Stand Your Ground’ Laws, Self Reliance

The San Diego Unified School District will essentially require public school students to keep talking about the Trayvon Martin self-defense shooting this fall, following a July 30 school board vote ordering superintendent Cindy Marten to “initiate dialogues among middle and high school students across the district concerning the Trayvon Martin case.”

In addition to requiring students to “speak honestly about their identification with Trayvon Martin’s story, including feelings of fear, anger, and skepticism that they will live in a just society as they prepare for the future,” the board also invites them to “speak honestly about ‘Stand Your Ground’ laws that could give one person an unfair advantage over another.”

Why don’t they just go ahead and advance-write the script for these dialogues and tell everyone in the 132,000-student district what to think?

According to The College Fix, board member Marne Foster said she and her three sons, along with the other students in California’s second-largest school district, “are still living in a time of Emmitt Till.”

Here’s an excerpt from the board’s resolution outlining the aims of the dialog program:

The dialogue with District middle and high school students would provide opportunity for the following to occur:

  • Allow students to speak honestly about their identification with Trayvon Martin’s story, including feelings of fear, anger and skepticism that they will live in a just society as they prepare for the future.

  • Allow students to speak honestly about the world view that prompted George Zimmerman to confront Trayvon Martin.

  • Help students develop perspectives and strategies to channel their feelings about Trayvon Martin into positive work for themselves and the larger community.

  • Allow students to speak honestly about the “Stand Your Ground” laws that could give one person an unfair advantage over another and the pros and cons of their perceptions.

  • Help students develop perspectives and strategies to channel their feelings when confronted by others in an authoritative manner.

  • Students will discuss “The Single Stories” of Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman and identify other diverse stories and their impact on the American public that speak of the trial.

  • Students will discuss the decisions that George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin chose to operate out of and how that could have been done differently.

Hapless students of the San Diego Unified School District: martyrs and victims in training.

Starbucks Benefits From 2nd Amendment Supporters’ ‘Appreciation Day’ Today

If you live in a State with open carry laws that don’t disgrace the U.S. Constitution, your local Starbucks could be one of the safest places you can pass the time tonight.

That’s because it’s time for Starbucks Appreciation Day, an informal event in which gun owners show their support for the chain of coffee stores. The love-in represents the efforts of citizens Nationwide who value the 2nd Amendment to honor the hands-off stance the company has taken in the face of demands from gun control advocates to ban firearms from Starbucks stores.

Despite the blowback from some gun control groups, the Starbucks Appreciation Day people don’t come across as trigger-happy loons protesting their point too loudly. From the “Starbucks appreciation day” Facebook page:

Starbucks is allowing us to lawfully carry firearms in their store. Recently, they have been the target of unjust attacks from certain groups that do not support our right to bear arms. We will thank starbucks for standing up for our right to bear arms by going there on Friday, August 9th.

We ask that if you choose to carry a firearm during this event that you follow all local, state, and national laws; and if you choose not to carry that you wear pro-gun rights apparel.

Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz has all but admitted he’s not interested in associating a proactive “gun culture” with his company’s brand, but he’s earned the admiration of many Constitutional conservatives by taking a hands-off approach on hot-button civil liberty issues that have been foisted upon the company from both the right and the left.

In 2010, Schultz told ABC News the company wouldn’t implement any gun policies that added to or took away from Federal, State and local laws. “I’m not a politician,” he said. “I run a coffee company and we’re trying to abide by the laws in which we do business.”

Schultz revealed a similarly Libertarian point of view on the subject of same-sex marriage back in March, when a heavy-hitting shareholder tried to bully him into dropping its support for legislation in Washington State supporting domestic partnership benefits.

“If you feel, respectfully, that you can get a higher return than the 38 percent you got [from Starbucks stock growth] last year, it’s a free country,” he said. “You can sell your shares of Starbucks and buy shares in another company. Thank you very much.”

