A Christmas Opportunity For Unity

Political tensions at home and abroad sometimes cause us to forget that as human beings — no matter our backgrounds, beliefs or ambitions — we are all in this together. Bitter partisan bickering over domestic policy has the potential to ruin families and friendships and make us hate complete strangers. And propagandized reports from abroad can lead us to view entire populations of people with disdain.

There will always be evil in the world. No amount of scientific research or religious study will ever reveal to us a definitive answer as to exactly why that is. But for the vast majority of us, life is about families, friendships and personal goals; things, in a perfect world, that would be encumbered only by the stresses of basic survival.

This, however, is not a perfect world. We are each subject to political quarreling amplified by the always-on media and sanctioned by motive-driven people in positions of power close to home and all over the world. Many of us remain engaged in a constant battle of Us versus Them which we are encouraged by leaders and pundits to live out in almost every aspect of our lives.

We are citizens versus aliens.

We are Republicans versus Democrats versus Libertarians.

We are conservatives versus liberals.

We are religious versus non-religious.

We are Americans versus non-Americans.

We are ethnicity versus ethnicity, race versus race, religion versus religion, gay versus straight, man versus woman, young versus old and everything in-between.

America is polarized and, in fact, the whole of the world is. But what should remain above all: We are all humans. The vast majority of us share the same love for those closest to us, the same pain for the loss of those loved ones and the same want for the best possible outcomes in life. We all require food, water, shelter and clothing; and we all do what we feel we must to acquire those things. Some of us seem obviously misguided in our pursuits; but in one way or another, we all are.

In the weeks leading up to the holidays, there was much anxiety throughout the Nation as people who care for one another, but often share diametrically opposed political opinions, prepared to gather for festive fun. College students will have come home, often only to turn their grandparents’ faces red with newfound liberalism. To everyone’s dismay, drunken uncles will proffer confused renditions of political talking points from the most extreme and misguided pundits of either right or leftist philosophies. Family members and friends, perhaps having imbibed one too many, may get into heated and worthless political quarrels.

But a better option would be to leave the political discussions alone — not because they are unimportant, but because they are far less important than the camaraderie of those around you. There may come a time when policies cooked up in Washington no longer matter; basic survival and cherished relationships might then be all that remain. The shift would likely move us all closer to the prospect of a more perfect world.

If you think it is impossible to lay aside staunch political beliefs, consider the often-repeated story of the remarkable Christmas Truce of 1914, at the height of World War I.

Nearly 100,000 soldiers — mostly British and German — on Europe’s Western Front allowed for one silent night in the midst of a war that would eventually claim 14 million lives.

In 2005, The New York Times compiled a series of excerpts from the letters, journals and memoirs of the men who were there:

The truce broke out spontaneously in many places. Pvt. Albert Moren of the Second Queens Regiment recalled the scene on Christmas Eve near the French village of La Chapelle d’Armentières:

It was a beautiful moonlit night, frost on the ground, white almost everywhere; and about 7 or 8 in the evening there was a lot of commotion in the German trenches and there were these lights -I don’t know what they were. And then they sang “Silent Night” – “Stille Nacht.” I shall never forget it, it was one of the highlights of my life. I thought, what a beautiful tune.

Rifleman Graham Williams of the Fifth London Rifle Brigade recalled how the mood spread:

Then suddenly lights began to appear along the German parapet, which were evidently make-shift Christmas trees, adorned with lighted candles, which burnt steadily in the still, frosty air! … First the Germans would sing one of their carols and then we would sing one of ours, until when we started up “O Come, All Ye Faithful” the Germans immediately joined in singing the same hymn to the Latin words Adeste Fideles. And I thought, well, this is really a most extraordinary thing – two nations both singing the same carol in the middle of a war.

