New Leaked Graphic Reveals Upstream — Big Daddy To PRISM’s Big Brother

If the National Security Agency’s (NSA) PRISM program is Big Brother to American (and global) computer users, then a program revealed Wednesday in The Washington Post is the surveillance state’s Big Daddy.

Meet “Upstream.”

upstream-promo-606 CROPPED

Upstream became public knowledge with the release of a single slide — presumably one leaked to both The Washington Post and the Guardian by Edward Snowden — that appeared on The Post’s website Wednesday atop a story titled “The NSA slide you haven’t seen.”

As it appears, Upstream is a program of undersea fiber-optic cable tapping authorized and carried out by the U.S. government.

From Wednesday’s story:

The slide also shows a crude map of the undersea cable network that carries data from either side of North America and onto the rest of the world. As a story in Sunday’s Post made clear, these undersea cables are essential to worldwide data flows – and to the surveillance capabilities of the U.S. government and its allies.

…Both slides [the Guardian had previously published a separate slide that reveals some, but not all, of the same information] have circles attached to arrows suggesting possible collection points, but they cover areas too broad to discern where NSA accesses fiber-optic cable networks. The slides also list code names under the Upstream program.

If PRISM is intended to siphon off information about computer users’ activities by deploying surveillance at the host servers where all that information is being passed back and forth, Upstream can be thought of as the bottleneck-hijacking of the major 12-lane highways on which that information has to travel. What information it’s collecting is, of course, not known. But there’s no limit to what information it could be collecting.

Programmatically, Upstream is just a name on a slide — just as PRISM is. Leaving aside the empowered few in the loop of illegal government surveillance, there’s no telling whether the public holds enough information to conjure an accurate mental picture of the scope of these programs or a true understanding of how they overlap and intersect. These names are just shorthand to describe the things that outrage us. But at this point, outrage is a de rigueur state of mind for thinking Americans.

See more slides from the Snowden leak here.

Illinois Lawmaker Welcomes Police State As Palliative To Murder In ‘Gun Free’ Chicago

An Illinois State Representative held a press conference at the State Capitol Tuesday calling on the governor muster the National Guard to quell inner city violence.

“I am requesting with this press conference that Governor Patrick Quinn order the Illinois National Guard [and] the Illinois State Police come to Chicago and work with our mayor Rahm Emanuel to provide safety for the children, especially,” said Rep. Monique Davis, a Democrat, at the press conference.

Using similar logic, Governor Quinn had attempted, on the same day, to legislate guns out of more people’s hands through a veto effort that would have gutted a State law freeing Illinois residents to apply for concealed carry licenses – but the State Legislature overruled him. He had not responded to Davis’ unlikely request as of late Wednesday.

More than 100 people have been shot in Chicago since July 1, with 12 murders occurring over the July 4th holiday period. Last year, more than 500 people were murdered – a Chicago record.

Davis oddly compared Chicago’s epidemic of largely black-on-black “gun” violence to genocide in remarks to the Chicago Sun Times.

U.S. Abortion Laws Liberal Compared With (Liberal) Europe

With a bill before Congress that aims to establish a 22-week cutoff for abortion procedures in the U.S. – as well as a high-profile debate in Texas over similar legislation – the public discussion over late term abortion limits has escalated into extremism, with passions on both sides fueling hyperbolic language.

But a survey of abortion laws in other Western countries reveals that, even if Congress were to make abortions beyond 22 weeks illegal, the U.S. would still be one of the developed world’s most abortion-friendly Nations.

Canada has no law limiting when an expectant mother can end a pregnancy, and both the U.K. and the Netherlands cut off abortions after 24 weeks. But the rest of the Western world limits abortions with far greater severity. Liberal bastions like Sweden forbid abortion after 18 weeks; in Germany and France, the limit is set at 12 weeks.

Here’s a look at where the U.S. would stand among Western Nations if it limits abortion to 22 weeks:


Source: Phillip B. Levine, “Sex and Consequences: Abortion, Public Policy, and the Economics of Fertility” (Princeton University Press, 2007)

H/T: Weekly Standard

Obama’s Utopian Hypocrisy: The Developing World Needs Coal – But In The U.S., It’s Evil

President Barack Obama knows that the African energy initiatives he announced in a June 30 speech in Cape Town, South Africa, will rely heavily on developing nations named in the ambitious program using coal as a primary supplier for any expansion of the sub-Saharan region’s energy infrastructure.

In fact, with rich coal resources and plans to construct new coal-fired power plants, coal is certain to be the centerpiece of any energy-reliant effort at modernizing Africa. More than 1 billion people live in the region, but they’re presently using about as much energy as Canada’s sparse population of 34 million.

