Buffalo Police To Army Vet: Oops, Wrong Apartment… Sorry We Killed Your Dog (Not)

An Army veteran who’d been living at the same Buffalo, N.Y., address for three years got home Monday afternoon to discover that someone had torn down the door, shot up the apartment, ransacked the place and killed his dog, Cindy, who was leashed in the kitchen.

Breaking and entering in broad daylight. Animal cruelty. Adam Arroyo appeared to have been the victim of big-city crime.

But wait — whoever it was had left a piece of paper behind, a note. Not a note, a warrant. It wasn’t robbers after all; this was all police work.

 

Army vet says police killed his dog

 

The guy the cops were looking for evidently lived around the building’s corner. He was being sought on suspicion of dealing crack cocaine. The two apartments are completely separate and have separate entrances. All the cops had to do before indulging their trigger fingers was double-check the clearly marked mailbox.

According to WKBW in Buffalo, Arroyo is an Iraq combat veteran who plans to become a member of the National Guard. He told the ABC affiliate he isn’t a drug user or a drug pusher.

“Never. Never. I don’t do drugs. I’m a United States veteran. I work every day. I’m just trying to live my life… For police to wrongfully come into my house and murder my dog… It wasn’t that they felt threatened. No. They murdered my dog. That was my dog, man. That was my dog. They didn’t have to do that, you know. They didn’t have to do that.”

Arroyo now has to pay to have his pet cremated. The door repair will come out of his own pocket. He’s also had to miss work.

The Buffalo P.D. suit who talks to the media trotted out the same stale, self-justifying nonsense you always seem to hear whenever police unload on dogs that aren’t a threat.

Spokesperson Michael DeGeorge said the police “don’t believe the dog was chained or leashed” at the time they burst through the door — even though that’s how Arroyo left his pet in the morning, and how he found her when he got home.

DeGeorge also said the department’s Internal Affairs division will investigate, but that the police (somehow) believe they got the address right.

Arroyo said he plans to press charges against the city.

Party Affiliation Taints Americans’ Views On Privacy, Civil Liberty

A poll released Monday shows more than half of all Americans think it’s acceptable for the government to secretly track their phone calls, if doing so keeps them safe from terrorism.

The poll, done by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, also shows that nearly half believe it’s also acceptable for the National Security Administration (NSA) to indiscriminately spy on citizens’ online activities using secret dragnets like PRISM — so long as it stands a chance of preventing domestic terrorist attacks.

Most Back NSA
Interestingly, the poll also showed that opinions about the President’s role in orchestrating warrantless spying on American citizens vary among Democrats and Republicans to favor whichever party holds power in the executive branch.

Partisan Shifts

In other words, more Democrats think the NSA’s doing the Lord’s work right now, because a Democrat is in the White House. Back in 2006, when the President was a Republican, Democrats hated NSA surveillance. The reverse, of course, holds true for Republicans, more of whom are now outraged by the PRISM scandal than by any NSA revelations or expansion that occurred during the Presidency of George W. Bush.

Youth apathy over the government’s sophisticated surveillance of the very technologies that young people consume en masse is, perhaps, the poll’s most jarring find. While a greater number of young people (though still fewer than half) take a principled stand in support of privacy than do the other age groups surveyed, they aren’t that interested in following specific news about PRISM, the NSA’s secret data mining of Verizon customers or the draconian Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act.

“As with most news stories, interest is far higher among older Americans than the young: one-in-three (33%) Americans ages 50-and-older are following news about the government tracking phone records very closely,” the poll states. “Among those ages 18-29, just 12% are following very closely, while 56% say they are not following closely at all.”

Taken together, the poll means that more than half of Americans are fine with Verizon’s setting up of a secret, dedicated fiber-optic line — one that runs from New Jersey straight to a military base at Quantico, Va., and allows the government access “to all communications flowing through the carrier’s operations center,” according to The New York Times.

So long as their party’s in control of the White House, Republicans or Democrats mostly view the President as a trustworthy custodian of such extraConstitutional powers.

And if those Americans are under the age of 30, most of them just don’t care.

Eluding Government’s Prying Eyes Isn’t Convenient, But Here Are Some Options

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), a nonprofit advocacy group that battles expanded government surveillance and technological infringements on civil liberties, has compiled a list of operating systems, applications and online services for computers and mobile devices. Many of the products listed aren’t exactly household names — but that’s kind of the point.