The shared carols inspired Capt. Josef Sewald of Germany’s 17th Bavarian Regiment to make a bold gesture:

I shouted to our enemies that we didn’t wish to shoot and that we make a Christmas truce. I said I would come from my side and we could speak with each other. First there was silence, then I shouted once more, invited them, and the British shouted “No shooting!” Then a man came out of the trenches and I on my side did the same and so we came together and we shook hands – a bit cautiously!

The enemies quickly became friends, as Cpl. John Ferguson of the Second Seaforth Highlanders recalled:

We shook hands, wished each other a Merry Xmas, and were soon conversing as if we had known each other for years. We were in front of their wire entanglements and surrounded by Germans – Fritz and I in the center talking, and Fritz occasionally translating to his friends what I was saying. We stood inside the circle like street corner orators. … What a sight – little groups of Germans and British extending almost the length of our front! Out of the darkness we could hear laughter and see lighted matches, a German lighting a Scotchman’s cigarette and vice versa, exchanging cigarettes and souvenirs.

On Christmas Day, some Germans and British held a joint service to bury their dead. Second Lt. Arthur Pelham Burn of the Sixth Gordon Highlanders was there:

Our Padre … arranged the prayers and psalms, etc., and an interpreter wrote them out in German. They were read first in English by our Padre and then in German by a boy who was studying for the ministry. It was an extraordinary and most wonderful sight. The Germans formed up on one side, the English on the other, the officers standing in front, every head bared.

According to several accounts, soccer games were played in no man’s land with makeshift balls that Christmas. Lt. Kurt Zehmisch of Germany’s 134th Saxons Infantry Regiment witnessed a match:

Eventually the English brought a soccer ball from their trenches, and pretty soon a lively game ensued. How marvelously wonderful, yet how strange it was. The English officers felt the same way about it. Thus Christmas, the celebration of Love, managed to bring mortal enemies together as our friends for a time.

Second Lt. Bruce Bairnsfather of the First Warwickshires saw an even more unusual fraternization:

The last I saw of this little affair was a vision of one of my machine gunners, who was a bit of an amateur hairdresser in civilian life, cutting the unnaturally long hair of a docile Boche, who was patiently kneeling on the ground while the automatic clippers crept up the back of his neck.

Not everyone was so charitable. Cpl. Adolf Hitler of the 16th Bavarians lambasted his comrades for their unmilitary conduct:

Such things should not happen in wartime. Have you Germans no sense of honor left at all?

When Gen. Sir Horace Smith-Dorrien, commander of the British II Corps, learned of the consorting, he was irate:

I have issued the strictest orders that on no account is intercourse to be allowed between the opposing troops. To finish this war quickly, we must keep up the fighting spirit and do all we can to discourage friendly intercourse.

Inevitably, both sides were soon ordered back to their trenches. Capt. Charles “Buffalo Bill” Stockwell of the Second Royal Welch Fusiliers recalled how the peace ended early on Dec. 26:

At 8:30, I fired three shots into the air and put up a flag with “Merry Christmas” on it on the parapet. He [a German] put up a sheet with “Thank You” on it, and the German captain appeared on the parapet. We both bowed and saluted and got down into our respective trenches, and he fired two shots into the air, and the war was on again.

We’re all in this together, regardless of what media pundits, power-hungry leaders and motive-driven lobbyists have to say.

Merry Christmas from the offices of Personal Liberty Digest™.

Student Santa Suspended

A Georgia high school student was visited by police and suspended from school last week after posting on his Facebook profile: “Students of cchs ur in for a big surprise tomorrow <let the games begin>”

John George, a sophomore at Crawford County High School, had made plans to dress up as Santa Claus and hand out candy at the school first thing in the morning. But parents and police officers who viewed the post took it as a threat in the wake of the horrific school shooting in Connecticut.

“As soon as we got to school we were going to meet up in the bathroom and get dressed and then go to the gym and give out candy canes and chill with our other friends,” John told a local news station.

But before he could carry out the plot, police arrived on the young man’s doorstep.