Early morning smog hangs over Cape Town, South Africa. Credit: Open Knowledge

But Obama’s vilification of coal in his Georgetown University speech last month is wholly absent from the $7 billion U.S.-backed plan he’s crafted for Africa. He knows Africa will develop with Evil, Polluting, Regressive Coal. There is no economic incentive for Africa to buy “green” energy from the Solyndras of the world. Come to think of it, there’s no incentive in the U.S., either.

No matter how idealistic the President may be about curbing greenhouse gases; no matter how condescending toward those who wonder whether mankind understands the Earth’s age-old atmospheric mysteries as well as he, Obama knows that no amount of coal-killing regulation in the U.S. is going to make one whit of difference in altering the net effect of burning coal to generate electricity worldwide.

Writing for National Review, Charles Krauthammer devastates Obama’s duplicitous take on climate change:

The U.S. has already radically cut CO2 emissions — more than any country on earth since 2006, according to the International Energy Agency…

And yet, at the same time, global emissions have gone up. That’s because — surprise! — we don’t control the energy use of the other 96 percent of humankind.

…This massive self-sacrifice might be worthwhile if it did actually stop global warming and save the planet. What makes the whole idea nuts is that it won’t. This massive self-inflicted economic wound will have no effect on climate change.

… We can kill U.S. coal and devastate coal country all we want, but the industrializing third world will more than make up for it. The net effect of the Obama plan will simply be dismantling the U.S. coal industry for shipping abroad.

To think we will get these countries to cooperate is sheer fantasy. We’ve been negotiating climate treaties for 20 years and gotten exactly nowhere. China, India, and the other rising and modernizing countries point out that the West had a 150-year industrial head start that made it rich. They are still poor. And now, just as they are beginning to get rich, we’re telling them to stop dead in their tracks?

Fat chance.

Indeed, in the 10 years between 2002 and 2012, the U.S. could have reduced its carbon emissions to nothing, and it wouldn’t have made a difference globally — the net output of carbon generated by the rest of the world over the same period would still have amounted to a net increase. Asia is the world’s emerging polluter, and our President’s answer is to punish Americans through onerous regulations that aim, in practice, to destroy the coal industry (and several State economies along with it), while driving up energy costs for everyone living and doing business in the U.S. — while the rest of the world develops apace.

Krauthammer explains this sort of starry-eyed liberalism represents the very mode of thinking Obama thinks he’s transcending when he refers to global warming’s skeptics as members of the “flat earth society” peanut gallery:

It’s flat-earthers like Obama who cite perennial phenomena such as droughts as cosmic retribution for environmental sinfulness…For a president to propose this with such aggressive certainty is incomprehensible. It is the starkest of examples of belief that is impervious to evidence. And the word for that is faith, not science.

More Warrantless Federal Surveillance: CFPB Collects, Shares Americans’ Credit Card Data

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) isn’t yet 3 years old, but it’s already every bit as entrenched as the National Security Agency (NSA) in snooping through the personal data of millions of unwitting Americans — average people who aren’t suspected of breaking any laws and who have no idea just how far the agency’s so-called “protections” could compromise their privacy.

That’s the report from nonprofit accountability group Judicial Watch (JW), which analyzed a trove of records it compelled the CFPB to hand over through a Freedom of Information Act demand filed in April.

What JW found may be more unsettling than anything the NSA’s been accused of doing.

Why? Because it reveals the CFPB has hoarded financial information from 5 million Americans’ credit and debit card transaction histories, and it has authorized private contractors to share the data across government agencies.

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

In other words, not only does the CFPB have all the “track 1” and “track 2” data held in the magnetic strip of your credit and debit cards — information like your name, account number, expiration date and service code — it knows when and how you use your cards and what you use them to buy. Worse, the agency paid private contractors to collect all that information in the first place — and then hold onto it so other unnamed government agencies could acquire it, without a warrant and without even relying on a patronizing justification that involves “national security” or some such.

How, then, did the CFPB qualify its ambitious money-spying program? Like this:

THE CFPB seeks to acquire and maintain a nationally representative panel of credit information on consumers for use in a wide range of policy research projects.

The panel [i.e., guinea pigs] shall include 5 million consumers, and joint borrowers, co-signers, and authorized users. The initial panel shall contain 10 years of historical data on a quarterly basis. The initial sample shall be drawn from current records and historical data appended for that sample as well as additional samples during the intervening years to make the combines sample representative at each point in time.

Protection and research: Two things the Federal government uses to aggrandize power and enlarge its intrusion into the private sector.

