Research: Homegrown Terror, Lone Wolf Scenario Growing Trend

Over the past decade, attacks and plots by homegrown terrorists in the United States have increased, according to analysis by the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START).

The START research says that 40 percent of terrorist attacks in the United States since 2000 have involved individuals that had no affiliation to a known extremist group. The organization says attacks or attempts were carried out by individuals with a range of ideologies, including anti-abortion extremists, environmental extremists, white supremacists and Islamist extremists.

The research makes note of terrorist activities committed by far-right extremist groups, far-left extremist groups and al-Qaida-influenced groups. The results are as follows:

  • More than 345 homicide incidents were committed by at least one far-rightist between 1990 and 2010.
  • Far-rightists killed almost 50 law enforcement officials between 1990 and 2010.
  • Far-right extremists committed more than 350 “financial schemes” since 1990.
  • Almost 25 fatal incidents have been committed by al-Qaida-inspired extremists since 1990.
  • Al-Qaida-inspired extremists committed close to 100 “financial schemes” since 1990.

The researchers also contend that 80 percent of extremists began their radicalization after the events of 9/11 and the subsequent War on Terrorism; about half of the identified homegrown Islamist extremists come from a middle class background, and most are well-embedded in their host society. According to researchers, only about a quarter of the extremists mentioned are converts to Islam and most attacks or attempts are carried out by “lone-wolf” suspects.

The report comes soon after the Senate voted to place domestic terror investigations and interrogations into the hands of the military, setting the stage for trial-free, indefinite detention of anyone, including American citizens, as long as the government deems them terrorists.

Debate Heavily Watched As Candidates Evolve

The latest GOP Presidential debate held by ABC News was reportedly the most-watched debate so far in the 2012 election season, many of the first-time debate viewers likely saw a discussion much different than earlier debates.

According to The Wrap, if the number of debate viewers is any indicator, Americans are paying more attention to the 2012 GOP election as the first round of primaries draws near.  About 7.6 million people tuned in to watch the candidates discuss the country’s most pressing issues and their plans for improvement.

Newt Gingrich’s rising popularity over the past several weeks appeared to make him a clear target for the other candidates during the Saturday debate.

Representative Ron Paul of Texas ripped Gingrich for earning $1.8 million as a consultant for the government mortgage giant Freddie Mac, which many conservatives have blamed for the housing price crash, saying that Gingrich was paid with “taxpayer money.”

In a moment that drew laughs from the audience and other candidates, Gingrich said he did not lobby for Freddie Mac but provided “strategic advice” during time that he worked in the “private sector.”

“You get to charge money for that,” Gingrich said. “It’s called free enterprise.”

Mitt Romney has drawn criticism because of his offer of a $10,000 bet to Rick Perry that the Texas governor could not prove that he had altered a portion of his book that discussed healthcare mandates. Many have said the offer is proof of Romney’s wealth leaving him disconnected from the average American.

Paul, now considered by many as a mainstream GOP candidate, received more speaking time during the debate than he has in the past, and was complimented by others on the stage. Perry said that he was enlightened by Paul’s views on the Federal Reserve and has become very interested in the central bank in recent months, and Romney complimented the dedication of the Texas representative’s supporters.

Supreme Court To Address Arizona Immigration Law

On Monday, the Supreme Court announced that it will hear a challenge to Arizona’s controversial immigration law (SB 1070), adding to a list of high-profile cases for the court’s coming term.

Arizona asked the court to allow the State to enforce legislation that was blocked after being challenged by the Administration of Barack Obama, including provisions that would enable police officers to question immigration status if they suspect a person is in the country illegally.

“I would like to commend the U.S. Supreme Court for its decision to review and hear arguments pertaining to the federal court injunction,” said Arizona Governor Jan Brewer in a statement. “I am confident the High Court will uphold Arizona’s constitutional authority and obligation to protect the safety and welfare of its citizens.”

The Justice Department contends that the State is encroaching upon its authority because Arizona’s immigration laws are “expressly designed to rival or supplant that of the Federal government,” according to The Hill.

Justice Elena Kagan, former solicitor in the Obama Administration, recused herself from the case.

According to The Associated Press, the court will hear oral arguments in late April.