Whistle-Blowing Retired Marine Puts Halt To Landlord’s Bid For Gun-Free Apartments

A television news report that residents of a Colorado public housing apartment complex wouldn’t be permitted to keep weapons in their own homes has engendered sufficient concern among the community’s housing board to compel the apartment management group responsible for the would-be ban to change their minds — or else.

A 77-year-old retired Marine living at the Oakwood Apartment complex in Castle Rock, Colo., contacted NBC 9News in Denver about the letter he and other residents had received notifying them of the forthcoming “gun-free” mandate, issued by property management company Ross Management Group. The ban on all firearms for current and future residents was to take effect Oct. 1.

But once officials on the board of the Douglas County Housing partnership — a Federally and locally funded public housing authority — saw the news station’s original report Wednesday, they grew alarmed and moved swiftly to contact the Ross Group.

In the hours between the evening and late news broadcasts Wednesday, the policy had been overruled. The county commission had learned of the ban and called on the housing authority to hold an emergency meeting. The Douglas County Housing Partnership did just that late Wednesday afternoon, deciding without hesitation to overrule the Ross Group.

Douglas County Director of Public Affairs Wendy Holmes told 9News that county commissioners were relieved that the housing board averted possible legal action by quickly striking down the ban.

“The Board of Douglas County Commissioners is pleased that the Housing Authority concurred with the Commissioner’s position that the policy changes from Ross Management should not move forward. We thank them for a quick and proper conclusion,” Holmes said.

Art Dorsch, the 77-year-old veteran who blew the whistle, thought he’d be forced to move out when he discovered the notice.

“They want to take them all away from me,” Dorsch said. “They say I can’t live here. I’m vulnerable. I’m not safe… Yeah, it’s emotional, because I don’t think it’s fair.”

By the day’s end, Dorsch knew he wouldn’t be forced to move. And he may even have had an inkling that he’d become a hero for neighbors, 2nd Amendment advocates nationwide and a grateful county government that didn’t need a potential lawsuit over how it was unwittingly using Section 8 funds to create a Constitution-free zone.

Freedom Prevails As Officials Scrap Texas School System’s RFID Student Monitoring Program

A pilot program at a massive San Antonio school district that required students to wear microchipped IDs and submit to on-campus location tracking at all times has been canned — in part due to students’ staunch resistance and the support of freedom-minded Texans who vehemently campaigned against it.

Students at John Jay High School and Anson Jones Middle School — both part of the city’s Northside Independent School District (NSID) — had been asked to carry the cards, which housed radio-frequency identification (RFID) chips so that administrators could know their locations. The test program had been in place at the two schools — affecting a combined student population of 4,200 — since the start of the 2012-2013 academic year. There are about 100,000 students in the district as a whole. A representative for the pilot program insinuated late last year that the goal was to expand RFID tagging to all students.

John Jay sophomore Andrea Hernandez spearheaded a student effort to stand up to the district for attempting to track and herd students as if they were cattle, and she did so early and often. The Board of Education attempted to shun the negative publicity, omitting any mention of a huge protest at its Aug. 28 meeting from its public distillation of the minutes.

Hernandez never wore her RFID badge. She persuaded other students not to wear theirs. She was kicked out of John Jay High School in January, but by then, the logistical task of enforcing the program’s “requirements” in the face of so much resistance — as well as the negative publicity and public outcry engendered from national coverage of the swelling controversy — had begun to stack the odds against Big Brother.

Despite legal defeats and disappointment with efforts to persuade the Texas State Legislature, Hernandez and her family had helped foster broad participation among students and parents within the district, as well as out-of-State residents concerned that their own school districts would attempt RFID monitoring. Hernandez’ father said he has spoken with parents in Florida, Louisiana and Pennsylvania who are preparing to resist similar programs.

In announcing the end of the ID tagging ploy, NSID Superintendent Brian Woods said, “When we looked at the attendance rates, surveys of parents… how much effort it took to track down students and make them wear the badges, and to a lesser degree, the court case and negative publicity, we decided not to [continue] it.”