What’s perplexing about this broad surveillance of information — information that, for most Americans, ranks among their most sensitive and personal – is that there’s no mention (either by the CFPB itself or Judicial Watch) of getting a court order authorizing any of this. U.S. News and World Report published a response in which a CFPB spokesman argued that the agency has had this kind of power ever since it was created under the Dodd-Frank Act of 2010.

That spokesman also declared that no one’s collecting data about actual purchases. But if that’s the case, then what other data is worth collecting? And how would it be quarantined from all the other “safe” data that’s being gathered in real time? And who is anybody trusting do carry out all of this? Oh, private contractors.

“The Obama administration’s warrantless collection of the private financial information of millions of Americans is mind-blowing,” said JW President Tom Fitton in a press release posted to the group’s website. “Is there anything that this administration thinks it can’t do? These documents show that the Consumer Financial Protection Board is an out-of-control government agency that threatens the fundamental privacy and financial security of Americans. This is every bit as serious as the controversy over the NSA’s activities.”

House Attacks White House Over Delaying Obamacare For Businesses – But Not People

GOP leaders in the House of Representatives are calling on President Barack Obama to grant the American people the same one-year reprieve from mandatory state-managed health care that the White House recently announced it would be granting to businesses.

House Republican Leader Eric Cantor said he “never thought I’d see the day when the White House; the president, came down on the side of big business but left the American people out in the cold as far as this health care mandate is concerned.”

Other Republicans predicted the business-only delay would shift the cost of Obamacare’s first year of subsidized health care from companies to individuals.

House speaker John Boehner and Republican colleagues wrote Obama, pressing him to let individuals in on delaying the much-dreaded implementation of a wealth-redistributing health care law that critics say is too byzantine to ever succeed.

“We agree with you that the burden was overwhelming for employers, but we also believe American families need the same relief,” the GOP coalition remarked.

Illinois Now A Concealed Carry State As Legislature Overrides Governor’s Veto

The Illinois House of Representatives has blocked Democratic Governor Pat Quinn’s attempt at effectively vetoing a bill providing for the issuing of concealed carry permits, making the State the last in the U.S. to allow its residents to concealed carry a loaded firearm.

The override came on the last day of a court-mandated timeline to change the law, following a Federal appeals court’s earlier ruling that found the State’s longstanding ban on concealed carry unConstitutional.

Quinn had sought to eviscerate the bill by means of an amendatory veto process, but was roundly defeated Tuesday on a vote in the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives. Even fellow Democrats accused the Governor of pandering to his liberal voter base in defiance of a court order.

“I think he needs to learn how to count,” Senator Mike Jacobs, a Democrat, told the Chicago Tribune. “Anyone who doesn’t understand that we’re going to run this bill over his objections doesn’t understand government.”

The 2nd Amendment victory still leaves Illinois far from leading the States in upholding citizens’ rights to keep and bear arms. The law requires motorists to immediately inform police at a traffic stop if they’re carrying a concealed weapon, and the $150 concealed carry permits will have to be renewed every five years. There’s no reciprocity provision for visitors from other concealed carry States.

But the override is, according to 2nd Amendment blog The Truth About Guns, “a huge step forward, particularly for the downstate population who’s chafed under the iron-fisted control of Chicago for decades.”

Obama Rides For Amnesty; Jim Carrey’s (Sorta) Sorry; Fall In Line For Farm Bill; House GOP To Take On IRS; Smelling For Cancer – Tuesday Morning News Roundup 7-9-2013

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

  • President Barack Obama is heading out on the road to promote the Senate’s immigration rewrite bill, amid increasingly effective opposition from the Republican base, a reversal of his previously under-the-radar tactics, which helped push the far-reaching rewrite through the Senate. Source: Daily Caller… 
  • Actor Jim Carrey sent out a volley of vicious tweets against gun owners March 24. He released his “Cold Dead Hand” video the following day, which accused the late Heston of playing a role in recent gun-related deaths. Now he’s tweeting apologies. Source: Breitbart… 
  • In a tense, closed-door meeting Monday, House majority leader Eric Cantor (R – Va.) scolded several Republican committee chairmen for voting against the farm bill that failed to pass the House last month, coolly reminding them that the leadership is much more likely to usher their bills to the floor if they stick with him on votes. Source: National Review… 
  • Speaking of Cantor: He’s aiming for House floor votes before the August recess on a slew of bills in response to the IRS controversies – including a bill that would “allow” Americans to record conversations with Federal law enforcement officials and another bill blocking the IRS from involvement in enforcing Obamacare. Source: POLITICO… 
  • British researchers have devised a test that can detect bladder cancer from certain odors in the urine. In its testing phase, the method correctly assigned 100 percent of cancer patients. Source: France 24… 

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

‘He’s Perfectly Innocent And He Knows His Rights’: A Fourth Of July Police Video

There are a lot viral videos of test-case encounters with police — the kind in which a law-abiding person, tired of the way in which police usurp the Bill of Rights, decides to open carry a firearm or to refuse to give consent to a vehicle search. But this video, recorded July 4 by a 21-year-old Tennessee student stopping at a DUI checkpoint, is one of the most illustrative.

