Ted Cruz Launches Petition To Thwart Gang Of Eight As Dems Reveal Amendment To Legalize ‘Victims’ Displaced By… Climate Change

Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) started a grass-roots petition last week to pressure his fellow Senators to back away from the Gang of Eight’s bipartisan immigration bill.

Telling supporters the bill isn’t principled in its pitch to grant amnesty to more than 10 million illegal aliens living in the United States, Cruz said it’s “urgent” that constituents send a unified message to Congress that legal immigration has to be the cornerstone of any attempt to reform laws and policies that direct a foreign national down a path to U.S. citizenship.

“This is urgent. We must stop this Gang of 8 immigration bill, which would give amnesty to an estimated 11 million illegal immigrants with no guarantee of a secure border,” said Cruz in an email to his supporters, as reported by Breitbart. “The Senate debate is in the final stages and we need to send Washington a strong signal of the overwhelming grassroots opposition to this amnesty bill from Americans across the country…act now – without delay – to help us defeat amnesty and stand for legal immigration!”

The petition kicked off just a day after Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) introduced an amendment to the immigration plan that, if approved, will allow “stateless,” displaced people staying in the United States to apply for legal status if their native countries have been altered by natural disaster due to climate change.

Schatz said climate change is not an “abstract challenge” but an indisputable fact with a human toll the U.S. can help mitigate, by allowing its many foreign victims to seek legal status here (since, presumably, America is immune to the “climate change” that’s running everyone else to our shores):

The amendment I am proposing is quite simple. If enacted, the Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Secretary of State, may designate individuals or a group of individuals displaced permanently by climate change as stateless persons.

Again, let me be clear about what this amendment does. It simply recognizes that climate change, like war, is one of the most significant contributors to homelessness in the world. And like with states torn apart and made uninhabitable by war, we have an obligation not to deport people back to a country made uninhabitable by sea level rise and other extreme environmental changes that render these states desolate. It does not grant any individual or group of individuals outside the United States with any new status or avenue for seeking asylum in the United States.

The amendment may not seek to grant anyone a new status, but it does immeasurably swell the population of non-citizens who can claim a legal foothold in the United States. And it does so disingenuously, by sheltering the argument for seeking legal status under the incredibly divisive, controversial and very dubious aegis of climate change as an incontrovertible, immutable fact.

The proposed amendment also would require funding for a study to assess (or, more likely, assign) the impact of climate change on populations who migrate internally within the U.S.

Obama Nominates Bush-Era Deputy AG James Comey To Succeed Robert Mueller As Head Of FBI

President Barack Obama nominated Republican James B. Comey, who served as Deputy Attorney General under George W. Bush, as a successor to outgoing FBI Director Robert Mueller today.

Comey, 52, will have to be confirmed by the Senate, but early reaction from members of Congress indicate the process isn’t likely to be as contentious as that accompanying the approval of many other past Obama nominees.

Mueller, who was appointed by President George W. Bush to lead the FBI shortly before the Sept. 11 World Trade Center attacks, will retire from the position after heading the agency, at Obama’s request, for two years beyond the expiration of his original 10-year appointment.

Comey made headlines in 2006 when he refused to sign off on the Bush White House’s demand for unspecified domestic surveillance procedures as part of the National Security Agency’s burgeoning spy program. At the time, Comey was functioning as acting Attorney General in place of AG John Ashcroft, who had been hospitalized for surgery.

The bizarre drama that unfolded resulted in a White House attempt to wrest approval for the NSA expansion from the convalescing Ashcroft himself, with Chief of Staff Alberto Gonzalez standing at Ashcroft’s bedside pleading for approval. Comey rushed to Ashcroft’s room just before Gonzalez arrived and urged the ailing AG to stand his ground. With Comey and FBI Director Mueller adamant that they’d both resign before they certified a questionable expansion of NSA powers while Ashcroft lay in the hospital, the White House relented.

Comey also led the prosecution of Martha Stewart at her 2004 trial and conviction for conspiracy and lying to investigators in connection with alleged insider trading.

PTR MovesGun Manufacturing Operation From Connecticut To South Carolina

They didn’t move to Texas, as Governor Rick Perry had hoped – but they are getting the hell out of Connecticut.

PTR (Precision Target Rifle) Industries, which announced in April it would relocate its operations outside its home State after the Connecticut Legislature approved a sweeping gun control package, announced Wednesday it plans to move its entire operation to an expanded location in Aynor, South Carolina.

Based in Bristol, PTR manufactures the PTR-91 series of rifles, products which are now illegal to purchase in the very State where they’re made. “One hundred percent of our product line is now illegal in Connecticut due to that law,” said PTR Sales Vice President John McNamara.

PTR employs more than 40 workers, and had already worked to secure agreements with most of them, including gunsmiths, to relocate with the company. Less than two weeks after Connecticut’s gun laws were passed, the manufacturer put out a public call for others in the firearms industry to join it in “abandoning” states where leaders refuse to hew to the Bill of Rights.

The rights of the citizens of CT have been trampled upon. The safety of its children is at best questionably improved from the day of the tragedy that triggered the events that lead us here. Finally, due to an improperly drafted bill, manufacturing of modern sporting rifles in the State of CT has been effectively outlawed. With a heavy heart but a clear mind, we have been forced to decide that our business can no longer survive in Connecticut — the former Constitution state.

According to the Hartford Courant, PTR will maintain an investment of $8 million and expand to 145 employees in order to meet the terms of a lease agreement with Horry County, S.C. The agreement also specifies employees’ average wages must surpass $19.39 per hour. PTR CEO Josh Fiorini said the company already pays an average wage of $22 per hour.