The pilot program cost half a million dollars to set up at the two schools, and would have required $140,000 annually for maintenance at the two locations. San Antonio-based Wade Garcia & Associates was originally hired to implement and maintain the program.

ACLU: Government’s Empty Promise To Tell Defendants They’ve Been Spied On

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) celebrated a small court victory — really, more of a concession — in a Tuesday article, lauding the government’s decision to honor a pledge it had made before the Supreme Court to notify criminal defendants if evidence obtained under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) is brought against them in court.

Watching United States v. Qazi, an obscure Florida case, the ACLU observed that the government had admitted it is obligated to inform defendants of any evidence prosecutors had gained through surveillance conducted under provisions in the FISA Amendments Act (FAA).

ACLU called that admission an important concession. But the ACLU noted the government was essentially admitting it would, from now on, police itself and act on faith. The idea of relying on the government’s self-restraint illustrates “several significant qualifiers that highlight a larger problem,” the civil liberties group noted.

Because only the government has the power to prosecute, it ultimately controls which defendants — if any — have the opportunity to challenge the FAA. Thus, the government can continue to avoid court review of the statute by choosing not to use FAA-derived evidence at trial, by offering impossible-to-turn-down plea bargains or, in the extreme case, by abandoning prosecutions that risk an adverse ruling. In our legal system, judicial review should not occur only at the grace of the executive branch.

An even more troubling possibility exists. Reuters reported yesterday that law enforcement agents may be actively seeking to conceal the source of evidence derived from NSA surveillance, in order to avoid court challenges.

It’s a relatively safe bet that any amount of forthcoming contrition or self-policing on the part of the Feds over the extent to which law enforcement can unConstitutionally and furtively deploy its massive panopticon machine is momentary — a pre-emptive damage control measure to demonstrate that, amid spy scandal after spay scandal, it can be trusted. People’s eyes are focused on Big Data and Big Brother right now, so now’s the time for Big Brother to throw the media a bone. It won’t last. In fact, it’s meaningless in the present context of every other extraordinary Federal abuse of due process.

ACLU points out that, for every tiny step forward, there’s an enormous leap backward:

Another report indicates that the NSA may have referred as many as 30 non-terrorism criminal cases to the Department of Justice based on information it obtained through electronic surveillance. Yet, to date, not a single defendant has received notice of prosecutors’ intent to use FAA-derived evidence.

If law enforcement agencies are manufacturing an “independent” basis for their criminal investigations in order to conceal their reliance on NSA surveillance, that practice violates both the letter and the spirit of the law. Criminal defendants have the right to know when the government’s evidence is derived from the NSA’s interception of their communications, so that they can test the lawfulness of that surveillance. Judicial review of the government’s warrantless wiretapping program should be more than a hypothetical promise to the Supreme Court.

Low-Information Voters; Low-Information President: Obama Geography Puts Savannah, Charleston, Jacksonville On Gulf Coast

President Barack Obama get plenty of heat for his gaffes and denials on Tuesday’s “Tonight Show” interview with Jay Leno. He told Leno the government doesn’t have a domestic spying program and appeared to insinuate terrorism deaths “unfortunately” haven’t yet surpassed automobile deaths in the U.S.

Obama also heartily embraced improving the Nation’s infrastructure, using the example of deepening several ports to make the U.S. competitive with Latin America. He wants to deepen the ports in places like Charleston, S.C., Savannah, Ga. And Jacksonville, Fla. – you know, those towns all along the…Gulf of Mexico?!

Here’s the exchange, transcribed by The Blaze:

LENO:  You mentioned infrastructure.  Why is that a partisan issue?  I live in a town, the bridge is falling apart, it’s not safe.  How does that become Republican or Democrat?  How do you not just fix the bridge?

THE PRESIDENT:  I don’t know.  As you know, for the last three years, I’ve said, let’s work together.  Let’s find a financing mechanism and let’s go ahead and fix our bridges, fix our roads, sewer systems, our ports.  ..The Panama [Canal] is being widened so that these big supertankers can come in.  Now, that will be finished in 2015.  If we don’t deepen our ports all along the Gulf — places like Charleston, South Carolina, or Savannah, Georgia, or Jacksonville, Florida — if we don’t do that, those ships are going to go someplace else.  And we’ll lose jobs.  Businesses won’t locate here.