That’s because the driver, Chris Kalbaugh, kept his demeanor robotically neutral, even as the officer attempted to escalate the situation. By doing so, he allowed the officer’s behavior — and judgment — to speak for itself.


The payoff comes at 5:10, when another officer says simply, “He’s perfectly innocent and he knows his rights. He knows what the Constitution says.” Clearly, the police at this checkpoint know what the Constitution says, too, and are accustomed to relying on the ignorance of the vast majority of the people whom they stop. They never check Kalbaugh for DUI (even though this was a DUI checkpoint), and they never tell him (so far as the video reveals) whether he’s being detained. The K-9 officer even has to backtrack in qualifying the weak “hit” his drug dog (inevitably) got while sniffing the car — a hit that precipitated a “probable cause” search of the entire vehicle.

If this can happen to a citizen who’s doing no more and no less than exactly what the law allows, imagine what happens to those who — heaven forbid — have unpaid parking tickets or obliviously tote a couple of prescription pills in an unmarked bottle left in the center console by an absentminded spouse?

A Temp Service Is America’s 2nd-Biggest Employer

It’s a great time to be a temporary or part-time employee in America. But it’s a terrible time to have a full-time job or a job that tasks you with making anything — except, maybe, burgers and tacos.

That’s one takeaway from last week’s June jobs report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, which revealed that Kelly Services, an international temporary staffing agency based in Michigan, is the Nation’s second-largest employer behind a company well known for its heavy dependence on part-time employees: Wal-Mart.

Between temp firms like Kelly and volume retail/service companies like Wal-Mart, McDonald’s, Kroger and Target, about 85 percent of the jobs held by Americans are either temporary assignments or low-wage, part-time positions. The Administration of President Barack Obama hailed the jobs report as a signifier of successful White House economic policy, ignoring the fact that the net gain in jobs for the month of June represented a massive shift in the American labor force from full-time jobs (which fell dramatically) to part-time work.

Writing for The Washington Examiner, Ashe Schow notes the June report isn’t a mere workforce aberration brought on by a glut of teenagers looking for summer work:

Temp jobs made up about 10 percent of the jobs lost during the Great Recession, but now make up a tenth of the jobs in the United States. In fact, nearly one-fifth of all jobs gained since the recession ended have been temporary.

It’s a sad state of affairs for our country. While part-time and temp jobs reached highs last month, full-time jobs decreased by another 240,000. The recovery, or lack thereof, is being fueled by a shift from full-time to part-time work.

Further buttressing the mounting evidence that the Obama-led “recovery” has only accelerated a gradual U.S. trend away from actually making tangible goods (i.e., heavy manufacturing) and toward an service-oriented marketplace where the value of everything’s ephemeral, The New York Times created an infographic last year showing that service industries make up nine of the top 10 biggest American employers in the 21st century, compared with the 1960s, when seven of the top 10 were manufacturers like GM, Ford, U.S. Steel and General Electric.

Is it any coincidence that one-third of Americans — a number greater than the entire private sector workforce population in the United States — is now on food stamps?

UPDATE: California Cops Who Shot Dog Pulled From Street Duty

Three Hawthorne, Calif. police officers have been taken off patrol duty after the department received a deluge of threats from outraged Americans who watched a video of at least one officer shoot and kill a Rottweiler belonging to a man whom they were arresting – for videotaping them – last week.

Another spectator’s video of the shooting went viral, amassing nearly 900,000 views on Youtube (so far), and the officers involved in the shooting began receiving death threats and angry emails, phone calls and Facebook postings.

Department spokesperson Lt. Scott Swain said the decision to take the cops off the street wasn’t meant as a disciplinary measure – rather, he said, it’s for the officers’ own safety.

“There’s been death threats,” Swain told Daily Breeze. “You’d like to believe that maybe some of the people are just venting, but then you’ve got to be realistic – there are crazy people out there.”

The department’s website was even hit with a DDoS (distributed denial of service) attack credited to Anonymous, the computer hacking activist collective, which had threatened exactly such an action after calling the cops’ behavior “unacceptable.”

Read more about the shooting, and watch the (upsetting) video in its entirety, here.