Do I Get A Free Jersey? President Taps NBA And Other Sports Pros To Market Obamacare

In an effort to sell the dimly understood, byzantine and regressive healthcare scheme that is the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the Administration of President Barack Obama is reaching out to the NBA and other professional sports leagues in the hope of popularizing Obamacare to a broad demographic of uninformed, entertainment-addled Americans.

Operating on the hope that what’s cool enough for LeBron James and Kevin Durant will be cool enough for you, the Obama Administration is working through the heavily partisan Enroll America nonprofit, as well as the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, to persuade the NBA to let the President hitch his healthcare star to the league’s media wagon.

The NBA hasn’t made a public statement about whether it’s on board, but the Administration is banking on aligning its target audience — Americans who don’t know much about insurance and haven’t yet thought about how they’ll approach subsidized coverage as the Oct. 1 enrollment start date nears — with the league’s popularity among young viewers, which POLITICO described Wednesday as a natural fit:

[F]or the administration, the allure is obvious. The NBA season’s calendar tracks closely with the six-month period during which Americans have a chance to sign up for subsidized insurance around the country — beginning on Oct. 1. And NBA fans fit key demographics targeted by supporters of the health law.

“You just can’t be a smoker and be obese or heavy … and be a basketball player. These folks are kind of the picture of youth and health, and in some ways, that’s the target audience,” said Jon Kingsdale, appointed by then-Gov. Mitt Romney in 2006 to oversee the implementation of the Massachusetts health law — which got a big messaging boost from the Boston Red Sox.

The possible NBA deal would serve as just one pillar supporting the Administration’s marketing bridge, as it ramps up the Obamacare rhetoric to “educate” the public about their options under the new law. With or without the sponsorship of athletic organizations, Enroll America is already launching campaigns in 18 States to bring people up to speed on what their options will be for getting poorer.

Is A Revived Border Fence Tough Enough To Coax ‘Yes’ Votes From Senate Conservatives On Immigration Reform?

Two days ago, it looked as though an effort by conservatives to force completion of a 700-mile fence along the U.S.-Mexico border had died on the Senate floor.

But Thursday, it appeared that a revived, retooled border security amendment had made its way back into the discussion, with some Senate Republicans — at least those who are eager to see an immigration reform bill passed — tacking the proposal back onto the Gang of Eight’s controversial, yet bipartisan legislation.

The move is designed to appease conservatives who’ve sworn they won’t support the immigration package on a final vote, especially after Tuesday’s failure of a proposal that would have mandated the border fence, which has been partially constructed in parts of the far Southwest, be finished.

The overall bill still includes a path to citizenship for the estimated 11 million illegal aliens who’ve crossed the border from Mexico to seek better economic fortunes, and many Senate conservatives have promised there’s no amount of sweetening the deal — by throwing in border fences or anything else — that will persuade them to vote for an immigration package that grants amnesty to illegal aliens.

Still, it was a Republican — Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee — who helped re-sell Senate conservatives on a reworked version of the border fence amendment. “For people who are concerned about border security, once they see what is in this bill, it’s almost overkill,” he said Thursday.

Aside from the fence itself, Corker’s border security markup apparently promises to double the number of patrol agents working the border region and to budget additional money for drone surveillance.

Gang of Eight Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), whose stock among conservatives has taken a devastating hit as his support for immigration reform (read: amnesty) has increased, also touted the Corker plan Thursday, as did Vice President Joe Biden.

Meanwhile, unwavering conservatives in the Senate don’t look like they can be persuaded. Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) said amnesty in any form will depress current wages and unload a flood of unskilled labor on the American economy that wouldn’t abate for more than a decade.

“This legislation — if it were to pass — the wages of American workers will fall for the next 12 years,” he warned. “They will be lower than inflation rates… It’s going to increase unemployment and it’s going to pull down wages. That is exactly the wrong thing that ought to be happening at this time. How in the world can we justify passing a bill that hammers the American working man and woman that’s out trying to feed a family?”

Session got his information from a Congressional Budget Office report released this week that attempts to estimate the long-term economic effect the immigration bill would have on the United States if it becomes law.

Among other findings, the CBO “…expect[s] that a greater number of immigrants with lower skills than with higher skills would be added to the workforce, slightly pushing down the average wage for the labor force as a whole… However, CBO and JCT [the Joint Committee on Taxation] expect that currently unauthorized workers who would obtain legal status under S. 744 would see an increase in their average wages… [An] increase in the average wage would not occur for a dozen years.”

Monsanto Exec Receives World Food Prize For Pioneering GMO Research

Robert Fraley, the Chief Technology Officer for Monsanto Corporation, has been named as one of three recipients of the World Food Prize, an honor commonly referred to as the ‘Nobel Prize’ of the agricultural world.

Fraley received the award for “independent, individual breakthrough achievements in founding, developing and applying modern agricultural biotechnology,” according to World Food Prize Foundation president Kenneth Quinn.

The U.S.-based World Food Prize Foundation advocates for the development of genetically-modified foods (GMOs). GMOs are still not approved for use in Europe, although prize co-winner Marc Van Montgau, a Belgian, said he believes his award will help “pave the way for Europe to embrace the benefits of this technology, a global condition of transgenic plants.”

Fraley and the other honorees will receive a $250,000 cash award.

Bill To Rein In Federal Abuse Of CFAA Law Hits Congress; Named For Aaron Swartz

A bill that aims to rein in the vague and easily-misapplied Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), and hopefully curb a pattern of government bullying of online dissenters, was introduced in Congress today.

Congressmen Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) introduced thebill before the House of Representatives after soliciting input from the online Reddit community to help ensure the measure’s integrity.

Dubbed “Aaron’s Law” to honor the late Aaron Swartz, the bill is intended to end the government’s ability to use the CFAA to harass people who attempt civil disobedience but, because of CFAA’s current broadness, end up facing felony prosecution. Swartz killed himself earlier this year in the midst of an ongoing Federal investigation that, under the CFAA, could have sent him to prison for decades for sharing a trove of academic documents (most of which were created with public funds) to the internet.