“We then spoke briefly about the nature of the post and how with the recent tragedy of school shootings that had occurred that the post could cause unrest if taken the wrong way. We then left the residence without further incident,” the police report stated.

No charges were filed, but when John returned to school he was promptly suspended. School officials said his words were “disturbing” and described his Facebook profile as having a “very Gothic and dark theme.”

Monday News Roundup 12-24-2012— Merry Christmas!

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.

 

 

  • The NYPD is working on coming up with new ways to identify potential mass shooters before they act. One plan involves using algorithms on the Internet that would search for terms mass shooters have used in emails in the past.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Check back for updates, news and analysis throughout the day. Like us on Facebook.

Americans Hanging Onto Their Jobs Longer

Many Americans who would likely prefer to abandon their jobs in search of something better are increasingly grateful to simply be employed and are hanging onto their jobs longer due to a shaky economic outlook.

Census Bureau data indicates that average job tenure was the highest in 2012 that it has been since the early 1980s, according to Bloomberg.

In 2000, when hiring was strong, the average amount of time Americans older than 25 spent working a job was 4.7 years. Today, most Americans in the same demographic can be expected to hang on to a job for 5.4 years on average.

From the Bureau of Labor Statistics Employee Tenure Summary: “Median employee tenure varied by age. Older workers tend to have more years of tenure than their younger counterparts. For example, the median tenure for employees age 65 and over was 10.3 years in January 2012, over three times the tenure for workers age 25 to 34 (3.2 years). More than half of all workers age 55 and over were employed for at least 10 years with their current employer in January 2012, compared with 13 percent of workers age 30 to 34.”

BLS also notes that lifelong positions with a single employer are becoming an increasingly uncommon among American workers. This poses important questions about whether those just entering the workforce will have ample opportunity to plan for retirement.

NIH Spends $500 Million Because It Wasn’t Diverse Enough

The National Institutes of Health produced a study last year proclaiming disparity between the number of black researchers who were awarded grants from the institute and the number of white and Hispanic applicants who won grants. Government responded, allocating $500 million in funding to help more black biomedical researchers get NIH grants.

The NIH said it recognized through its study that black applicants were 10 percent less likely to receive its grants than whites or Hispanics, saying “the quality of educational and mentoring experiences may differ for applicants who self-identify as black or African-American.” Furthermore, the NIH said that there were an alarmingly low number of non-white research applicants in general.

To make sure that the agency hands out more grants to minorities, NIH officials have implemented a sort of in-house affirmative action plan. They created a 10-year plan that will dedicate $50 million annually to support hundreds of minority students with scholarships, research experiences and even graduate loan repayment. The agency has also promised to make diversity a core consideration of NIH governance” and ensure fairness in the peer review system that erases “unconscious bias related to disparities in research awards.”

In 2009, the same agency commissioned a study, costing taxpayers nearly half a million dollars, to better understand why men don’t like to wear condoms during sexual intercourse.

Happy Friday, Merry Christmas News Roundup 12-21-2012

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.

  • Wikileaks founder Julian Assange announced that his organization will release 1 million documents over the next year.

 

  • Along with calls for gun control here, leaders in communist China are also calling for Americans to be disarmed.

 

 

 

  • The Russian parliament has approved a bill to prevent Americans from adopting children from the country.

 

 

  • Washington journalist Jake Tapper, who sometimes ruffles the feathers of the Presidential Administration, is leaving ABC News for CNN, where he will become the anchor of a new daily news program.

 

Check back for updates, news and analysis throughout the day. Like us on Facebook.

School Officials, Parents Forced To Be Preppers

Schools throughout the Nation re-evaluated security policies in the days following the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut. And while media did what they could to portray the shooter’s mother, Nancy Lanza, as an off-the-rails “doomsday prepper,” many parents and school officials throughout the Nation have seemingly become preppers themselves.

School officials throughout the Nation have spent the past several days re-evaluating school security measures and asking themselves if lockdown drills conducted in the past sufficiently prepare school officials to deal with the terrifying possibility of an armed intruder on campus.