Rick Perry Gaffes Again

Texas Governor Rick Perry is again being recognized for his poor speaking performance following recent gaffes during Iowa speaking events.

According to The Hill, Perry attempted to take a swing at President Barack Obama’s green energy policy by discussing failed solar company Solyndra that received over $500 million in Federal money. He referred to the company as a country and mispronounced its name in the process.

“No greater example of it than this administration sending millions of dollars into the solar industry, and we lost that money,” he said. “I want to say it was over $500 million that went to the country Solynda.”

The latest small gaffe that has been pointed out by the press can be added to a long list of Perry speaking gaffes, but the Presidential contender acknowledges his speaking troubles.

 “[Voters] aren’t looking for a robot…or someone who’s gonna be perfect in every way. They’re looking for someone who’s got values,” he said on Fox News.

Perry has in the past months confused the minimum voting age with the minimum drinking age, given a speech that led some pundits to believe he was intoxicated, and forgotten how many justices—or as he referred to them, judges—are on the Supreme Court.

The candidate told the Des Moines Register that a back surgery last July has been at the root of his campaign difficulties. Perry underwent experimental surgery on his back in July that involved the fusion of his own adult stem cells into his spine. The procedure is so new that it has yet to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

Alabama Re-Thinking Immigration Law

Backlash from Alabama’s business community has lawmakers in the State re-considering its tough immigration reform law.

The legislation suffered major blows after two foreign employees for Alabama’s prized Honda and Mercedes plants were given trouble during traffic stops.

A German manager with Mercedes-Benz was arrested under the law for not having a driver’s license with him while driving a rental car last month. Early this month, a Honda employee was ticketed at a routine roadblock set up by police even though he had a valid Japanese passport and an international driver’s license.

Mercedes kicked off Alabama’s multibillion dollar automobile industry with its decision to build its first U.S. assembly plant about 40 miles west of Birmingham in 1993. Honda has been building cars and minivans for 10 years in the State.

The recent incidents have the foreign companies wondering if Alabama is anti-foreign investment, a claim that Alabama Governor Robert Bentley flatly denies, according to The Associated Press.

“We are not anti-foreign companies. We are very pro-foreign companies,” he said.

Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange, who has defended the law against the Justice Department, has now recommended repealing sections that make it a crime for an illegal immigrant to fail to carry registration documents and that require public schools to collect information on the immigration status of students.

Taxpayers Paid $240 Million For Male Enhancement Over The Past Decade

Data collected by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) indicates that Medicare has spent more than $240 million of taxpayer money on penis pumps for elderly men over the past decade.

According to Heartlander, between 2001 and 2010 the amount of taxpayer money used by Medicaid to provide “Male Vacuum Erection Systems” to elderly men quadrupled.  In 2001 taxpayers footed the bill for about $11 million toward the purchase of the devices, the number jumped to $47 million in 2010.

Because of the sharp increase in the amount Medicare spends on the devices, many people have raised concerns about fraud. In September, an Illinois man was found guilty of collecting more than $2 million from Medicare in a fraudulent operation that involved repackaging $26 items he bought from adult websites and selling them to seniors as medical devices. He charged Medicare $284 each for the devices.

Because of questions of whether the technology even serves a medical need and the opportunity for fraud, John Nothdurft, director of government relations for The Heartland Institute, questions whether it is prudent for Medicare to pay for the devices.

“At a time when the federal government borrows 43 cents of every dollar it spends, do we really need to be spending money on this? I doubt you need a ‘Super Committee’ to realize that this is the epitome of wasteful spending,” he said.

According to a 2011 report, Medicare spending is expected to grow from 3.6 percent of U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) in 2010 to roughly 10.7 percent of GDP by 2085.

Independents More Important Than Ever

A recent report by think tank Third Way shows that more than 825,000 likely voters in eight key battleground States have fled the Democratic Party since Barack Obama won the Presidential election in 2008.

“The numbers show that Democrats’ path to victory just got harder,” said Lanae Erickson, the report’s co-author. “We are seeing both an increase in independents and a decrease in Democrats and that means the coalition they have to assemble is going to rely even more on independents in 2012 than it did in 2008.”