Remember when liberals couldn’t stop talking about Dan Quayle’s potatoe?

Hopefully, if Obama deepens these “Gulf” ports, it will at least be done in a fashion consistent with George W. Bush’s quixotic dream of man coexisting peacefully wish fishkind:

HuffPo: Rangel Should ‘Absolutely Not’ Apologize

Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.) raised a big stink last week when he said the Tea Party is the same “white crackers” civil rights activists overcame in the 1960s and said the House GOP is worse than Muslim terrorists.

Your comments on the Rangel story revealed every fallacious permutation of Rangel’s race-baiting, fallacious liberal tactic, highlighting the difference between men like Rangel and his civil rights-era betters – men like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. – who’d be shamed by the manner in which the censured Congressman continues to fan the flames of a nonexistent race war for political benefit.

Now comes Huffington Post columnist Earl Ofari Hutchinson to beat on the racial embers some more, penning an opinion piece this week explaining why Rangel should “absolutely not” apologize for comparing today’s Constitutional conservatives with dead racist Southern Democrats.

The piece is essentially a conjecture exercise in which Hutchinson explains what he thinks would have happened if Tea Party types had been running the show in the 1960s. He also pauses to castigate a couple of examples of Tea Party racism (no mention of Rangel’s own racism, or of other Democrat hypocrite apostates like sexists Anthony Weiner, Elliott Spitzer and Bob Filner).

Here’s the pith:

It requires no leap of imagination to connect the racial dots from the past to the present within the Tea Party ranks. One doesn’t have to shout a racial pejorative at them as Rangel did to figure that if the titanic civil rights bills of the past were on the nation’s legislative table today they’d again rush to the barricades to battle against them. For saying that, Rangel need offer no apology.

Keep fanning the flames, racist parasites. You’re defrauding the very people whom you claim to defend. It’s not like Rangel has much to be sorry for anyway.

Illinois Bill To Pay Businesses That Hire Ex-Cons; Democratic Sponsor Says Felons Are ‘40 Percent’ Of State Population

Over the weekend, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn signed off on a set of new laws intended to curb the State’s soaring rate of recidivism for ex-felons.

One, sponsored by State Senator Patricia Van Pelt-Watkins (D-Chicago) and State Representative Arthur Turner (D-Chicago), raises the income tax credit for businesses that hire ex-felons from $600 to a new maximum of $1,500 per employee. Employers can receive the credit for five years, and they are eligible if they hire a qualifying ex-con within three years of release from prison.

While it’s true that well-intentioned ex-cons face tremendous legal and societal hurdles that often make the task of integrating into a fruitful post-prison role monumentally difficult, the trend must be an all-out epidemic in Illinois. CBS Chicago reports that Watkins touted the tax credit by observing it would benefit the State’s 4 million ex-felons; that’s 40 percent of the adult population.

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“They know they are not going to get a job, they know they can’t get in school, they can’t even volunteer in a children’s school if you have a criminal record,” Watkins said.

An Illinois retail industry advocate told the Chicago Tribune the tax credit “really doesn’t have cost to the state. In fact, it will pay the state back in the long run because these ex-offenders aren’t being hired today.”

RNC Chair To Networks: Axe Hillary Biopics, Or We Won’t Debate On Your Channels For 2016

The Republican National Committee (RNC) is planning to effectively exclude NBC and CNN from hosting the 2016 Presidential primary debates if the two networks go forward with plans to air major productions that commemorate the career of Hillary Clinton.

RNC Chairman Reince Priebus released open letters to both networks Monday, claiming the lionizing of an active career politician represents an “in-kind donation” that (further) jeopardizes their journalistic credibility.