According to NBC, teachers at many schools throughout the Nation have been asked to answer a four-question safety survey to get a better overview of how safe America’s classrooms are: “Do you have only one entry way to your campus? Can you close your classroom curtains and completely cover your windows? Does your classroom door have an inside locking mechanism? When was the last time you practiced a lockdown drill?”

Some school districts, responding to outcry from local residents, are considering implementing new school safety measure involving local police and community involvement.

In the city of Cullman, Ala., — more than 1,000 miles from where the Connecticut massacre occurred — school Superintendent Jan Harris has spent the days following the tragedy answering phone calls and letters from concerned community members.

“One grandmother told me she would be willing to guard the doors, and she said she knew a lot of others who would be willing to do the same,” Harris told The Cullman Times. “When I thought about the offers from so many people, I came to the realization that perhaps we’ve been missing a great opportunity to involve retired people in our community with some of our needs in the schools.”

That school district, like others throughout the country, has also been working closely with its local police department to beef up patrols in school zones in the wake of the tragedy.

Officials of the Pasco school district in Florida ordered preparedness items before the events that unfolded last Friday. The items have become subject to National attention as talks continue of extended school lockdowns in response to school emergencies. That school district had used Federal grant money to purchase hundreds of emergency portable toilets and sanitation kits to be kept in every classroom. Officials said that the purchase was made due to hurricane lockdowns that could keep students bound in safe areas for hours on end. The harsh realization that an active shooter on campus could create lockdown or hostage situations offers new perspective for those who believed the toilets an unnecessary purchase.

Student services director Lizette Alexander said the purchase has helped the district improve its readiness.

“Try not to make it a joke,” Alexander said to a local newspaper covering the bucket toilets. “When it is needed, it is needed terribly. It is not a joke. It is preparedness.”

Other schools are looking to an option that may have once been considered a definite no-go: allowing teachers to train and arm themselves on school property.

There are a handful of schools throughout the Nation that already allow teachers and administrators to carry firearms to work; lawmakers throughout the country are looking to them to consider the possibility of broadening the policies. Oklahoma, Missouri, Minnesota, South Dakota and Oregon are considering policies in Texas, Arizona and six other States that allow teachers to carry guns to school pending written authorization of the school district.

In Harrold, Texas, where the nearest police department is 30 minutes away from the school and officials say it is financially impossible to hire an armed guard, a policy allowing teachers to be armed has been in place for nearly half a decade without incident.

“We don’t have money for a security guard, but this is a better solution,” Superintendent David Thweatt said. “A shooter could take out a guard or officer with a visible, holstered weapon, but our teachers have master’s degrees, are older and have had extensive training. And their guns are hidden. We can protect our children.”

Many parents throughout the country, shaken by the realization that their children could go to school never to return because of senseless violence, are also examining ways to ensure protection.

Companies that manufacture bulletproof armor for backpacks report an unprecedented uptick in sales over the course of the past week. Salt Lake City-based armor company Amendment II reported that it has more orders for the backpack armor than it is able to fill.

“This armor was designed for soldiers, and parents are ordering it for their kids,” said Richard Craig, president and CEO of Amendment II. “Before Friday, we were selling them to law enforcement and military. That changed in the blink of an eye.”

The backpacks, which retail for $300 apiece, were designed for and primarily sold to police and military prior to last Friday. But some companies that sell the bulletproof backpacks report a sales spike of less than one unit a month to order volume that is crashing websites.

Craig, however, told the Orlando Sentinel that parents purchasing the backpacks should explain to their children what situations they could be needed in and why they are purchasing them. The former Air Force veteran said that he and his business partners do not want to profit off of the terrible tragedy, and are currently trying to decide if they want to be a part of selling the items to parents who want them for child protection.

Well, It Looks Like We’re Still Here

The world didn’t end today, and there are likely a handful of more naïve preppers out there who are very disappointed. But for the more reasonable among the survivalist set, prepping for the worst and hoping for the best will continue.