The EFF has the list up at prism-break.org — a site intended to steer computer users and owners of mobile devices (in other words, everyone) away from the major online providers whose servers the National Security Administration (NSA) has surreptitiously been monitoring, and toward alternatives that, so far as can be known, haven’t been subjected to any secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA) orders.

To embrace all the alternative applications on the list will strike many as inconvenient. It’s not practical for many people to switch to the open-source GNU/Linux operating system platform from Apple OS or Windows. Similarly, using and understanding the Tor Web browser comes with a bit of a learning curve for those accustomed to Google Chrome or Apple Safari.

And it’s important to remember that, while embracing the listed applications and services will help to disengage you from the direct access the NSA has to servers at Apple, Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Skype, PayPal, AOL and more, it’s not taking you off the communications grid. You’re still using an Internet or cellular service provider, and your device still has a unique identifier that a dedicated techie might be able to decrypt.

But it can make snooping into your online life just a little more inconvenient for the NSA.

Speaking Spanish On The Senate Floor To Urge ‘Commonsense’ Immigration Reform

Senator Tim Kaine (D-Va.) spoke Tuesday for nearly 15 minutes on the Senate floor in Spanish, applauding the Gang of Eight bipartisan coalition that’s pushing for a sweeping set of immigration reforms and supporting the start of the debate process that could see an immigration reform bill move out of the Senate.

Kaine planned the stunt, for which fellow Democratic Virginia Senator Mark Warner called him a “show-off.” In the hours before he took the Senate floor, Kaine had been promoting his speech with bilingual tweets calling for “commonsense” reform to fix “our broken immigration system.”

“Thought it was important to spend a few mins explaining bill in Spanish — a language spoken by almost 40M in US w/a lot at stake in outcome” he tweeted.

The Senate went ahead and voted 82-15 to begin debate on the controversial 1,000-page bill, which President Barack Obama is urging Congress to approve without playing “procedural games.”

The United States has no “official” language, and there’s likewise no official language provision requiring government officials to speak English. The rules of procedure do require that a Senator receive unanimous consent of the full Senate before speaking in another language from the floor, as Kaine himself did.

Rand Paul Threatens To Sue The Feds For Using The NSA To Watch Citizens

Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) is planning a class action suit against the Federal government to end the National Security Administration’s (NSA) broad surveillance of citizens’ phone metadata and computer habits via compulsory, court-ordered secret “agreements” with phone and computer companies.

Speaking on FOX News Sunday, Paul told Chris Wallace that he plans to enlist the Nation’s major telecommunications companies as plaintiffs, as well as millions of Americans angry at the Administration of President Barack Obama for lying about his campaign promise to end the George W. Bush White House’s expansion of big-government secrecy and intrusiveness.

 

“I’m going to be asking all the Internet providers and all of the phone companies: Ask your customers to join me in a class action lawsuit,” said Paul. “If we get 10 million Americans saying we don’t want our phone records looked at, then maybe someone will wake up and something will change in Washington….[It] doesn’t look like a modest invasion of privacy… I have no problem if you have probable cause … but we’re talking about trolling through a billion phone records a day.”

Late last week, Paul also introduced the Fourth Amendment Restoration Act of 2013 before Congress, a piece of legislation that declaring that “the Fourth Amendment shall not be construed to allow any agency of the United States government to search the phone records of Americans without a warrant based on probable cause.”

Although Paul did not go into much detail on TV about the possible lawsuit, the plaintiff class would presumably consist of phone customers whose cellular service is handled by Verizon and other major carriers that the government has been monitoring.

It would likely also include an enormous number of Americans whose online privacy has been violated through PRISM, the NSA’s carte-blanche, secret surveillance program The Guardian exposed on Friday, after a whistle-blower shared classified documents revealing its existence, as well as the scope of its ambition.

‘We Need Whistle-Blowers’

The United States is trying to extradite Edward Snowden, the former CIA assistant-turned-whistle-blower who outed the National Security Agency’s incredible, Orwellian surveillance dragnets of phone and computing data, from Hong Kong.

Meanwhile, Bradley Manning, the disgraced Army private who handed WikiLeaks a trove of military communication data in the hope of exposing the hypocrisy of American war-making, is in court-martial proceedings. The government alleges Manning aided terrorists by making classified military information public.

Whatever their stated reasons for taking on the Feds, these two figures operated out of their own inscrutable motives; and we’ll never know the extent of their nobility or guile. The media, and those who consume media, will form widely divergent opinions about whistle-blowers like these two men.