The two letters are similar in content, but Priebus amplifies his NBC version with this extra salvo:

There’s ample cause for concern. Executives and employees of Comcast, NBC’s parent company, have been generous supporters of Democrats and Secretary Clinton. David Cohen, Comcast’s EVP, raised over $1.4 million from President Obama’s reelection efforts and hosted a fundraiser for the president. Comcast Corp. employees have donated $522,996 to the president and donated $161,640 to Secretary Clinton’s previous campaigns.

Your company has expressly stated that your choice to air the miniseries in the near future would avoid concerns of running afoul of equal time election laws. This suggests a deliberate attempt at influencing American political opinion in favor of a preferred candidate, not to mention a guilty conscience.

…I find this disturbing and disappointing. NBC cannot purport to be a neutral party in American politics, and the credibility of NBC News, already damaged by the partisanship of MSNBC, will be further undermined by the actions of NBC Universal executives who have taken it upon themselves to produce an extended commercial for Secretary Clinton’s nascent campaign.

NBC has announced it will cast Diane Lane in a miniseries portraying Clinton; CNN has a feature-length Clinton documentary in the works. Clinton herself has remained coy about her 2016 ambitions, though it’s easy to envision a scenario in which she could time her campaign announcements to capitalize on the airing of a national television event in her honor.

Priebus gave the two networks until Aug. 14 to pull the Clinton shows, pledging to call for a binding vote at the RNC’s summer meeting late next week to “neither partner with you in 2016 primary debates nor sanction primary debates with your sponsor.”

Army Loyal To Contractors With Al-Qaida Ties As Embassies Close In Fear Of Al-Qaida

Amid news that 19 U.S. embassies were being shuttered this week, thanks to an alert that Al-Qaida may be mobilizing an attack, comes a report to Congress from the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction that condemns the U.S. Army for refusing to drop contracts with people and companies that have been linked to the Al-Qaida supply chain.

Special Inspector General John Sopko said in his report that, despite his recommendation that the Army cut ties with at least 43 contractors – “including supporters of the Taliban, the Haqqani network and al Qaeda” – the Army refused in every case.

From the report:

…[C]ontract oversight must become a top priority to policy planners or else we will repeat the mistakes of the past and waste taxpayer money.

…The Army Suspension and Debarment Office appears to believe that suspension or debarment of these individuals and companies would be a violation of their due process rights if based on classified information or if based on findings by the Department of Commerce.

I am deeply troubled that the U.S. military can pursue, attack, and even kill terrorists and their supporters, but that some in the U.S. government believe we cannot prevent these same people from receiving a government contract. I feel such a position is not only legally wrong, it is contrary to good public policy and contrary to our national security goals in Afghanistan. I continue to urge you to change this faulty policy and enforce the rule of common sense in the Army’s suspension and debarment program.

In other words, Sopko has a fundamental problem with the Army going after terrorists while simultaneously propping them up with remunerative contracts for goods and services. So why doesn’t the government?

Fox News reported Monday that Congress has responded to the report by introducing a bill that would restrict U.S. agencies from handing out contracts to companies that support extremists in Afghanistan. The bill also seeks to give the Inspector General the power to suspend such contracts if they fail to meet that requirement.

How National Review Journalist Jillian Melchior Got Three Obamaphones

National Review Franklin Fellow Jillian Kay Melchior published a piece last week detailing how she, a comfortably affluent New Yorker with a white collar job, was able to qualify for three free government-paid cell phones through the Lifeline program – a public service established in the pre-cell phone Reagan era to ensure impoverished or geographically-isolated people could call 911 in the event of emergencies.

Like every other government subsidy President Barack Obama inherited from previous administrations, the Lifeline program has exploded into an entitlement bazaar. “Obamaphones” aren’t supposed to be available to people who don’t qualify for at least one other government welfare subsidy (such as Food Stamps), and they’re limited, in principle at least, to one phone per recipient.

But Melchior explained to Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren how, through the abuses of privatized implementation and the ever-sinking welfare threshold under Obama, she was able to receive three Obamaphones – two from the same provider.