The bill has the endorsement of the tech media, which has grown more and more incensed with the Administration of President Barack Obama as Federal scandals involving abuse of phone surveillance powers, broad online spy programs and targeted bullying of internet-based political activists continue to mount.

The two Congressmen made a strong case against enabling the U.S. Department of Justice and the FBI with pliable, permissive laws like CFAA in an opinion piece they co-authored for Wired magazine:

Vagueness is the core flaw of the CFAA. As written, the CFAA makes it a federal crime to access a computer without authorization or in a way that exceeds authorization. Confused by that? You’re not alone. Congress never clearly described what this really means. As a result, prosecutors can take the view that a person who violates a website’s terms of service or employer agreement should face jail time.

So lying about one’s age on Facebook, or checking personal email on a work computer, could violate this felony statute. This flaw in the CFAA allows the government to imprison Americans for a violation of a non-negotiable, private agreement that is dictated by a corporation. Millions of Americans — whether they are of a digitally native or dial-up generation — routinely submit to legal terms and agreements every day when they use the Internet. Few have the time or the ability to read and completely understand lengthy legal agreements.

Another flaw in the CFAA is redundant provisions that enable a person to be punished multiple times … for the same crime. …This allows prosecutors to bully defendants into accepting a deal in order to avoid facing a multitude of charges from a single, solitary act.

In Swartz’ case, that’s exactly what happened.

But Aaron’s Law would clarify and rework the definition of “exceeds authorization” so that the burden of proof to demonstrate a suspect’s evil intent would fall on the state – rather than giving the state carte blanche to investigate and charge someone based on an obvious technicality. It would also change the overlapping sentencing provision in order to “ensure that the penalty enhancement is directed at repeat offenders rather than individuals facing multiple charges.”

Barack Obama’s G8 Speech ‘An Alarming Call For An End To Catholic Education’

At least he was smart enough to test the waters on foreign soil before introducing this particular facet of his agenda in the United States.

Speaking in Belfast, Northern Ireland, the location of this year’s G8 summit, President Barack Obama flatly told a crowd of about 2,000 that parochial schools are, essentially, part of the problem. Naturally, the listening crowd had more than a few Irish Catholics in attendance.

“If towns remain divided — if Catholics have their schools and buildings and Protestants have theirs, if we can’t see ourselves in one another and fear or resentment are allowed to harden — that too encourages division and discourages cooperation,” said the President.

Catholic World News described Obama’s shocking statement as an argument “that parochial schools are an impediment to the establishment of a lasting peace in Northern Ireland.”

The Scottish Catholic Observer went further, saying the President’s rhetoric “has made an alarming call for an end to Catholic education in Northern Ireland in spite of the fact that Archbishop Gerhard Muller told Scots that Catholic education was a ‘critical component of the Church.’”

Indeed, the Vatican had recently praised the value of Catholic education over the weekend, when Muller — a direct appointee of Pope Benedict XVI to the Prefecture of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith — told a Scottish audience that Catholic schools offer a convergence of “intellectual training, moral discipline and religious commitment” that serves students well in all walks of life.

Perhaps because of the setting for Obama’s remarks, most of the distress over their sinister implications has come from Catholics. But the part-Irish President equally condescended to Protestants in his statement, even though an Internet search two days after the speech turns up little in the way of alarm from non-Catholic Christians.

American Catholic priest Fr. John Zuhlsdorf spoke for many Christians of all faiths when he assessed the President’s intentions on his blog:

Another example of what this man wants: total isolation of any religious values in the private sphere alone.

…Off the top of my head, I can’t think of a foreign visit to a Islamic nation where he told people on his arrival that they shouldn’t have madrasas.  Can you?

Did he when visiting, say, Israel, say “You Jews shouldn’t have synagogue schools and you muslims shouldn’t have mosque schools.”  I can’t remember.  Did he?

Municipal Governments Slash Worker Hours To Escape Obamacare

Obamacare was ostensibly conceived to enrich the lives of Americans living near the bottom of the economic food chain. It was President Barack Obama’s bold imposition of socialized wealth redistribution on an American capitalist blueprint that, while flawed by restrictions that already had taken baby steps toward socialism (thanks largely to insurance industry lobbyists), essentially didn’t accommodate the designs of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

But with Obamacare’s 2014 start inching nearer, tangible examples are beginning to emerge showing how the President’s radical vision of wealth distribution is fast tracking everybody (well, everybody who’s not tied in with the elected class) to the poorhouse.

Until recently, all the horror stories of businesses cutting their workers’ hours in an attempt to avoid Obamacare’s minimum-coverage mandate seemed to emanate from the private sector. But Investors Business Daily has begun compiling a long list of publicly funded agencies (schools, universities, municipal governments) that are similarly turning chunks of their full-time labor force into part-time, low-wage minions who won’t be eligible for employer-backed healthcare benefits come 2014.

Here are just a few highlights. You can see the full list (which itself will undoubtedly grow) here.

  • In Kern County, Calif., county administrators are trying to cut hours for 800 employees — or else find a new supply of at least $8 million annually to afford extending Obamacare-mandated benefits (at higher prices) to a larger pool of qualifying employees.
  • The Community College of Allegheny County, Pa., is cutting hours for 400 faculty and staff to avoid a $6 million annual hike in Obamacare costs.
  • “We have the budget to pay the people, but we do not have the budget to pay for the health care,” said Medina, Ohio, Mayor Dennis Hanwell, lamenting the city’s decision to cut employee hours from 35 to 29 hours per week. The cuts avoided an additional $1 million in new healthcare coverage costs for the city.
  • The Granite School District in Salt Lake City, Utah, was facing $14 million in new health coverage costs if it continued without modifying its workers’ hours. So it slashed 1,000 of its workers’ schedules to 29 hours per week — one hour beneath Obamacare’s 30-hour threshold before employers have to offer healthcare coverage.
  • “We simply can’t afford the Afford Care Act,” said Birmingham, Mich., Commissioner Gordon Rinschler, explaining the city’s cutting of seasonal employees’ work hours. “It’s hard to believe our friends in Washington, our professional politicians, didn’t exempt municipalities from this. They exempted all their friends — I guess you have to be a defense contractor or sell light bulbs to qualify for that.”