Some will see them as abject criminals who knowingly committed treason against the United States by usurping its laws, even if their goals were honorable. Others will see them as heroes, men who realized that citizens have to act to “prune the tree” of government and that waiting for someone else to act is to grow ever more numb inside the slow boil toward tyranny.

But whoever the whistle-blowers are, and whatever their motives as individuals, consider the words of computer security guru Bruce Schneier: “We need whistle-blowers.”

Writing early Monday, just before Snowden’s identity became known, Schneier said the U.S. government:

…is on a secrecy binge. It overclassifies more information than ever. And we learn, again and again, that our government regularly classifies things not because they need to be secret, but because their release would be embarrassing.

Knowing how the government spies on us is important. Not only because so much of it is illegal — or, to be as charitable as possible, based on novel interpretations of the law — but because we have a right to know. Democracy requires an informed citizenry in order to function properly, and transparency and accountability are essential parts of that. That means knowing what our government is doing to us, in our name. That means knowing that the government is operating within the constraints of the law. Otherwise, we’re living in a police state…

…Mark Klein, Thomas Drake, and William Binney have all been persecuted for exposing technical details of our surveillance state. Bradley Manning has been treated cruelly and inhumanly — and possibly tortured — for his more-indiscriminate leaking of State Department secrets.

The Obama Administration’s actions against the Associated Press, its persecution of Julian Assange, and its unprecedented prosecution of Manning on charges of “aiding the enemy” demonstrate how far it’s willing to go to intimidate whistle-blowers — as well as the journalists who talk to them.

But whistle-blowing is vital, even more broadly than in government spying. It’s necessary for good government, and to protect us from abuse of power… Whistle-blowing is the moral response to immoral activity by those in power.

In the end, government whistle-blowing isn’t about the person blowing the whistle; it’s about shining light on the government.

If that light turns out to reveal unConstitutional and extraConstitutional powers and abuses, along with a necessary system of secrets, distortions and lies to cover it up, then be grateful for those courageous enough — or crazy enough — to haul the truth into the public square.

Farm Bill Pays Ag Subsidies To Rock Stars, Rockefellers

As Congress takes up a renewal of the massive, omnibus five-year entitlement plan known as the U.S. Farm Bill, don’t hold your breath for massive reforms.

So far, it appears a decision to do away with direct payments of taxpayer funds to farm aid recipients — many of them very, very wealthy corporations — has been reached.

But that’s likely the biggest change in a nearly $1 trillion package that will see more than $760 billion go to food stamp subsidies over the next 10 years, as the number of Americans on the program swells to more than 15 percent (as opposed to 2 percent 40 years ago) under President Barack Obama.

The Richmond Times-Dispatch excoriated Congress and the Obama Administration for their mutual adoration of the Farm Bill, citing both the “demosclerosis” that has the bill’s supportive lobby entrenched in the Washington, D.C., chain of power, as well as the perverse city-country gravy train that pays farmers for not producing (and pays urban people — including destitute farmers like Jon Bon Jovi and the Rockefeller family — through contrived entitlements).

“Anyone starting from scratch would not design a farm policy like the one America has. At least not anyone with a lick of common sense,” notes columnist Bart Hinkle. “But since common sense is as common on Capitol Hill as a unicorn stampede, we have…[a] confusing clutter of programs that pay farmers not to farm, reward them for undue risk, write checks to rock stars and Rockefellers, give special treatment to certain crops without rationale, and ladle out welfare to the wealthy while ignoring those on the margins.”

Read Hinkle’s full column here.

Sales Surge For Orwell’s 1984 As Big Brother Spy Scandals Mount

Interest in revisiting George Orwell’s classic portrayal of a totalitarian surveillance state has almost doubled at Amazon.com.

As of 4 p.m. CST Monday, the mammoth online bookseller listed Orwell’s 1984 at No. 17 among the day’s “Movers & Shakers” page, which tracks publications whose popularity is on the rise. Sales of 1984 had increased by 91 percent over the same period a day earlier. The book also jumped from 205th in the retailer’s book sales ranking to 107th — in a single day.

Orwell wrote 1984 in 1949, but the dystopian concepts he introduced have been prophetic — never more so than now in the U.S., where concern over authoritarian government masquerading as benevolent protector has compounded in only a few short days.

Friday’s revelation of the National Security Administration’s secret PRISM program, coupled with a Thursday scandal uncovering the agency’s phone metadata-mining scandal, has galvanized citizens already weary of President Barack Obama’s scandal-rocked second term against the intrusiveness of a government that, as Obama said Friday, has “struck the right balance” in trading privacy for safety.