Surveillance Monday! FBI Eavesdrops; DOJ Wants iTunes; DEA Dishes Data To LEOs; Obamacare’s Cadillac Tax; Late Night Laughs At Dems – Monday Morning News Roundup 8-5-2013

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

 

  • CNET has learned the FBI has developed custom “port reader” software to intercept Internet metadata in real time. And, in some cases, it wants to force Internet providers to use the software. The government is quietly pressuring telecommunications providers to install the eavesdropping technology deep inside companies’ internal networks to facilitate surveillance efforts. Source: CNET…

 

  • After winning last month an e-books antitrust suit against Apple, the Justice Department on Friday asked a Federal judge to limit Apple’s influence in the publishing market and give the government oversight of the iTunes Store and App Store. Source: The Wall Street Journal… 

 

  • A secretive U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration unit is funneling information from intelligence intercepts, wiretaps, informants and a massive database of telephone records to authorities across the Nation to help them launch criminal investigations of Americans. Source: Reuters… 

 

  • Cities across the country are pushing municipal unions to accept cheaper health benefits in anticipation of a component of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that will tax expensive plans starting in 2018. The so-called Cadillac tax was inserted into the law at the advice of economists who argued that expensive health insurance with the employee bearing little cost made people insensitive to the cost of care. Source: The New York Times… 

 

  • A study of gags by late-night comics during the first half of the year found an abrupt change from 2012. Now President Barack Obama and Democrats are providing the lion’s share of punchlines. Source: Fox News… 

 

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

Record Number Of Young Adults Living With Parents

A Pew study released late last week reveals more young adults — 21.6 million — are living at home with their parents than at any time in America’s history.

Perhaps that’s to be expected, since the Nation’s overall population continues, gradually, to grow. But the study also found that a higher proportion of the young adult population is living back at home than at any time immediately before, during or after the 2008 recession.

In fact, the 36 percent of young “millennials” living with parents represents the highest ratio in more than 40 years, when the culture of the nuclear family in the United States was far more dominant. Live-at-home data reaching farther into the past than 1968 doesn’t exist, so there’s no way to know if today’s statistics reflect a true all-time high for the Nation.

The study, which analyzed information drawn from a March follow-up survey augmenting the 2010 census, found that 32 percent of millennial adults lived with parents in 2007. That’s a number that had remained relatively consistent since 1968.

By the “official” end of the recession in 2009, the number had risen to 34 percent. In 2012, despite repeated chirpy proclamations from the White House that the economy is in recovery mode, the number had climbed past 36 percent.

The economy heads a list of three key factors the Pew researchers credit for fueling the “crash-with-mom” trend.

The steady rise in the share of young adults who live in their parents’ home appears to be driven by a combination of economic, educational and cultural factors. Among them:

  • Declining employment. In 2012, 63% of 18- to 31-year-olds had jobs, down from the 70% of their same-aged counterparts who had jobs in 2007. In 2012, unemployed Millennials were much more likely than employed Millennials to be living with their parents (45% versus 29%).
  • Rising college enrollment. In March 2012, 39% of 18- to 24-year-olds were enrolled in college, up from 35% in March 2007. Among 18 to 24 year olds, those enrolled in college were much more likely than those not in college to be living at home – 66% versus 50%.
  • Declining marriage. In 2012 just 25% of Millennials were married, down from the 30% of 18- to 31-year-olds who were married in 2007. Today’s unmarried Millennials are much more likely than married Millennials to be living with their parents (47% versus 3%).

Comparing today’s family demographic trends with those of 1968 also revealed that singles with children and cohabitation between unmarried partners are both way up (from 5.5 percent to 26 percent), and the number of married spouses sharing a home is way down (from 56 percent to 27 percent).

See the survey overview here. The full report is here.

Bail Out Detroit? Democrats: Maybe; Rest Of America: NO!

A Quinnipiac poll shows no decisive public will, even among Democrats, to involve the Federal government in whatever rescue operation may be deployed to dredge the ashes of Detroit for an economic bailout.