WASTRELS: Feds Trying To Text Like (Their Idea Of) Gays In $500,000 Outreach To Promiscuous Meth Heads

The National Institutes of Health is devoting $509,000 in grant funds to a Baltimore-based outreach program aimed at curbing sexual promiscuity and abuse of methamphetamine among homosexual addicts.

How?

By sending them encouraging text messages that are linguistically tailored to align with their subculture’s perceived vernacular.

In other words, the grant’s recipient, Friends Research Institute of Baltimore, is going to send gay men who’re hooked on meth some text messages every now and then that gaily urge them to use condoms and stay away from drugs.

The messages will be crafted to accord with “gay lingo” in a bid to appear credible and, hopefully, more effective, according to lead researcher Dr. Cathy Reback.

“We did a pilot about four, five years ago with 52 out-of-treatment MSM (males who have sex with males),” Reback told CNS News. “And we sent them text messages that were gay specific — used gay lingo — and made references to the connection between high-risk sex and methamphetamine use among MSM.

“So what I wanted to do with this text messaging intervention was to optimize the opportunity to get these guys [to have safer sex] by sending text messages, as opposed to ‘Come into my brick and mortar site that’s ten miles from your house, and come for a group [session].’  I mean – you know – okay maybe! …You know, send them text messages as they’re walking into a bathhouse, or while they’re getting dressed in their home, or on the computer to hook up with somebody.”

Sadly, Reback would not divulge the content of the targeted gay text messages, nor would she offer any clue as to which gay-sounding slang words they might contain. Similarly, she didn’t explain how the Institute zeroed in on an idea of what gay meth heads generally sound like when they text.

Lacking the entertainment value to be found in that info, taxpayers truly won’t be getting their money’s worth from this wasteful use of their dollars.

AP President: U.S. Department Of Justice Is ‘Judge, Jury And Executioner’ When It Comes To Secret Spying

Gary Pruitt, president of The Associated Press (AP), told the National Press Club at a luncheon today that the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) enjoys the luxury of operating with few systemic checks and balances when it comes to warrantless and secret surveillance, calling the Nation’s highest law enforcement office the government’s own “judge, jury and executioner” for breaking its own rules when it secretly culled the AP’s phone records.

Instead of notifying the news company that it had subpoenaed call records for more than 20 separate phone lines from its offices in three cities and working with the AP to hone in on whomever DOJ was targeting, Pruitt said the DOJ just made the scope of its seizure as broad as it wanted.

“There was never that opportunity,” he said. “Instead the DOJ acted as judge, jury and executioner in private; in secret.”

The fallout from the scandal, which galvanized the AP and other news organizations against the Feds and momentarily woke them to the myth of President Barack Obama’s “transparency” Administration, is strangling the relationship between news bureaus in Washington, D.C., and many of their cultivated sources from inside the government. Why? Government intimidation, said Pruitt:

The actions of the DOJ against AP are already having an impact beyond the specifics of this particular case. Some of our longtime trusted sources have become nervous and anxious about talking to us, even on stories that aren’t about national security. And in some cases, government employees that we once checked in with regularly will no longer speak to us by phone, and some are reluctant to meet in person.

This chilling effect is not just at AP; it’s happening at other news organizations as well.  Journalists from other news organizations have personally told me it has intimidated sources from speaking to them.

AT&T Customers: Why Can’t We Turn These Damn Obama Alerts Off Our iPhones!?

A software update to recent models of the Apple iPhone 4S and iPhone 5 will soon have AT&T cellular customers scratching their heads, trying to figure out a way to decline “Presidential” alerts from automatically appearing on their screens.

They can stop trying, because those alerts are “supposed” to be there; and there’s nothing you can do about it — seriously.

AT&T released this bulletin on its consumer blog earlier this week, advising people whose iPhones run iOS 6.1 and higher that they have no choice about declining an automatic, “mandatory” software update that enables push notifications for government-issued safety alerts and Presidential alerts. But, it advises, customers at least can turn off all the government alerts by switching off the “Notifications” option in their phones’ settings menu… except for Presidential alerts.

There’s no declining a message from the President, as the company’s bulletin unceremoniously makes clear:

These are government-issued safety messages that include AMBER Alerts, emergency alerts – such as man-made or natural disasters, and Presidential alerts.

Wireless Emergency Alerts are part of the FCC’s CMAS program. You may turn off alerts (except for Presidential alerts) if you choose.  Go to Settings >Notifications>Turn On/Off.

CMAS is the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Commercial Mobile Telephone Alerts system, adopted in 2008 for the “facilitating [of] the ability of consumers to receive emergency alerts through their wireless phones” from Federal, State, tribal and local governments.

While the FCC’s website describes recipients of these text-based messages as “subscribers,” it dutifully notes: “Subscribers would automatically receive these alerts if they have a CMAS-compatible handset. There would be no subscriber opt-in requirements.” If you can’t opt in, then guess what? You can’t opt out.

In other words, your phone company is the “subscriber.” As a customer, all you’re good for is funding, to pay for the use of a phone that’s surveilled, taxed and enabled to receive one-way instructions from the elected class and its enforcers.