Just for fun, here is a collection of videos to celebrate humanity’s survival of the fabled Mayan doomsday prophecy.

NASA, which has been bombarded in recent weeks with phone calls from people worried about impending doom, explains why nothing happened:

 

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QY_Gc1bF8ds&w=560&h=315]

 

Or if you prefer less science in your explanation, this guy has some interesting things to say:

 

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aFlqVKX2M1Y&w=560&h=315]

 

R.E.M’s awesome song for preppers:

 

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z0GFRcFm-aY&w=420&h=315]

 

A remix created by the audio-visual performance group Eclectic Method which combines end of the world moments from a number of major motion pictures:

 

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VB2BNnwuYhk&w=560&h=315]

 

Here are a few other doomsday prophecies that we survived:

Prophecy Of A Witch Hunter

Puritan Preacher and Salem Witch Trial enabler Cotton Mather, who preached at the First Church of Boston, got into the business of predicting doomsdays after he finished outing witches. He told his flock on no fewer than four occasions that he had definitively figured out the year of humanity’s demise. Mather predicted TEOTWAWKI in 1697 then moved the date to 1736 when it didn’t happen. He later revised his prediction to 1716 and moved it to 1717 when that didn’t happen. Mather stopped predicting doomsdays in 1728 when he met his own demise.

Prophetic Eggs

In his book Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds, 19th century writer Charles Mackay writes of a doomsday prophecy delivered via the eggs of a hen in Leeds, England:

A panic terror of the end of the world seized the good people of Leeds and its neighbourhood in the year 1806. It arose from the following circumstances. A hen, in a village close by, laid eggs, on which were inscribed the words, “Christ is coming.” Great numbers visited the spot, and examined these wondrous eggs, convinced that the day of judgment was near at hand. Like sailors in a storm, expecting every instant to go to the bottom, the believers suddenly became religious, prayed violently, and flattered themselves that they repented them of their evil courses. But a plain tale soon put them down, and quenched their religion entirely. Some gentlemen, healing of the matter, went one fine morning, and caught the poor hen in the act of laying one of her miraculous eggs. They soon ascertained beyond doubt that the egg had been inscribed with some corrosive ink, and cruelly forced up again into the bird’s body. At this explanation, those who had prayed, now laughed, and the world wagged as merrily as of yore.

A Great Disappointment

Later, American Baptist preacher William Miller had a dream that the second coming of Christ and the fulfillment of the Book of Revelation was near. After some reluctance to announce a date, he settled on telling his followers that Christ would return on October 22, 1844. What ensued became known as The Great Disappointment.

 

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0ive-vWKGNU&w=560&h=315]

 

Heaven’s Gate

More recently in 1997, police discovered 39 members of the Heaven’s Gate cult dead in a mansion on a hill in Del Mar, Calif. The individuals had committed ritual suicide because of the claims of their leader Marshall Applewhite, who believed the Earth was about to be recycled by its cosmic masters. Applewhite and his followers believed that the approaching Hale-Bopp comet slated to pass near Earth on the date had a spaceship traveling in its tail upon which they could hitch a ride if they killed themselves at the right moment.

Y2K

Some people, believing that computers couldn’t handle the jump from 1999 to 2000, took to bunkers on Dec. 31, 1999. Others cashed in all of their investments and subsequently lost money when the changing date didn’t shut down financial institutions or cause planes to fall from the sky.

The Ramblings Of Harold Camping

California-based Christian radio broadcaster claimed last year to have discovered the exact date of “The Rapture” using a Bible-based numerology. He expected that on May 21, 2011, about 200 million Christians would leave the planet. Later, on October 21, 2011, the entire universe was supposed to go up in flames. Some of Camping’s followers are still waiting in anticipation of the end.

 

Thursday Morning News Roundup 12-20-2012

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.