“You can’t have 100 percent security and 100 percent privacy and zero inconvenience,” he said. “We are going to have make some choices as a society, and what I can say is that [PRISM] makes a difference in … anticipating and preventing attacks.”

Florida Governor Suspends Sheriff For Standing Up For 2nd Amendment

Republican Florida Governor Rick Scott has suspended the sheriff of the State’s least-populous county after he allegedly set free a man who’d been arrested for possessing a weapon without a permit.

Nick Finch, sheriff of Liberty County near the State’s Alabama-Georgia border, faces a 3rd-degree felony charge for official misconduct after evidently destroying or altering the paper trail that began when one of his deputies brought in a motorist who had two handguns in his car.

The motorist, Floyd Parrish, didn’t have a concealed-carry permit and was subsequently charged with carrying a concealed deadly weapon. Car carry is legal in Florida for those without a conceal-carry permit, but the law stipulates such firearms must be securely encased or  not readily accessible for immediate use – two stipulations which Parrish allegedly didn’t meet when he was pulled over in Liberty County.

Parrish stayed in jail until Sheriff Finch arrived, accompanied by the suspect’s brother. Finch allegedly spoke to both men about the incident before ordering that the charges be dropped and Parrish be released.

According to the JCFloridian, Finch allegedly told the deputy who’d arrested Parrish that he “believed in 2nd Amendment rights” and instructed jail staff to return his confiscated firearms.

But the Florida Department of Law Enforcement learned of the incident, which occurred in March, and obtained an arrest warrant for Finch. He was arrested and booked into the Liberty County jail last week before being released on his own recognizance. Gov. Scott has since suspended Finch and temporarily installed a regional agent with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement as acting sheriff.

Finch’s arrest for exercising his judgment in protecting another citizen’s Constitutional freedom has drawn anger from both locals and 2nd Amendment advocates throughout the U.S.

One Liberty County man said Finch may have been a sitting duck among longtime power brokers in a good old boy network,“[s]ince he’s considered what people consider an outsider and not from Liberty County, that they finally railroaded him out. In my personal opinion he was doing his job and people didn’t like it.”

Though Finch has not commented on his arrest, his attorney has said it’s ridiculous to construe the sheriff’s actions as anything but proper defense of his constituents’ Constitutional rights.

“The records at the jail show exactly what happened in this case and the records speak the truth. The sheriff looked at the facts and said ‘I believe in the second amendment and we’re not going to charge him.’ That is not misconduct at all. That is within the Sheriff’s prerogative whether to charge someone or not,” said attorney Jimmy Judkins.

Dean Garrison of DC Clothesline agrees:

With so many Sheriff’s offices making strong pro-2nd Amendment stands in 2013 this is a situation that was bound to happen. The Sheriff had every right not to charge this man. The 2nd Amendment of the constitution should supercede any Florida law. “Shall Not Be Infringed” still means something to men like Nick Finch.

The whole case will surely become about the documents. If Nick Finch destroyed the documents they will make an example of him for all of us to see. They have been waiting for this opportunity. This case will not be prosecuted to the extent that Nick Finch did not understand the 2nd Amendment. They will try to get him on a technicality.

Pro-2nd Amendment law enforcement officials all over the country need to take note. They are looking for any backdoor they can to try to shut you down. This story should be national news soon. My hope is that Finch did not destroy the documents and this case can be heard on its real merits.

Nick Finch was elected sheriff of Liberty, a county of only 8,400 people, in November of last year.

Cincinnati IRS Workers Reveal What Really Happened – And Yes, It’s What You Think

A pair of IRS agents who worked out of the Cincinnati office at the center of the widening Tea Party discrimination scandal told Congressional investigators that they were ordered by “higher-ups” in Washington, D.C. to target conservative political groups applying for tax-exempt status.

That’s a contention, notes CBS-D.C., that “directly contradicts claims made by the agency since the scandal erupted last month.”

One Cincinnati agent, Gary Muthert, said he was instructed by a local, unnamed supervisor to go through tax-exempt applications to see if they had “Tea Party” in their titles. But that local supervisor was acting, said Muthert, on order from on high: “He told me that Washington, D.C., wanted some cases.”

Using the “Tea Party” criteria yielded a small handful of applications, but, when Muthert widened his search to include phrases like “patriots’ or “9-12 project,” he hit upon close to 40 more applications.

“I used ‘patriots’ because some of the tea partiers wouldn’t, they would shorten their name to TP Patriots,” Muthert said. “I thought, OK, I will use ‘patriot.’”