If only the phone in President Barack Obama’s hands had no option for declining “mandatory” messages from the people…

The Numbers Don’t Lie: Chris Christie Is A RINO-DIP (Republican In Name Only; Democrat In Principle)

True conservatives largely agree that mainstream Republicans aren’t representing their interests, but find it anathema to vote for Democrats with openly liberal views on fiscal controls and the reach of government.

But if the GOP hedges on its nominee for the 2016 Presidential election by picking the candidate with the broadest cross-party appeal, conservatives could find themselves enduring another four-year wait until the White House has another chance to be free of liberals.

That’s because, at least at the moment, the potential candidate who stands to glean the greatest number of crossover votes nationwide is none other than corpulent New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.

A new Gallup poll shows what many conservatives have known for a long time: Christie is more beloved outside his own party than within it.

Of five Republicans (Christie, Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio and Paul Ryan) whose names Gallup ran past a random sampling of 1,529 Americans, Christie’s actually played better with Democrats than with Republicans. In fact, he was the only Republican for whom Democrats, on balance, held a favorable opinion.

Presumably on the strength of his national exposure following Superstorm Sandy, Christie scored a higher “net favorable” number (37) among Democrats than he did with his 28 rating among Republicans. As a result of all that love from the left, Christie took the poll’s top spot for the GOP candidate with the highest approval rating among Americans as a whole, regardless of party affiliation.

Republicans, on the other hand, preferred both Ryan and Rubio to Christie, with Ryan receiving a 69 percent favorable rating among GOP members.

In terms of name recognition, Christie scored high across political lines. But the Republican whose name was recognized the least — even among members of his own party — is, perhaps, the least “Republican” of the bunch.

That’s Senator Ted Cruz of Texas. Only half the Republicans surveyed even knew who he was.

BREAKING: Senate Votes To Exclude Border Fence From Immigration Bill

The U.S. Senate tossed a provision in the Gang of Eight’s controversial attempt at bipartisan-backed immigration reform, voting 54-39 against a measure that would have mandated the construction of a 700-mile long border fence physically separating the U.S. from Mexico.

The vote largely ran along party lines, although Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and four other Republicans conspicuously voted to preserve the spirit of the Gang of Eight’s original plan, which never called for completion of the border fence, by voting against the add-on.

Rubio has been roundly criticized by fellow Republicans and some conservatives for backing a bill they believe is far too permissive of illegal immigration as a path to U.S. citizenship through amnesty. Senator Jeff Session (R-Ala.) goaded Rubio’s pro-immigration reform TV ads Tuesday by implying he’s not the conservative whom Florida voters elected to the Senate in 2010.

“He is the one that’s in everybody’s homes running the ads,” said Sessions. “Makes you want to say ‘Marco, there’s somebody on the television pretending to be you, saying vote for the bill that you recently said shouldn’t pass in its current form.’”

The idea of a border fence isn’t new to Congress. It passed the Secure Fence Act in 2006, and the law was signed by President George W. Bush that same year. It was partially constructed, with the biggest span running from San Diego, Calif., to Yuma, Ariz., but has remained unfinished after the Department of Homeland Security either ran out of or stopped spending the non-earmarked fund it receives from Congress to enforce border security. Finishing the fence project could cost $6.5 billion per year on a 20-year construction cycle, well above the paltry $2.4 billion that’s been spent so far.

Eyewitness: ‘Super Trigger Happy’ Cops Endanger Motorists Waiting At DUI Roadblock

A young North Carolina couple returning from a Father’s Day outing with their infant daughter slowed down for a DUI checkpoint in Brunswick County, N.C., Sunday evening.

That’s when the driver of an SUV nearer the front of the line made an alleged attempt to escape, and seven cops allegedly started shooting.

The couple, Jared and Rose Cleerdin, along with their daughter Chloe were too close for safety (to say nothing of comfort); but at least they came away with an incredible account of how little regard the police evidently showed for the safety of all the motorists and passengers they’d been flagging down.

“Every cop turned around and started unloading like super trigger happy as if their training was coming into full effect and they were being able to utilize it,” said Cleerdin. “Everybody was just blasting this car to pieces. It was absolutely terrifying.”

Cleerdin said he estimated about 40 rounds were fired, with the bullets “ricocheting off the road” in the direction of oncoming traffic, with the officers allegedly demonstrating no regard for public safety — despite the DUI checkpoint’s stated purpose of accomplishing just that.

The SUV’s occupants, Jerry Melvin and Antoine Graham, both survived but were hospitalized. Brunswick County Sheriff John Ingram stood behind the officers’ actions at a press conference the following day, saying the SUV looked as though it were going to run over deputies manning the checkpoint.

“Realizing their lives were in danger of being run over by this vehicle, [officers] proceeded to shoot at the vehicle in attempts to stop the vehicle from traveling any further,” he said.

“Another question that always arises is, were officers acting recklessly and without regard for the public safety and I can assure you they were acting with extreme care for the safety of the public and the safety of everyone involved in that checkpoint.”

Not according to the Cleerdin family.

“It was way beyond reckless,” said Jared. “I couldn’t believe it. These are professional people; professional officers, and they’re training, they’re highly trained and they’re not supposed to do stuff like that. I could understand why they wouldn’t come out with an explanation as to what happened after seeing what we saw. It looked like every officer there did not follow protocol in any way, shape, or form.”

Seven deputies from both Brunswick and New Hanover Counties in North Carolina were involved in the shooting, and they’ve been moved to administrative duty while the State Bureau of Investigation reviews their conduct during the shooting.

‘Warrant? You Don’t Need To See No Stinkin’ Warrant. Cuff Her!’

The police department in a small Texas town is backpedaling on the actions of two officers who arrested a local woman simply because she asked to see an arrest warrant before they attempted to apprehend her juvenile son for an undisclosed alleged crime.