  • Members of the media who failed to follow the official narrative at a White House press conference are being heavily criticized by their peers.
  • Speculation has arisen that Adam Lanza’s deadly rampage was the result of his mother’s pushing him to leave home.
  • NASA is being overwhelmed by phone calls from people worried that the Mayan doomsday theory will come to fruition on Friday.
  • The Internal Revenue Service is expecting massive delays in tax filings due to the fiscal cliff negotiations.
  • Members of Congress want to know why the Justice Department feels the need to store massive amounts of data on nearly every American.

Check back for updates, news and analysis throughout the day. Like us on Facebook.

Boehner’s House Is Not Fically Conservative

House Speaker John Boehner’s 112th House of Representatives has in just 20 months approved legislation that has increased the National debt by $2,176,949,774,695.46.

Boehner and his group of lawmakers have raised every American household’s share of the debt by $18, 944, according to a recent article in CNS.

From the article:

On March 1, 2011, Boehner and President Barack Obama cut their first short-term federal spending deal. That deal took effect on March 4, 2011. Since then all new borrowing and spending by the federal government has been approved in laws enacted by Boehner’s House consistent with its constitutional power to control the borrowing and spending by the federal government.

At the close of business on March 4, 2011, when the first Boehner-Obama deal took effect, the federal government’s debt was $14,182,627,184,881.03, according to the U.S. Treasury. As of the close of business on Friday, Dec. 14, 2012, the federal government’s debt was $16,359,576,959,576.49.

Meanwhile, Boehner is working to pass a bill that would raise taxes on millionaires but extend tax cuts for everyone else. He said that if the President rejects the plan, the largest tax increase in American history will take place.

“The President will have a decision to make. He can call on the Senate Democrats to pass our bill, or he can be responsible for the largest tax increase in American history,” Boehner told reporters yesterday.

To the dismay of many conservatives who believed the GOP would hold strong to fiscally conservative ideals in the fiscal cliff debate, the plan Boehner is pushing is one originally proposed by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

Media Blame All But The Guilty

Soon after the details of Adam Lanza’s heinous and purely evil criminal actions at Sandy Hook Elementary School were revealed, Americans largely decided that the political conversations that would inevitably result should be held off until the small bodies of the vile murderer’s victims had at least been removed from the school.

Conservative commentators and gun-rights advocates mostly did just that. In fact, in spite of the “what do you have to say for yourselves know” sneering from some on the left, the National Rifle Association refused to comment on the tragedy until Tuesday.

When the NRA did release a statement after five days of shouting from those opposed to the organization, here’s what it said:

The National Rifle Association of America is made up of four million moms and dads, sons and daughters — and we were shocked, saddened and heartbroken by the news of the horrific and senseless murders in Newtown. Out of respect for the families, and as a matter of common decency, we have given time for mourning, prayer and a full investigation of the facts before commenting. The NRA is prepared to offer meaningful contributions to help make sure this never happens again.

While the NRA has avoiding making political statements about the tragedy, the organization has no choice but to prepare to battle an onslaught of anti-gun legislation slated to be introduced over the next several months.

This is because while the NRA turned off its media microphone, President Barack Obama, several members of Congress (some of whom are exceptionally pro-gun) and members of the media doubled down on blaming everyone and everything for the bloodshed but the sick child-murderer.

American Prepper Network founder Tom Martin explained the phenomenon beautifully in a blog post following the tragedy:

Who is to blame? As with any tragic story of this sort, first come the reports of the attack, followed by prayers for the victims, followed by background information on the attacker, and then comes the blame game. Who was the attacker and why did he do this? What weapon did he use? Guns? What kinds of guns? Where did he get those guns? Who taught him to shoot? Blame will often be thrust upon the parents, and then maybe bullies at school who may have contributed to who this attacker became. Maybe blame will be thrust upon his friends, or the community for not treating him right as he grew up. What about violent video games, movies and TV shows? Society and people around the attacker will often catch the blame. But how often is blame fully put on the murderous evil attackers themselves?