From there, Muthert’s supervisor told him that “someone in Washington” had requested to see seven of those applications, but he told investigators he never knew who that “someone” was.

Another Cincinnati IRS agent, Elizabeth Hofacre, was responsible for processing Tea Party applications that had already been flagged in 2010. Her local supervisor, also unnamed, assigned those applications to her. But an IRS attorney in Washington, D.C. named Carter Hull – who worked in the tax-exempt division – allegedly “micromanaged” Hofacre’s work and contributed to the groups’ delay in receiving tax-exempt status.

Hofacre said she thought Hull’s interest in the cases was both unusual and “demeaning.”

“It was demeaning. One of the criteria is to work independently and do research and make decisions based on your experience and education, whereas on this case, I had no autonomy at all through the process,” she told investigators.

Hull also allegedly took his time signing off on letters Hofacre sent asking the flagged groups for extra documentation. “All I remember saying and thinking is, ‘This is ridiculous.’ Because at the same time, you are getting calls from irate taxpayers. And I see their point,” she said.

If the testimony is true and leads to the uncovering of additional evidence, it will further refute the many assertions made by IRS officials and the Administration of President Barack Obama that “rogue” agents acting independently in Cincinnati were solely responsible for the election-season targeting of conservative nonprofits.

Tracking The NSA’s Spy Career; PRISM Reveals All; Obama Says We’ve All Got Trust Issues; TGIF! – Personal Liberty Digest™ P.M. Edition 6-7-2013

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

The NSA’s Secret PRISM Program Uncovered – And It Shatters The Myth Of Internet Anonymity

British newspaper The Guardian introduced the world to the U.S. government’s secret program of direct data mining Friday, and the scope of its operation is mind blowing. Read more…

A Handy Timeline Of NSA’s Encroachment Into Americans’ Private Lives

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has compiled an extensive timeline of the National Security Agency’s (NSA) progressive intrusion into the private lives of American citizens, dating back to the agency’s creation in 1952. Read more…

Obama: Trust The Government

During a speech Friday President Barack Obama attempted to justify the government’s massive collection of American phone records. His message: Trust us, we’re from the government. Read more…

TGIF: 3 Obama Scandal Memes To Kick Off The Weekend On A Lighter Note

The headline says it all. Read more…

The NSA’s Secret PRISM Program Uncovered – And It Shatters The Myth Of Internet Anonymity

British newspaper The Guardian introduced the world to the U.S. government’s secret program of direct data mining Friday, and the scope of its operation is mind blowing.

Instituted by the National Security Agency (NSA) under President George W. Bush, PRISM literally grants the government direct access to everything that comes into, or leaves, servers at Google, Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, Yahoo, Skype, AOL and other U.S.-based internet sites that handle user data.

How? By legally forcing the companies to comply with the NSA’s surveillance demands by allowing the government direct access to whatever data – be it searches or search histories, emails, transfers of photos and video, live chats, metadata, social media profiles and pretty much anything else that can be transmitted over the internet:

The PRISM program allows the NSA, the world’s largest surveillance organisation, to obtain targeted communications without having to request them from the service providers and without having to obtain individual court orders.

With this program, the NSA is able to reach directly into the servers of the participating companies and obtain both stored communications as well as perform real-time collection on targeted users.

… Companies are legally obliged to comply with requests for users’ communications under US law, but the PRISM program allows the intelligence services direct access to the companies’ servers. The NSA document notes the operations have “assistance of communications providers in the US.”

The genius of the program is that the companies aren’t allowed to talk about or even acknowledge that they know about PRISM. And, ever since the program was exposed early Friday, denying PRISM’s existence is exactly what they’ve done.

It’s easy to see, now, what will preoccupy the manpower and resources of the NSA’s new data center in Utah. 

A Handy Timeline Of NSA’s Encroachment Into Americans’ Private Lives

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has compiled an extensive timeline of the National Security Agency’s (NSA) progressive intrusion into the private lives of American citizens, dating back to the agency’s creation in 1952.

The EFF, which seeks to defeat illegal governmental surveillance and litigates against the state to establish precedents that favor citizens’ Constitutional rights, explains on its website that the need for vigilance against a government that indiscriminately spies on its own people has never been more urgent:

The US government, with assistance from major telecommunications carriers including AT&T, has engaged in a massive program of illegal dragnet surveillance of domestic communications and communications records of millions of ordinary Americans since at least 2001.