Only 51 percent of Democrats polled said they support a taxpayer-funded bailout, funneled through Washington, D.C., for Detroit, which is seeking bankruptcy protection over the opposition of State pensioners whose retirement funds could be decimated by court-approved write-offs of public debt.

By contrast, 73 percent of Republicans said they oppose any form of Federal bailout. And the majority opinion of Americans, regardless of their political views, is on the same side. Only 33 percent of all Americans polled said they support a government safety net for Detroit, while 57 percent said they were opposed.

The poll, which questioned 1,468 voters late last month on a number of current topics ranging from the Detroit bailout to “Stand Your Ground” laws to Congress and President
Barack Obama, showed a strong divide among various racial demographics on the extent to which the government should get involved in structuring a rescue plan for the Motor City.

With large racial and gender divisions, American voters back so-called “Stand Your Ground” laws 53 – 40 percent, according to a Quinnipiac University national poll released today. Voters also say by a wide margin that the federal government should not bail out Detroit.

…Partisan and racial splits also mark American voters’ 57 – 33 percent opposition to a federal bailout of bankrupt Detroit.

Democrats back a bailout 51 – 35 percent, while opposition is 73 – 18 percent among Republicans and 65 – 28 percent among independent voters. Black voters support a bailout 57 – 36 percent, with white voters opposed 63 – 26 percent.

Once the Nation’s fourth-largest city, Detroit’s population peaked in the 1950s at more than 1.8 million. The city has lost more than 1 million residents in a gradual decline that accelerated most rapidly from 2000 to 2010, eroding its tax base and leaving behind a sprawling and expensive infrastructure to maintain. Detroit’s current population hovers slightly above 700,000.

Unrelated footnote: The Quinnipiac poll also reveals that racial demographics invert respondents’ opinions about “Stand Your Ground” laws. Whites favor “Stand Your Ground” protections for would-be crime victims by a 57 percent to 37 percent margin. Blacks, on the other hand, oppose such laws by exactly the same margin.

Stave Off Hackers With Passphrases

Vehement capitalist blogger Lew Rockwell has a tip for people concerned about the security of the passwords they use to access their protected information online: ditch passwords altogether in favor of passphrases.

What’s a passphrase? A “password” composed of words and symbols that, taken together, form a phrase that you’ll remember – but that can take a heck of a long time for hackers to crack.

An online security company, Silent Circle, has a website that, while soliciting subscriptions for its services, nevertheless allows you to test the relative security of any password or passphrase you create without having to buy anything.

A caution, if you do want to test the strength of a made-up password on the Silent Circle site: by all means, don’t type in a password that protects any of your current accounts. Make up one you have no intention of using, just to suss out what makes passphrases easier or harder to crack – and then get off the website and create a different, “real” passphrase that employs the same security-tightening measures.

Also, Rockwell points out that this sort of passphrase protection isn’t likely to guard against the spying eyes of the NSA or other American data surveillance programs (both known and unknown). Rather, use it to protect your information from conventional hackers. If you want to improve your chances of dodging the NSA – at least so far as email is concerned – consider email hosts that are based outside the U.S. and don’t have servers tied into the NSA dragnet.

“Bottom Line,” writes Rockwell: “Consider an offshore email, but definitely make your passwords longer by using a passphrase rather than a shorter but ‘harder’ password. Most sites will allow you to enter very long passphrases. Think of the minor investment in time versus the risk of identity theft, account takeover, and the extra time and resources for the government to snoop on you.”

 

Rangel: Tea Party The Same ‘White Crackers’ We Fought In The 1960s

Add Representative Charlie Rangel to the brood of race-baiters in the Congressional Black Caucus trying their damnedest to establish an imaginary link between Tea Party conservatism and the racism of the losers (many of them Southern Democrats) who persecuted blacks and their allies during America’s civil rights era.

Talking to The Daily Beast, Rangel (D-N.Y.) followed the precedent set by fellow CBC lumen Sheila Jackson Lee in 2010, freely using the “white crackers” epithet in an endeavor to not-so-constructively reopen the hateful wounds of racism that men like Martin Luther King Jr. sacrificed their lives to heal.