Martin and his organization likely would have had no reason to publicly comment on the tragedy had it not been for the media-fueled blame game. Mixed into the misinformation spread after the murders, Nancy Lanza, killed by her son and unable to retort, was painted as being affiliated with a “loosely organized network of gun enthusiasts, back-to-the-land types and the generically cautious.” That is how the mainstream media describe American preppers.

In a piece published by Salon writer Katie McDonough, the writer glanced over the organization’s website long enough to copy and paste a few of the group’s “Five Principles of Preparedness.”

The principle categories include the following headings:

1)      Practice thrift and frugality

2)      Seek to be independent

3)      Become industrious

4)      Strive toward self-reliance

5)      Aspire to have a year’s supply of every needful thing

The five principles advocate nothing but tips on how to achieve the utmost sense of personal and social responsibility. You can read them in their entirety here.

But the Salon writer deducted the following from the APN’s five principles:

Statements aside, preppers undoubtedly attract a fringe element. The APN site talks often and explicitly about “The End of the World As We Know It,” which it refer to as TEOTWAWKI. And judging from the abundance of videos and blogs of self-identified preppers arming themselves while touting conspiracies about government, financial collapse and the apocalypse, it’s clear this isn’t strictly a peaceful movement of people hoarding canned goods.

Preppers don’t just stockpile nonperishables — they collect weapons. Like Nancy Lanza, who owned five guns — three of which were used in the Sandy Hook massacre — preppers believe having weapons is just as important as having enough water.

Because McDonough was either on too tight a deadline or too lazy to speak to an actual member of the APN, which caused her to make fallacious assumptions about preparedness buffs, Personal Liberty sought an interview with a prepper and APN volunteer to clear a few things up.

APN volunteer, self-described prepper and Ham radio operator Robert Hawkins answered the phone when we called a number related to APN. Though Hawkins did not speak directly on behalf of APN, he offered his perspective as an individual prepper and a volunteer in the group.

“In my opinion,” Hawking said. “The media-sensationalized feeding frenzy that is going on right now is targeting preppers because people are desperately grasping for an answer to why this young man would do something like this. Preppers have been thrown to the forefront of the discussion because of some media mention that his mother was involved in prepping.”

Hawking pointed out that it was unfortunate that the media, not understanding much about what it actually means to be a prepper, had attempted to portray Lanza’s mother as possibly unhinged when she was just as much of a victim of his killing spree as the children at Sandy Hook Elementary.

A prepper is explained by many to be a more mainstream equivalent to the traditional off-the-grid survivalist. The APN does not advocate any one aspect of prepping or survival. For instance, it doesn’t advocate gun ownership or food storage outright, but rather encourages Americans to learn the skills necessary to handle any situation. Once the skills are acquired, most people can then come to informed decisions about what they should have on hand at all times.

That is a big sticking point for members like Hawking, who believes the way preppers are being described currently in mainstream media and popular culture is completely off base.

“What we’re all about is self-reliance. It is about making an individual effort to provide for yourself what you need to get along,” he said. “It isn’t about preparing against invasion, government takeovers or zombies.”

Hawking explained that in his view, prepping had more to do with little, everyday things.

“The idea nowadays that everyone has to rely on some kind of outside support is totally false,” he said. “You can maintain quite comfortably many modern necessities with very little more than your own knowledge and preparation. That’s what it is about to me, the ‘how-to’ aspect of prepping and how it can help people in their everyday lives.”

Hawking doesn’t deny that a fringe element could be drawn to being a prepper. But he says that more often than not, people who simply want to safeguard themselves against the poor economy and rising prices are the preppers he meets.

As for McDonough’s assertion that preppers believe having weapons is just as important as having enough water, according to Hawking, it is nonsense.

“I know preppers who don’t own guns, who don’t like guns and who don’t feel they have a need to own a gun,” he said, re-emphasizing that prepping is about more about everyday self-reliance and less about stockpiling rations and munitions.