On May 29, in Slaton, Texas, a small town just southeast of Lubbock, a woman knew police would probably come to talk to her about an undisclosed criminal complaint against her 11-year-old. She was also pretty sure that they would try to arrest him.

The woman told MyFOX Lubbock she didn’t have a problem with any of that. She just wanted to see the warrant for her son’s arrest before the police attempted to apprehend him at their home. So when they showed up, she asked.

That must have rankled the police, according to the woman’s account of events.

I told him, “I will release my son to you upon viewing those orders.” Those were exactly my words…He [the officer] said, “This is how you want to play?” He took two steps back, turned around to the officer and said, “Take her.” They turned me around, handcuffed me and took me in.

So the mom spent the night in jail. The son stayed at home. The mother arranged for another adult to stay overnight at the house with her son, figuring that police would get a warrant and return to apprehend him. But they never came back.

He told me it was their duty to come pick up my son…Yet, I had someone stay the night at my house. They never came back that evening, they never came to pick up my son, or do what they told me they were there to do in the beginning.

After her release the next day (presumably because the cops had no reason to charge her with a crime in the first place), the police department offered the family an apology — on the condition they’d agreed not to sue the Slaton Police Department.

Family attorney Dwight said that’s an absurd proposition for obvious reasons.

“This occurred on May 29 when they went out to apprehend this young man,” he said. “The directive to apprehend was not signed until May 30, which is another indication that they didn’t have the authority to go out and arrest him or apprehend this young man… If she [the mother] moves out of Slaton and tries to find a job elsewhere, you can Google her name, and at that point, the arrest, my guess is, is going to show up.”

The mother added: “I’ve never been in trouble, in 32 years of my life, from anything, and to get thrown in jail because I asked a question is not right.”

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Article has been edited from original. –BL

Your Medical Info Now A Matter Of Government Trust Under Obamacare

A detailed set of guidelines explaining how State and Federal agencies will determine patient eligibility for Obamacare coverage was released late last week, and it authorizes government at all levels to pass around your personal medical information, as well as share it with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

The guidelines call for local and Federal agencies to share patients’ sensitive medical information in order to vet anyone signing up for insurance under State-run “health care exchange” networks, ostensibly to determine which kinds of coverage they’re eligible for, and to make sure they’re enrolling at least for minimum coverage.

Since 2003, that kind of information sharing has been something for which hospitals and private insurers have had to show justification and, in certain instances, obtain patients’ permission, under the Title II “Privacy Rule” of HIPAA, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996. The new Obamacare guidelines essentially add multiple layers of Federal and State government to the list of entities that can share information.

And, unlike hospitals and insurers have had to do under HIPAA, Obamacare has no provision requiring government agencies to seek your permission before obtaining information about your medical history, lab work, history of insurance coverage and payment for medical bills.

The IRS will also have to have access to this information for the 2013 fiscal year (and beyond), in order to determine whether to penalize you for not enrolling in a coverage program and to enforce Obamacare for those who do participate in coverage through a State-managed exchange network.

That kind of access, particularly in the wake of unresolved scandals revealing a little of the IRS’s proclivity to corrupt manipulation at the hands of politicians in Washington, D.C., troubles a handful of Congressmen convinced that government is too big and too pervasive in Americans’ private lives.

Paul Bedard of the Washington Examiner noted Monday that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has promised the government will only use patients’ personal information to help assess which Obamacare coverage is right for new applicants. But that’s a matter of faith, not law. And these days, everyone trusts the disgraced and discredited Federal government, don’t they?

The new ruling surprised some congressional critics. “This sounds as if HHS will have access to protected health info to me,” said one top Hill aide worried about how well the administration will protect that information.

Conservative groups like Americans for Tax Reform have raised questions about the release of PHI [Personal Health Information] in the aftermath of the IRS scandal.

Look closer at how HHS justifies its mandatory (under Obamacare) intrusion into patients’ privacy, and you’ll find the same smug, condescending paternalism, cloaked in the sort of Kafkaesque jargon liberals employ to conceal from their constituents the fact that they’re no smarter than anyone else, that defines the character of the Administration of President Barack Obama.

Essentially, HHS has the right to dip into your data because A) it’s the law, now; B) it’s the only way the government can become a player in the information cycle that, until now, has worked just fine without the government; and C) you’re accepting the devil’s bargain assistance of a government program (Obamacare), so you have to let us know you’re holding up your end of the generous bargain that’s been forced upon you by the Feds. (Now you know what it feels like to be a U.S. State.)

“The exchange would submit specific identifying information to HHS and HHS would verify applicant information with information from the federal and state agencies or programs that provide eligibility and enrollment information regarding minimum essential coverage. Such agencies or programs may include but are not limited to Veterans Health Administration, TRICARE, and Medicare,” said the new rule, which HHS is seeking public comment on.

“HHS will work with the appropriate federal and state agencies to complete the appropriate computer matching agreements, data use agreements, and information exchange agreements which will comply with all appropriate federal privacy and security laws and regulations. The information obtained from federal and state agencies will be used and re-disclosed by HHS as part of the eligibility determination and information verification process,” added the rule.

Explaining the PHI release ruling, HHS said Obamacare “is a government program providing public benefits, is expressly authorized to disclose PHI…that relates to eligibility for or enrollment in the health plan to HHS for verification of applicant eligibility for minimum essential coverage as part of the eligibility determination process for advance payments of the premium tax credit or cost-sharing reductions.”

Home Birth May Be Safer Than Hospital Delivery, Says Study

A Dutch study has found that having a baby at home with a midwife is likely safer than going through childbirth in a hospital environment.

The study, which was released in English to LiveScience last week, examined the experiences of 146,000 women – 92,000 of whom delivered a child at home, while 54,000 gave birth at a hospital. It found that only one in every 1,000 mothers who chose home birth experienced serious delivery complications (like needing a blood transfusion) – compared with 2.3 complications per thousand for those who gave birth at the hospital.