Morsi’s Intifada; Government Spies; Widening IRS Probe; Gene Sequenced Babies; Snowden – He’s Everywhere! — Monday Morning News Roundup 7-8-2013

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

  • Egypt’s Islamists promised to keep up the fight to restore Mohammed Morsi to power and stage an “intifada”, after protests failed to muster the strength to challenge the country’s military leaders. Source: The Telegraph… 
  • Offices of a Dallas law firm representing Aurelia Fedenisn, a State Department investigator-turned whistle-blower, were broken into last weekend. Burglars stole three computers and broke into the firm’s file cabinets, but didn’t touch silver bars, video equipment and other valuables. Source: Foreign Policy… 
  • Representative Mike Kelly (R-Pa.) tells Breitbart that the next stages of the Internal Revenue Service scandal will likely focus on the tax agency’s alleged abuse of power in areas like politically motivated audits and leaking of personal information. Source: Breitbart… 
  • The first in vitro fertilization baby to be screened using a procedure that can read every letter of the human genome has been born in the United States. Source: The Guardian… 
  • The German foreign intelligence service knew more about the activities of the National Security Agency in Germany than previously known. “They’re in bed together,” Edward Snowden claims in an interview in SPIEGEL. The whistle-blower also lodges fresh allegations against the British. Source: SPIEGEL…

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

Obamacare Effect On Jobs: Part-Time Outgains Full-Time As Businesses Scale Back

The unemployment rate in the United States for the month of June dallied at 7.6 percent, a number attended by the reported addition of 360,000 new part-time jobs — a record high. Such a big jump was hailed at the White House as a sign that the economy continues to benefit from the 2009 American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA).

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

Thank Obamacare, which mandates businesses employing more the 50 people to contribute toward health coverage for anyone who’s been hired to work more than 30 hours per week — or face paying per-employee penalties to the government (via the Internal Revenue Service).

Alan Kreuger, who chairs President Barack Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers, spun the numbers to persuade the media the President was a visionary whose grand plan to get the economy back on track was destined to succeed.

“In the four years since the recession ended in June 2009, the economy has added 5.3 million jobs, thanks to the resilience of the American people and policies like the Recovery Act, which helped bring the recession to an end and put us on the path to recovery,” said Kreuger, who characterized the spectacular turnaround as “further confirmation that the U.S. economy is continuing to recover from the worst downturn since the Great Depression.”

State Department: Kerry Worked ‘Nonstop’ During Egypt Crisis; Photo Evidence: Kerry Was Chillin’ On A Boat In Nantucket

The U.S. State Department lied to the American people last week when a spokesperson lionized Secretary of State John Kerry for allegedly sweating bullets as he and President Barack Obama’s National Security Council monitored the unfolding Egyptian regime change in real time.

Jen Psaki with the State Department issued a statement late Wednesday, responding to critics who’d noticed Kerry’s absence from photos of White House meetings where Administration officials were strategizing an American response to the military ouster of Mohammed Morsi, Egypt’s Mulim Brotherhood President. The statement was meant to deflect anecdotal reports that Kerry had instead been spotted vacationing on his yacht, the Isabel:

Since his plane touched down in Washington at 4 a.m., Secretary Kerry was working all day and on the phone dealing with the crisis in Egypt.

He participated in the White House meeting with the president by secure phone and was and is in non-stop contact with foreign leaders, and his senior team in Washington and Cairo. Any report or tweet that he was on a boat is completely inaccurate.

The only thing completely inaccurate was the State Department’s deception. Kerry was aboard his Isabel as the situation in Egypt deteriorated, and he took the yacht out for a spin again on Friday, even as the State Department’s Psaki issued her version of a mea culpa:

While he was briefly on his boat on Wednesday, Secretary Kerry worked around the clock all day including participating in the president’s meeting with his national security council.

Regardless of whether the Secretary of State was working while he was playing (or simply playing), the lack of communication among members of the President’s cabinet, along with the Administration’s “lie first” approach to communicating with Americans, represents only its most recent attempt to conceal its own disunity.

As Breitbart’s Ben Shapiro observed: “[I]t’s clear that confusion reigns at the highest levels…President Obama isn’t even leading from behind at this point, simply because he can’t tell which direction is behind.”

George W. Bush Set To Back Immigration Reform

As the House of Representatives prepares an alternative to the omnibus immigration reform billed that cleared the Senate last week, former President George W. Bush will push next week in favor of immigration reform in a speech and panel discussion to be held at his new Presidential library in Dallas.

The event, which will feature 20 (legal) immigrants receiving a grant of citizenship at a naturalization ceremony, will center on the ongoing immigration debate in the U.S., with a panel discussion called “What Immigrants Contribute” to follow Bush’s remarks.