Respect for individuals’ autonomy, anonymous speech, and the right to free association must be balanced against legitimate concerns like law enforcement. National governments must put legal checks in place to prevent abuse of state powers, and international bodies need to consider how a changing technological environment shapes security agencies’ best practices.

Check out the full timeline here.

Petraeus At Bilderberg; Unemployment Up ; China Building Bigger, Better ‘Panama’ Canal; NYT Can’t Hate BO; Getting’ Down To Gitmo — Friday Morning News Roundup 6-7-2013

Here is a collection of some of the stories that Personal Liberty staffers will be keeping an eye on throughout the day. Click the links for the full stories.

 

  • Disgraced Former CIA Director David Petraeus is attending this year’s Bilderberg Group meeting, evidently to offer input on how the expansion of surveillance capabilities can be harnessed and coordinated by governments partnering with the private sector.

 

  • Nicaragua has agreed to a 100-year concession with a Chinese company to build an alternative to the Panama Canal. The project is expected to cost $40 billion, and will track a channel through Lake Nicaragua to create a channel wider and deeper than the Panama Canal, which itself is currently being widened.

 

  • The national unemployment rate went up in May from 7.5 to 7.6 percent, despite Department of Labor statistics that showed jobs increased slightly more than expected. Most of the new jobs are coming from temporary help agencies and food service.

 

  • The New York Times quietly revised language in an editorial Thursday condemning President Barack Obama’s Administration for collecting Americans’ phone call data in order to tone down the harshness in the originally-published piece.

 

  • Elderly Senators John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) are joining White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough on a trip Friday to Guantanamo Bay prison.

 

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

Who’s Breaking News On White House Scandals? Not The Mainstream Media

So now the National Security Administration’s (NSA) long-running practice of collecting phone metadata on just about everyone has come to light. Who broke that story? Was it CBS? ABC? Was it even Fox News?

It was Glenn Greenwald writing for the UK paper The Guardian.

As Breitbart pointed out Thursday, almost no mainstream media in the U.S. has been in front of any of the many, many scandals that have emerged in the early sledding of President Barack Obama’s second term.

With the exception of some dogged reporters who’ve essentially had to go rogue within their own organizations in order to delve into the Benghazi scandal (like CBS’ Sharyl Atkisson and CNN’s Jake tapper) – and been persecuted by their own employers as a thank-you – there’s been precious little issues-based reporting, and a truckload of damage control, emanating from the American mainstream press over the IRS scandal; the AP scandal; Benghazi and now Verizon.

Leaks, scoops and whistle-blowing on all these scandals have come either from within (as in the case of the IRS), from members of Congress who realize how subservient the Legislative branch is becoming to the Executive branch (as in the case of Benghazi) – or from newsgathering outfits that lie well outside the American mainstream (as in the case of Verizon).

“Well, if it is Thursday, there must be a new Obama scandal,” writes John Nolte. “But one thing is for damn sure, whatever that scandal is, you can bet the American mainstream media will be playing catch up and not carrying the glory of breaking a story…”

Fact: Over the past few weeks, four major scandals have broken over the Obama administration, and it is a very sad (and frightening) truth that our pathetic, American, lapdog mainstream media is not responsible for breaking even a single one.

… And do you want to know what makes this realization especially pathetic? In three of the four scandals (the AP being the exception), had our media been less interested in protecting Power and more interested in holding Power accountable, these huge, career-making stories were right there for their taking.

Contrast that with the George W. Bush Administration (which opened the door of expanded executive surveillance power that Obama is now exploiting), when the White House Press Corps relentlessly dogged the President and his cabinet at every turn.

“[A]t least Power knew it was being watched,” observes Nolte. “Today, it is the complete opposite and the result is an administration run amok.”

Members Of Congress Got $238k In Welfare Last Year Thanks To Farm Bill

Four U.S. Senators and 11 House Representative were among the beneficiaries of taxpayer-funded farm subsidies last year, according to information compiled by Environmental Working Group (EWG), a health and environmental nonprofit.

The $237,921 the Congressmen received represents a drop in the $20 billion-per-year ocean of Farm Bill direct-subsidy money. A product of President Franklin Roosevelt’s Depression-era government expansion, the omnibus piece of budgeting and entitlement legislation now not only pays subsidies to farmers, but also dictates National food policy for both production and consumption, and funds the ever-swelling SNAP food stamp program.