Home births also produced a lower rate of less-severe complications (like postpartum bleeding or having to manually remove the placenta). In fact, the rate of postpartum hemorrhage for home deliveries was nearly half (19.6 per thousand) that of hospital births (37.6 per thousand).

The study group was composed of women whose risk for in-pregnancy complications was minimal, and the study doesn’t advise expectant moms to plan for a home birth if they’re bringing to term a pregnancy with aberrant complications.

It also speculated that statistics produced in the Netherlands, where home births are common, would favor the relative safety of home births there, since midwives are well-trained and integral to the Nation’s medical community.

UPDATE: Prosecutors Not Backing Down From Case Of West Virginia Eighth-Grader Suspended For NRA T-Shirt

A while back, we told you about a West Virginia eighth-grader who wore a National Rifle Association shirt to school and got suspended — and arrested — for peaceably refusing to take it off. He donned the same shirt on his first day back at school following the suspension, and bunch of his classmates who had in the meantime gone out and bought their own NRA shirts (evidently with support from their parents) welcomed Jared Marcum back to Logan Middle School by dressing in similar fashion. No one at the school tried to stop that show of support.

That was mid-April. Now, two months later, Jared has appeared before a judge to answer to an official charge of obstructing an officer. The 14-year-old faces a $500 fine and up to a year in jail after Judge Eric O’Brien allowed prosecutors to move forward with the case.

Police were called to the school in April, when a teacher noticed Jared’s shirt as he was waiting in the lunch line and unsuccessfully tried to get him either to turn the shirt inside out or change clothes. He chose suspension over either option, and told the police “I believe that I should have a right to wear this” shirt. Multiple reports allege that Jared never raised his voice or became combative during the incident; he just simply wasn’t going to take that shirt off.

At the time of the incident, the school’s dress code didn’t forbid the wearing of shirts that advocate for the 2nd Amendment, as Jared’s “Protect Your Rights” NRA T-shirt did.

“Every aspect of this is just totally wrong,” Jared’s father, Allen Lardieri, told WOWK-TV. “He has no background of anything criminal, up until now, and it just seems like nobody [adult] wants to admit they’re wrong.”

In a related weekend incident with national implications, there’s no word on whether this guy will face prosecution for Tweeting this inflammatory, violence-inciting depiction of “toy” guns, seen by millions of impressionable Americans:

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CREDIT: THE WHITE HOUSE

Or the unfortunate students at this school, all of whom obviously have dark ties with Mother Nature’s pro-gun agenda:

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CREDIT: FUNNY MEMES

Supreme Court Strikes Down Arizona Voter Law That Required Proof Of Citizenship

Proposition 200, Arizona’s 2004 law making it mandatory for would-be voters to provide proof of their citizenship, died before the U.S. Supreme Court today.

The Court ruled that Arizona does not command the jurisdiction to set requirements for voting in Federal elections. That jurisdiction, according to a 7-2 majority opinion, belongs to the Feds, as set forth in the National Voter Registration Act of 1993.

That law does require that voters provide a valid form of identification at their polling place, but it doesn’t require a proof of citizenship. The Arizona law had ordered the State’s poll workers to turn away anyone who didn’t accompany a valid ID with a recognized document proving their citizenship.

Arizona v. Tribal Council of Arizona, the lawsuit that landed the case before the Supreme Court, was originally brought against the State by a number of American Indian tribes with help from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), all of whom argued that Proposition 200’s additional documentation requirements discriminated against citizens whose ancestry made it disproportionately difficult and expensive to obtain documentation, such as birth certificates, that demonstrate citizenship.

The Court’s majority opinion also affirmed the groups’ argument that Congress, and not the States, holds the authority for regulating Federal elections.

Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas cast the two dissenting votes. Alito argued in his minority opinion that the Constitution tasks the States – and not Congress – with the authority to establish qualifications for voters, as well as to regulate Federal voter registration.

GOP Death Spiral; China Demands Answers On Web Spying; Big Sis Says Says Big Whoop To NSA Scandal; Digging For Hoffa; Composting – Bloomy’s New Nannyism: Monday Morning News Roundup 6-17-2013

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.

  • South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham is saying the GOP is “in a demographic death spiral” that will jeopardize the party’s 2016 Presidential bid, unless it goes along now with immigration reform. He’s also predicting the current reform bill will pass the Senate with 70 votes. Source: CBS DC…
  • Big Sis says there’s nothing to see here: Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano weighed in on the National Security Agency intelligence leaks on Friday, saying that fears over government surveillance were overblown. Source: Politicker 
  • Spy vs. Spy: China made its first substantive comments on Monday to reports of U.S. surveillance of the Internet, demanding that Washington explain its monitoring programs to the international community. Source: Reuters… 
  • Acting on a tip, Federal agents are digging up a field today in Northern Oakland Township, a Detroit suburb, in hopes of finding the remains of famously disappeared Teamster boss Jimmy Hoffa, who was last seen nearly four decades ago. Source: CBS Detroit
  • New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has a new fixation: composting. He’s piloting a new, voluntary residential trash-sorting program he hopes to make mandatory after a “successful” trial period. Source: New York Times…

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

‘Kitty Heaven’: Ohio ‘Humane’ Officer Shoots Five Kittens As Kids Watch, Mom Pleads

A retired police sergeant now working part time as a humane officer for the City of North Ridgeville, Ohio, Police Department was dispatched last Monday to the home of a local couple who’d called to report a litter of feral kittens that had taken up residence in a woodpile in their back yard.