From the Dallas Morning News:

It’s unclear whether the ex-president will stick to generalities during his remarks at the citizenship ceremony, or elevate the conversation with details about the super-sized immigration bill now being debated in Congress.

The George. W. Bush Institute has thrown some weight behind measures to overhaul immigration policies and linked it to its “4% Growth Project,” which proposes such growth would create 10 million additional jobs during the next decade with no rise in government spending. The event will include panels discussing immigration and economic growth, why naturalization matters and “how immigrants serve America.”

Bush attempted – and failed – to coax an immigration bill out of Congress during his second term, after spending most of his first term placing a planned immigration reform effort on the backburner following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

Fewer Than Half Of Americans Have Full Time Jobs

The Bureau of Labor Statistics June jobs report that came out Friday predictably polarized liberals, who praised the net gain of 195,000 jobs, and conservatives, who pointed out that most of them were part-time and represented businesses’ fear of Obamacare.

But there’s one negative stat in the report that can’t be spun: only 47 percent of employment-age American are working at full-time jobs. The rest? They’re all either working part time, or they’re not working at all.

The U.S. has an employment-eligible population of 245 million. Of that number, 144 million are working – and of that number, only 116 million hold down full-time jobs. That number is accelerating downward, too, as businesses swap full-time positions for part-time staffing that allows them to escape the Obamacare rule that forces employers to subsidize health care for all employees who work more than 30 hours per week.

Even though the Obama Administration, aware that it’s created an economy-killing boondoggle, announced earlier this week that the employer-subsidy mandate would be postponed until 2015, that announcement came after the June statistics had already been compiled.

Euro Zone Ditching U.S. Data; SCOTUS’ Future; Snowden Snowbound; Egypt’s Military Tightrope; Organs Off The Shelf — Friday Morning News Roundup 7-5-2013

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

  • European businesses are likely to abandon the services of American Internet providers because of the National Security Agency surveillance scandal, the European commission has warned. Source: The Guardian… 
  • In a Reuters interview, 80-year-old Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg vowed to resist any pressure to retire that might come from liberals who want to ensure that Democratic President Barack Obama can pick her successor before the November 2016 presidential election. Source: Reuters… 
  • Icelandic lawmakers have introduced a proposal in Parliament that would grant immediate citizenship to NSA leaker Edward Snowden. Source: Fox News… 
  • In a statement posted on its Facebook page Friday, Egypt’s armed forces warned against “falling into an endless circle of revenge,” saying it was keen to avoid any extraordinary or arbitrary measures against any faction or political movement. The military is calling for reconciliations ahead of planned rallies by supporters of ousted president Mohammed Morsi. Source: Al Arabiya… 
  • A human liver has been grown inside a mouse, giving hope that patients could receive new organs created from their own skin cells within a decade. The breakthrough would eradicate donor waiting lists and the risk of the body rejecting a replacement organ. Source: Metro UK… 

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

Clapper’s NSA Claptrap: ‘Simply Didn’t Think Of’ Patriot Act When I Lied To Congress

James Clapper, director of the National Intelligence Program, apologized this week for lying to Congress in testimony he gave in March at a hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee.

That was before Edward Snowden, before the Internal Revenue Service scandal had reached its full burn, before the Justice Department’s Associated Press phone surveillance scandal, before PRISM. The public didn’t even have one eye open when Clapper testified three months ago.

But Clapper has found himself revising his testimony in the court of public opinion ever since the bottomless volcano of spy scandals started belching, terrorizing Americans who’d remained peacefully unaware they’d been living in the Federal government’s dangerous surveillance shadow.

He pulled a Bill Clinton in June, telling NBC’s Andrea Mitchell his earlier testimony represented “what I thought was the most truthful, or least untruthful, manner” of answering a direct question from Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) on whether the National Security Agency (NSA) engaged in a data collection dragnet that sweeps information on millions of Americans.

But this week, Clapper went from “least untruthful” to “I’m sorry.” He wrote Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and posted the letter’s contents on the National Intelligence website Tuesday, apologizing for making “clearly erroneous” statements in denying Congress any informed oversight of the NSA’s immensely broad citizen spying program. He justified the willed omission (i.e., lie) by saying he “simply didn’t think of Section 215 of the Patriot Act,” which enables expanded government spying through use of the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

I have thought long and hard to re-create what went through my mind at the time. In light of Seantor Wyden’s reference to “dossiers” and faced with the challenge of trying to give an unclassified answer about our intelligence collection activities, many of which are classified, I simply didn’t think of Section 215 of the Patriot Act. Instead, my answer addressed collection of the content of communications. I focused in particular of Section 702 of FISA, because we had just been through a year-long campaign to seek reauthorization of this provision and had had many classified discussions about it, including with Senator Wyden. That is why I added a comment about “inadvertent” collection of U.S. person information, because that is what happens under Section 702 even though it is targeted at foreigners.