According to ABC News Radio, in eight vital 2012 electoral States — Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina and Pennsylvania — Democrats lost 5.4 percent of their registered voters, while Republicans lost 3.1 percent. The number of independent voters in those States grew by 3.4 percent at the same time.

“People are frustrated and the way you tune out in American politics is that is you drop the label of the two parties,” said Steven Jarding, a Harvard public policy professor and Democratic campaign strategist. “The danger for Obama in this is he is not only going to have to capture them but capture more of them because there are less Democratic voters.”

Top Republicans Don’t Remember Endorsing Sodomy, Bestiality In Defense Bill

Many Republicans in the Senate seemingly passed the Defense Authorization Bill 93-7 last Thursday without reading, or being fully aware of, its contents.

The bill would authorize $662 billion for military personnel, weapons systems, national security programs in the Energy Department, and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in the fiscal year that began Oct. 1. The bill also contains provisions that would allow for American citizens to be subject to indefinite military detention if they are suspected of terrorist activities.

Neoconservatives have defended the bill as absolutely necessary to protectg the United States from terrorists, but that fails to explain one of its provisions: The repeal of the ban of sodomy and of bestiality within the military.

Asked by CNSNews.com if they were aware of the sodomy-friendly provision, two well-known Republican Senators who worked on the legislation were clueless.

Senator John McCain said to a CNS reporter who asked about the sodomy provision, “I don’t, I don’t know what you’re—honestly.  I read the bill.  And I was there for many hours of deliberation and debate and amendments.  And probably spent hundreds of, several hundred hours on it.  But that particular provision I did not know.  So we’ll have, we’ll get back to you. We’ll get back to you. Just call.”

Senator Lindsey Graham, member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, also had no recollection of endorsing sodomy or bestiality in the military when he voted for the bill and said that it was likely related to the repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.”

House Republicans Offer Payroll Tax Bill

On Friday, House Republicans released their version of a payroll tax cut extension that would also extend unemployment insurance and delay changes to doctors’ Medicare reimbursement rates.

The 369-page bill, called the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2011, is sponsored by Representative  Dave Camp (R-Mich.), the chairman of the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee. The legislation could come up for vote as early as Tuesday, according to The Hill.

Many GOP leaders are confident that the bill has a strong chance to pass, although there is opposition from Democrats and President Barack Obama has indicated that he will veto the bill. Obama’s opposition to the legislation stems from an included provision that forces his Administration to make a permit decision on the Keystone XL oil sands pipeline that he has deferred until after the 2012 election.

The provision directs Obama to grant a permit for the pipeline within 60 days of passage. He is not, however, required to grant the permit if he determines that the pipeline “would not serve the national interest.” In that case, Obama would have 15 days to explain his position to Congress in a report.

The bill also includes measures that would weaken the healthcare reform law by repealing $8 billion in mandatory funding and cutting $34.9 billion for implementing the law, and it seeks to lessen the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to regulate air pollutants released by some industries.

To offset the bill’s cost, the legislation extends a pay freeze for Federal workers, prohibits millionaires from receiving unemployment benefits and food stamps, restricts benefits to illegal immigrants and gradually increases Medicare premiums for the wealthy.

Unrest Grows In Russia

The anti-government movement in Russia is expanding amid strong opposition to the rule of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin after a voting scandal.

About 16,700 people have indicated on Facebook that they have intentions to gather in Revolution Square, near the Kremlin, this Saturday. Another 5,500 people said they would attend a similar protest in St. Petersburg, according to The Guardian.

A disputed parliamentary election result that protesters say fabricated popularity of Putin’s United Russia party sparked the country’s recent civil unrest.

Dmitry Finikov, a Russian election monitor, posted photographs and video online Wednesday showing how election officials at his polling site in central Moscow threw away the official result of the vote, which showed United Russia coming in third with 128 votes, behind the Communists (202) and liberal Yabloko (134). In the final tally, United Russia won the vote at the site.

The police presence throughout Russia has been strengthened, and officials in the country are prepared to quell the unrest. People planning to protest have been warned that the unrest may lead to instances of violence.

Vladimir Milov, a Russian opposition leader, warned people to stay away from the protest on Saturday.

“All this can end in big blood,” he wrote on the website of Ekho Moskvy, a liberal Russian radio station. “This is the most dangerous thing in today’s situation.”