Admitting, at least, that the Tea Party strain of Constitutional activism is a threat to Democrats, Rangel said:

It is the same group we faced in the South with those white crackers and the dogs and the police. They didn’t care about how they looked. It was just fierce indifference to human life that caused America to say enough is enough. ‘I don’t want to see it and I am not a part of it.’ What the hell! If you have to bomb little kids and send dogs out against human beings, give me a break.

What Rangel’s reverie on the cruelties of dead Southern Democrats has to do with the Tea Party is anyone’s guess. He rests his case on “It is the same group” before falling into an emotional commentary on worthless people.

Are we to judge our elected leaders by the content of their character?

Imagine King deploying a term like “white crackers” to interject race, as a divisive ad hominem wedge, into an argument that otherwise wouldn’t involve race at all. Tall order, huh?

Rangel isn’t carrying the flag of American racial equality that King hoisted; he’s burning it.

Watch: Acting IRS Commissioner Says He Doesn’t Want To Switch To An Obamacare Health Plan

Acting Internal Revenue Service Commissioner Daniel Werfel briefed the House Ways and Means Committee Thursday on the agency’s role in implementing and enforcing participation in Obamacare, which is set to start rolling out Oct. 1.

The temporary Obama appointee found it difficult to get through the session without staring down some hard questions from Republicans already opposed to the law. But, to his credit, Werfel allowed himself an extraordinary measure of candor when committee member Rep. Sam Johnson (R-Texas) asked him this:

Mr. Werfel, last week your employees who are a member of the National Treasury Employee’s Union sent a form letter for union members to send in to ask they be exempt from the exchanges. Why are your employees trying to exempt themselves from the very law that you’re tasked to enforce?

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8jmy1eSwbP0&w=420&h=315]
 
For those who don’t watch the video, the upshot is Werfel telling Johnson: “I would prefer to stay with the current policy that I’m pleased with rather than go through a change if I don’t need to go through that change.”

Werfel’s response was astonishing for its honesty. He did attempt to justify the exempting of Federal employees by explaining that, with their comfortable benefit package, they aren’t ideal candidates for what Obamacare is selling. But that only serves to illustrate the chasm that separates the quality and cost of currently available health coverage from the government-subsidized, wealth-redistributing plans mandated by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

In a related note, Georgia’s Insurance Commissioner made an emergency request on Wednesday to postpone the start of Obamacare health exchanges in the State, as leaders try to figure out how to reconfigure new health plans under the program that won’t jack rates by 198 percent.

City Ponders Eminent Domain To Justify Mass Buy Of Underwater Home Mortgages

In a bizarre interpretation of State eminent domain law, a California Bay-Area city is considering the power of eminent domain to rescue more than 600 homeowners from delinquent mortgages.

The city would accomplish this new brand of government-subsidized housing by seizing the properties from secondary lenders, many of whom have cheaply bought off the underwater mortgages from major banks resigned to offload the original homeowners’ loans at a loss. The city would then pay the secondary lenders “a fair market value” and resell the homes back to their original occupants at current market prices, which in 2013 are far below the homes’ market values at the time of their pre-housing-bubble financing and construction.

Among the many things that aren’t clear is whether the “fair market value” the city intends to pay the lenders directly corresponds to the current market price the city would charge (with interest, no doubt) the delinquent occupants to remain in their homes.

If the plan is successful, Richmond, a city long controlled by a succession of Democratic mayors and council members, would become the first municipality in the United States to use the power of eminent domain in such fashion. But other cities are expressing interest in the idea.

Nearly half of Richmond’s home mortgages are underwater. Many of the houses are now valued at less than half what their owners, who financed their homes at the height of California’s easy-lending housing craze, are having to pay.

The eminent domain move has infuriated banks and secondary lenders, with many industry advocates warning that no bank on Earth would re-enter the housing market in a city with leaders willing to pull the trigger and force lenders to take a financial hit on properties whose owners stopped paying.