In short, the Farm Bill is an entitlement monster. In socially conservative, rural States, a lot of sworn Republicans’ staunch talk about smaller government and ending welfare melts away to the loudest of Liberal bellyaching when talk of trimming, or ending, the Farm Bill comes up. Being against agricultural subsidies and the lobbying interests that back the farming business is a sure way to be a one-term Legislator in districts dominated by agriculture.

In the case of farmer’s subsidies, you don’t have to be out on the land to qualify. I’ve you’ve got any skin in the farming game at all —  no matter how tenuous the connection — you may qualify. South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem, for example, owned 16 percent of Racota Valley Ranch until 2008. She received more than $500,000 in subsidies between 1995 and 2012.

President Jimmy Carter’s farm has received $272,000 in subsidies over the same period — and although he arguably has more skin in the game than many of the Congressmen on the list, he’s also a wealthy former U.S. President who doesn’t exactly fit the profile of a needy farmer reaching out for a helping hand.

Politicians make easy targets, but the unchecked largesse of the Farm Bill knows no favorites. People like Ted Turner and Larry Flynt also have received farmers’ “welfare” payouts. Small farmers often receive subsidies to prevent them from cultivating certain crops.

Some subsidies are even given to individuals and companies that have absolutely nothing to do with agriculture. Food conglomerates and liquor distillers are only two examples.

Farm subsidies are just another example of the redistribution of wealth. Just another example of the federal government stealing money from one group of people and giving it to another. Just another example of crony capitalism.

The federal government would have you believe that these farm subsidies are meant to give assistance to small farmers when in reality, most of the money is given to larger farms, which of course, not only does not assist small farmers, but increases their chance of going out of business because of larger farms cornering certain markets. Additionally, some of the large dairy producers that are heavily subsidized have convinced the federal government to prohibit the sale of raw milk, continuing the trend of trying to put the little guys out of business and flooding the market with heavily pasteurized and potentially dangerous dairy products.

For a full list of Congressmen who received subsidies last year, check out the EWG study, or read an expanded article at CNS News.

President Stiffs A Whole Town, Rand Stands For 4th Amendment, House Leashes DHS On Ammo, Pelosi Lauds ‘Liberating’ Obamacare, Monsanto’s Been Punked? – Personal Liberty Digest™ P.M. Edition 6-6-2013

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

California Town Goes After President For $8,000 Security Bill

Atherton, the California town where a private April fundraising visit from President Barack Obama rankled local leaders saddled with the cost of extra security, is stepping up its efforts to recoup the money so that the town’s taxpayers don’t have to foot the bill. Read more…

Rand Paul Bill Would Strengthen 4th Amendment

Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.), in light of recent government spying scandals, will introduce legislation to strengthen Americans’ 4th Amendment protections against privacy intrusions. Read More…

House Lawmakers Want To Know Why DHS Needs All That Ammo

House lawmakers voted this week to disallow the Department of Homeland Security to enter new contracts for the purchase of millions of rounds of ammunition until DHS can explain to Congress why it needs so much ammo, and how much it is costing American taxpayers. Read more…

Pelosi: Mandatory Healthcare ‘Liberating,’ Think Of All The Wannabe Writers, Photographers

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) wants Americans to feel better about Obamacare, but she has a strange way of explaining how the “exciting enterprise” will benefit the populace. Read More…

Monsanto Blames GMO-Tainted U.S. Wheat On Sabotage

Agricultural giant Monsanto is partnering with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to determine how an experimental strain of wheat engineered to be resistant to herbicide ended up in cultivation in an Oregon field. The company is distancing itself from accountability, but isn’t ruling out sabotage. Read more…

Monsanto Blames GMO-Tainted U.S. Wheat On Sabotage

Agricultural giant Monsanto is partnering with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to determine how an experimental strain of wheat engineered to be resistant to herbicide ended up in cultivation in an Oregon field.

Monsanto is distancing itself from accountability, but isn’t ruling out the idea that someone else may have maliciously planted the company’s experimental “Roundup Ready” wheat – which hasn’t been in testing since 2005 – in an attempt to disrupt the market.

The Following the USDA’s revelation of the discovery last week, Japan and South Korea suspended some U.S. wheat purchases. One U.S. wheat farmer has also filed a Federal lawsuit, alleging Monsanto has harmed the market for his crop.

Monsanto technology officer Robb Fraley told reporters the Oregon wheat “seems likely to be a random, isolated occurrence more consistent with the accidental or purposeful mixing of a small amount of seed during the planting, harvesting or during the fallow cycle in an individual field,” and that sabotage “is certainly one of the options we are looking at.”