That said, I realized later that Senator Wyden was asking about Section 215 metadata collection, rather than content collection. Thus, my response was clearly erroneous — for which I apologize.

Take a look at the relevant portion of Clapper’s testimony below, which begins 22 seconds into the video:


Remember, Clapper had three months to figure out a way to backtrack, and this letter is what he came up with. Feinstein’s only response to the letter was to say Clapper’s statement “speaks for itself.”

And, since Clapper brought it up, metadata collection is ostensibly too benign, too impersonal, too incapable of revealing to the government any inkling of the intimate aspects of an individual’s life. If you believe his explanation, it was simply too inconsequential a component of the NSA’s surveillance power (both technical and legal) for Clapper to call to mind under direct questioning. In short, metadata can’t tell you much, he’s arguing.

Oh yeah? See this. And this.

Republican Defectors: This ‘Lesser Of Two Evils’ Bit Is Getting Old

Fiscal and/or social conservatives have gotten more and more fed up with moderate Republican political candidates over the years, a fact that galvanized jaded conservative voters in the mid-2000s who came together to form the disparate, but united, Tea Party movement — a movement that hasn’t shown signs of losing momentum.

Now, a study of disaffected conservatives who leave the GOP reveals a corresponding disgust among voters who’ve favored Republican candidates on the reasoning that those politicians may not reflect true conservative values, but at least they’re better than the unrepentant liberals whom they aim to defeat.

This so-called “lesser of two evils” argument has left conservatives voting for the John McCains, Mark Rubios, Rick Santorums and Chris Christies of the world, only to sit through the GOP winners’ elected terms bemoaning that politicians are all the same and that mainstream Republicans are RINOs (Republicans In Name Only).

Market research outfit Frontier Lab examined the attitudes of GOP voters who’ve had enough and identified a number of reasons why they decided to check out. Chief among those was the fatigue of having to choose from between the “two evils” of traditional two-party politics, with some voters striking out in support of independent candidates whose platforms more closely reflected their own conservative views.

In addition, the study found many voters had grown frustrated with what they perceive as a lack of conservative leadership within the Republican Party’s upper echelon, even though many Republican candidates at the local level struggle to reconcile their own conservatism with the national party’s increasingly moderate platform — a platform laid down by the GOP’s centralized, rarefied national politicians, with plenty of help from lobbyists and advisers.

Interestingly, the Tea Party’s grass-roots appeal has filled a void many jaded former Republicans had found lacking, the study notes.

“Beyond losing hope and fatigue with the ‘lesser of two evils’ argument,” the report states, “former Republicans often either rejected the Republican community or found camaraderie in a new one prior to disaffiliating. We saw the Tea Party as instrumental in providing a new sense of community, but also conservative talk radio and independent candidates as other avenues to community outside of the Republican label. In this sense alternative conservative or independent communities play a much larger role than education or political action, but instead supplant and weaken ties to the Republican label.”

View Frontier Lab’s “Switching Behavior” study here.

Lois Lerner Will Testify About IRS Scandal — If She’s Granted Immunity

Lois Lerner, the former director of the Internal Revenue Service’s division responsible for quelling Tea Party groups while fast-tracking liberal nonprofits during President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign, told a House oversight panel this in May:

I have not done anything wrong, I have not broken any laws, I have not violated any IRS rules or regulations and I have not provided false information to this or any other congressional committee. While I would very much like to answer the committee’s questions today, I have been advised by my counsel to assert my constitutional right not to testify or answer questions related to the subject manner of this hearing.

Then she attempted to invoke her 5th Amendment right not to testify against herself.

But now Lerner’s changed her mind, offering to testify about the IRS discrimination scandal — if she’s guaranteed immunity from prosecution. (Hey, no problem — she didn’t do anything wrong, remember?)

On Wednesday, Lerner’s attorney said she would testify before the House oversight committee, telling POLITICO: “They can obtain her testimony tomorrow by doing it the easy way … immunity. That’s the way to resolve all of this.”

The House oversight panel held a bipartisan vote last week, determining that Lerner indeed waived her 5th Amendment protection when, at her hearing in May, she prefaced her “silence” against self-incrimination by first telling the panel she was innocent of any wrongdoing. Republicans pounced, noting that Lerner attempted to have her legal cake and eat it, too, by rewriting the rules on how much a witness can say before clamming up under Constitutional protection.