The woman who placed the call said the animals were a nuisance, bringing fleas and dead animals onto her property. Her husband also said the mother cat had been a nuisance for several years, but had grown especially fierce and protective of her litter and resisted his efforts to remove the kittens.

Like most people who call the humane society to remove feral dogs and cats, the couple assumed animal control would simply come and take them, leaving their fate to the vicissitudes of luck at the local shelter. They knew that some form of euthanasia would probably end their lives.

They weren’t expecting Humane Officer Barry Accorti’s brand of euthanasia, though.

Accorti responded at the residence, one of dozens of homes in a densely built subdivision just southwest of Cleveland. The mother and her four children were at home. The kids were upstairs as mom talked with Accorti outside. She told local TV station WKYC:

My heart breaks for my kids, and other kids who have to see this story. He told me the shelters were pretty much full and that they would be going to kitty heaven. My immediate thought was my kids who were upstairs seeing it. My 6-year-old came downstairs, and was crying, “Mommy, Mommy, he shot the kitty.”

The shooting took place right there on the property, just 15 feet away from a house where unprepared kids watched from the windows. The mom originally though the firearm Accorti had gone to his truck to retrieve was a tranquilizer gun. But when Accorti returned with a .22 pistol (not his Glock .45 service pistol) and allegedly told her he “wasn’t supposed to be doing this, but it was justifiable” before heading toward the woodpile, she understood what was going on.

The five 8- to 10-week-old kittens all died, but the mother cat fled.

After massive backlash, North Ridgeville Police Chief Michael Freeman issued a statement on the department’s Facebook page (which, though jammed with complaints and unavailable late in the week, was captured earlier by several online news outlets and humane groups). The statement explains the rationale for Accorti’s actions and finds no fault with them:

…The complainant explained she felt overwhelmed due to the fact that her children were inside the residence and heard the gunshots.

The complainant urged better communication in the future. NRPD recognizes the concerns of those who believe feral cats should not be killed for simply trying to survive but also acknowledges other research that recognizes the risks associated with these animals and the need to manage feral cats. Research and other animal organizations accept shooting as an acceptable means of euthanasia.

After visiting the scene, talking with the responding officer and re-interviewing the complainant, I have decided his actions were appropriate and have decided not to impose any disciplinary measures for the incident. We will talk with the humane officers about improving their communications with the public. We are here to help those who seek our assistance. Our agency prides itself on not telling people, “It’s not our problem or there is nothing we can do for you.” This would be the easy way out. To walk away and leave a safety issue unresolved is irresponsible. At no time does this agency condone or allow the indiscriminate killing of animals, but we will continue to assist residents when there is a safety or nuisance condition.

Shooting feral animals as a means of euthanasia is hardly a philosophical issue or policy quibble for many rural and suburban animal control departments. But doing so in a controlled environment — one in which the property owner and everyone occupying the property are informed and afforded an opportunity to keep a safe distance — is. These weren’t coyotes on someone’s back 40; they were kittens in a woodpile on a small lot in the middle of a dense neighborhood.

Accorti’s failure to offer any explanation for how he would proceed, coupled with the flippancy of his alleged “kitty heaven” remark (and his confession that he was about to step out of line) don’t factor into the department’s justification for his actions.

Accorti took Tuesday off following the shooting, but was back on the job Wednesday.

Losing Your Memory? Here Are Five Ways To Stay Sharp

How we live plays a big role in how well our memories function, especially as we begin to age. Thankfully, in many cases, it’s relatively easy to prevent or avoid many of the behaviors and choices that chip away at our cognition and ability to recall information, both recent and from the distant past. Here are some tips:

Eat Right

Researchers have found that simple-carbohydrate diets that are high in saturated and trans fats are bad for you in just about every way, and the effect of such unhealthy eating on memory isn’t an exception. Gravitate instead toward whole grains, complex carbohydrates and “good” fats (think unsalted nuts, avocado and salmon).

Sleep Enough

Sleep is restorative; a lack of sleep is destructive. The fascinating connection between insomnia and memory loss — among a host of other maladies involving the nervous system — is well documented. Part of the effect of insufficient sleep is secondary, as it results in a lack of waking focus and concentration. But getting too little sleep (or disrupted sleep that doesn’t adequately rest your body and mind) can also have a direct effect on memory loss, especially among the elderly.

Stay Hydrated

Dehydration or chronic under-hydration, like sleep deprivation, negatively affects memory more acutely as you age. The good news is that drinking more water is a simple fix. Even better, drinking plenty of water can actually reverse the effects of dehydration-related memory loss. The ongoing public discussion over how much water a person should drink is as divided as ever, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t make a conscientious evaluation of whether you’re getting enough water. Try for eight cups per day or more, interspersed throughout the entire day. It’s an easy habit to pick up.

Don’t Smoke

This is the biggie. Unfortunately, the behavioral change that yields some of the biggest general health benefits is also one of the hardest to embrace, if you’re a habitual or addicted smoker. Memory (and other cognitive function) relies on an abundant supply of oxygen to the brain. Smoking not only constricts the blood vessels that supply oxygen to the brain, but it also introduces toxins like toluene that have their own directly detrimental effects on mental acuity and memory. A decline in the ability to recall names and faces has also been linked to smoking. There are a lot of smoking-cessation options out there, all with varying benefits and drawbacks, as well as a number of smoking analogues (like e-cigarettes) that are too new for researchers to have confidently assessed for their potential effects on long-term health. Whatever option you choose, though, the bottom line is simple: Quit.

Take Your Vitamins

A study of 700 people aged 60 to 74 revealed that, by taking folic acid and B12 supplements for two years, older people could improve their performance on both short- and long-term memory tests than a control group who took placebos. A lack of B12, in particular, can account for dramatic drops in energy, memory and other problems of the central nervous system. But people over the age of 50 who have a B12 deficiency have been shown to respond well to B12 supplements.