California Town Goes After President For $8,000 Security Bill

Atherton, the California town where a private April fundraising visit from President Barack Obama rankled local leaders saddled with the cost of extra security, is stepping up its efforts to recoup the money so that the town’s taxpayers don’t have to foot the bill.

The town may even go so far as to place a lien against two local homeowners who feted Obama as part of a fundraising tour on behalf of the Democratic National Committee. Obama attended a total of four fundraisers but made no public appearances during the Bay-Area trip, which lasted less than 24 hours.

According to CBS San Francisco, Atherton’s town manager believes the President, the Secret Service, the DNC or the homeowners – anyone, in fact, except the town’s taxpayers – should cough up the $8,000 required to provide extra security and cleanup necessitated by having the leader of the free world drop by for a private money grab which helped Democrats raise more than $3 million.

“If the town incurs a cost that rightly should belong to somebody else, we’re going to pursue that,” said George Rodericks. “We could follow a lien process of some kind, hold a public hearing, invite them to come, process it as a lien against their property and collect it via the property tax.”

“If we were to hold, say, a wedding here, and have to close off streets, we would expect the people that were hosting the wedding to pay it and I think the taxpayers would also ask for that,” said Councilman Bill Widmer.

Disabled Woman Attacked By Cop Calls 911 For Help

A Hearing-impaired Washington woman who was pulled over for allegedly using her cell phone while driving had a difficult time explaining to the officer that she couldn’t understand his commands.

Part of the reason for that, it seems, was that the cop didn’t bother listening to 36 year-old Megan Graham, who also suffers from a cognitive disorder, as she tried to tell him that she is disabled.

According to Graham, she got out of her car at her destination – the apartment of a friend whose pet she was caring for – and suddenly realized that a police cruiser was pulled in behind her car with its lights flashing. So she approached Federal Way, Wash. police officer Justin Anholt, who hadn’t yet left the seat of his police cruiser and was barking orders from inside the vehicle.

What she didn’t know was that Anholt was telling her to get back into her car. Being hearing impaired and all, she kept approaching him to explain her disabilities. The cop was having none of it, allegedly grabbing Graham’s wrist and pulling it behind her.

“I pulled my arm back, grabbed my phone and called 911 to call for help,” she told KIRO TV. “I told the officer I had mental and hearing disabilities, and didn’t understand why he was trying to hurt me.”

The recording of the 911 call indeed reveals Graham telling the officer, “You attacked me before you said anything! There is no point whatsoever for you to touch me like that, especially with my condition, so how dare you even touch me?”

As that was going on, with Graham still on the phone with the 911 dispatcher, another unnamed cop responding to the call escalated things by punching Graham several times in the face. Graham was left with a black eye and some very nasty bruises on the left side of her face.

Police have charged her with felony assault to a police officer.

“That woman was not resisting, I saw it,” said Graham’s friend Deborah Fenwick, who witnessed the encounter. “That woman doesn’t have a violent bone in her body. She’s got a heart of gold. If she would have understood the officer’s commands in the first place, she would have absolutely complied with him.”

Used Daily, Sunscreen Dramatically Slows Appearance Of Aging

In addition to its documented help in preventing skin cancer, it turns out that sunscreen has an aesthetic quality as well: used daily, it can diminish the appearance of wrinkles by 24 percent.

In a study of 900 young and middle-aged men and women spanning nearly five years, Australian researchers discovered no detectable skin aging in those who applied sunscreen daily, as opposed to the appearance of sun-induced wrinkles among those who didn’t.

Researchers at the Queensland Institute of Medical research divided the study population into two groups, with the first applying SPF15+ sunscreen every day on their faces, necks, hands and arms. The second group used sunscreen either rarely, or not at all. In all, the test period stretched over four and-a-half years.

The study didn’t involve those over the age of 55, in order to ensure that any appearance of aging could be attributed more to environmental factors (like sun exposure) than to the onset of genetics-related aging.

In order to gauge the appearance of wrinkles over time, the study even had Silicone impressions taken from the backs of all participants’ hands, both at the beginning and the end of the trial.

Once the results were measured, the research reflected a difference of 24 percent in the appearance of wrinkles between the two groups.

“This has been one of those beauty tips you often hear quoted, but for the first time we can back it with science: protecting yourself from skin cancer by using sunscreen regularly has the added bonus of keeping you looking younger,” said Professor Adele Green of the Queensland Institute. “And the study has shown that up to middle age, it’s not too late to make a difference.”