Under the committee’s assertion that she waived her 5th Amendment rights, Lerner could be held in contempt if she refuses to testify at a future, as-yet unscheduled recall appearance.

Obama’s Approval Numbers Plummet (Again)

President Barack Obama’s rapport with the American people continues to slip. A poll released this week by Investors Business Daily (IBD) shows more than half the country now disapproves of the President’s second-term performance.

Only 41 percent of Americans said they approve of Obama when the survey was conducted at the end of June, as the President shrugged off yet another surveillance scandal before dashing off to a lavish tour of Africa. But a 52 percent majority said they disapprove.


The surveillance scandals have hit the President hard.

“A clear majority, 59%, said government surveillance invades innocent Americans’ privacy, vs. 34% who disagreed,” the survey summary reports. “Among independents, the split was 72%-25%. Even 42% of Democrats agreed the surveillance invades privacy. Obama has taken heat from his liberal base over the NSA program and the seizure of phone records of AP reporters and Fox News’ James Rosen. Normally friendly editorial pages have been scathing and have noted Obama’s broken 2008 promise to promote civil liberties.”

Obama has seen a particularly steep drop in support from single women — a key demographic that buoyed both his election campaigns. His approval from single women has fallen 29 percent, from 74.5 percent last November to 52.9 percent in late June.

The IBD survey employs a number of factors in assigning the President’s overall approval rating a number known as the Presidential Leadership Index. In only a single month, Obama’s already-low index rating fell from 48.9 to 43.2 on the 100-point scale. “The 11.7% slide was the worst since Obama took office. For the fourth straight month, the reading stood below 50, signaling disapproval,” the report notes.

Police Chief Tries To Shoot Dog; Shoots Owner Instead; Ignores Victim; Gets Sworn In

A North Carolina woman was hit by a ricocheting bullet meant for her dog, after Winston-Salem police chief in-waiting Barry Rountree got scared of the dog last week and tried to shoot it.

The woman, Tamara Whitt, was shot by Rountree as he was responding to a 911 call alleging a man with a gun was roaming the neighborhood, aiming the weapon at people.

Evidently there was such a man: Rountree. Police said after he and other officers arrived in the area to investigate, Whitt’s dog approached them in a “threatening manner.” Rountree got scared of the dog and tried to shoot it, but the .40 caliber bullet bounced off the pavement and hit Whitt in the leg.

According to Whitt – who described her pet’s behavior throughout the ordeal as “very passive” – Rountree’s reaction to her injury was to walk across the street and have a cell phone conversation, then cross back over to ask her if she was alright.

“He did not come to me. He backed away,” she said. “He walked across the street over there by that car over there and he was on his phone … and I told the SBI [State Bureau of Investigation] he did not come to me.”

Whitt hasn’t had the bullet removed; doctors have told her the procedure would be too dangerous.

At the time of the shooting, Rountree was in line to be sworn in as the new Winston-Salem chief of police. He was placed on administrative leave after the shooting, but has since been cleared of any wrongdoing by Forsyth County District Attorney Jim O’Neill. Rountree was sworn in as chief of police on June 30.

The dog, a boxer named Lebrone, is still alive, but remains in the custody of Forsyth County Animal Control.

Toy Gun March On Washington Draws 2nd Amendment Supporters

While there’s no sign that remnant supporters of the dubious, now-cancelled  July 4th armed march on Washington, D.C. are coalescing near the capitol with loaded weapons, 2nd Amendment supporters did turn out Wednesday to stage a legal demonstration – using toy guns.

From the “Toy Gun March on DC” Facebook page, the event’s mission is to “communicate the importance of 2nd Amendment rights to the citizens of the District of Columbia.”

The Toy Gun March is a gathering of liberty loving people and their families to promote responsible gun ownership, private charity and to bring public perception of gun owners into a better light.

Due to the fact that it is currently illegal to carry a loaded firearm into the District of Columbia, we liberty lovers have decided to tweak the nose of big government and show Obama what a clown he is for trying to restrict our natural rights. Join us as we march on DC fully armed with toy guns!


“We’re trying to make the point that it’s ridiculous for little kids to be getting in trouble for playing with toy guns and being suspended for things like biting a Pop-Tart into the shape of a gun,” organizer Austin Petersen told The Huffington Post. “We’re also trying to send the message that gun owners are responsible” and that many, who identify themselves as libertarians, “aren’t all crazy gun nuts.”

The event, which was conceived and staged by Libertarian Republic, also raised money and toy donations for Toys for Tots.

Wednesday’s demonstration did, ultimately, descend into a gun battle – only, at the end, everyone was soaked in water instead of blood, and the “casualties” picked themselves off the capitol grounds and walked away in peace.