Hawking believes that the negative media representations of preppers will eventually stop as more Americans learn the benefits of becoming more self-reliant.

“Most people are rational enough to understand that the media’s portrayal of preppers is distorted,” he said, noting that most often preppers are the people who are out helping in the community when something bad happens, not social recluses living in bunkers with piles of guns.

As an aside, it was reported yesterday that Adam Lanza was a vegan; media hasty generalizations about the possibility of being vegan making one violent were noticeably absent.

Wednesday Morning News Roundup 12-19-2012

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.

  • Creepy. Parents who lose children in accidents may be able to clone “copies” to replace them within 50 years, a British scientist who won this year’s Nobel Prize in medicine has predicted.
  • Speaker of the House John Boehner says it’s time for “Plan B” in the tax debate. The lawmaker claims he is trying to save as many Americans as possible from higher taxes.
  • There is speculation that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has been faking illness to get out of testifying on the Benghazi, Libya, terror attacks.

Check back for updates, news and analysis throughout the day. Like us on Facebook.

Growing Number Of Children Born Out Of Wedlock

A new study conducted by the National Marriage Project and the Institute for American Values finds that a growing number of children are now born to unwed parents.

The study, entitled “State of Our Unions,” focused on the 60 percent of Americans who graduated from high school but did not finish college, a demographic the researchers refer to as “middle-America.”

In that group, 44 percent of children are now born outside of marriage; that’s up from 13 percent in the 1980s.

“Marriage in Middle America is at a tipping point, with unwed childbearing threatening to become a new norm,” said report co-author W. Bradford Wilcox, director of the National Marriage Project and a professor of sociology at the University of Virginia.

The researchers say that children in the growing demographic are at increased risk for lifelong hardship.

“The children of Middle America, already vulnerable to economic challenges in their communities, are exposed to even greater risks when their parents are unable to form and sustain a healthy marriage,” said report lead author Elizabeth Marquardt, director of the Center for Marriage and Families at the Institute for American Values.

The Institute for American Values recommends increasing government incentives and education about marriage in order to reverse the trend. Some of the suggestions include:

  • Eliminating marriage penalties and disincentives for the poor, for unwed mothers and for older Americans, including lesser-known disincentives present in current Medicaid and Social Security policies.
  • Tripling the child tax credit to shore up the economic foundations of family life in middle-America.
  • Investing in and evaluating marriage and relationship education programs.
  • Engaging Hollywood, much as the anti-smoking movement did, to help shape positive American attitudes toward marriage and parenting.

The representatives of the organization say that the measures would save taxpayer dollars in the long run. They cite one study in particular that calculated reducing family fragmentation by just 1 percent would save $1.1 billion annually as fewer children repeat grades, are suspended from school, require counseling or attempt suicide.

Poll: Americans Want A Fiscal Cliff Deal Without Spending Cuts

A new poll indicates that a majority of Americans want to have their cake and eat it, too.

An ABC News-Washington Post poll released yesterday indicates that a majority of Americans want to avoid the coming fiscal cliff, but are largely opposed to necessary spending cuts that would emerge from an agreement between President Barack Obama and Congress.

Respondents to the poll indicated that they favor a mixture of tax hikes and spending cuts in averting the financial calamity. They, however, remained opposed to any cuts to military or Medicaid spending. Sixty-five percent of those polled said that the Federal government should work out a deal that both raises taxes and cuts spending. But 55 percent of the same respondents said that lawmakers should avoid cuts to military spending and 68 percent opposed Medicaid cuts.

The poll also indicated that broader entitlement reforms are unpopular with the majority of Americans. Sixty percent of those polled said they are against raising the Medicare eligibility age; the same number did not support restructuring Social Security to slow rate increases.

Thirty-one percent of the respondents described themselves as Democrats, 24 percent Republicans and 38 percent claimed to be independents.

Two Possible Mass Shootings Stopped By Armed Americans

As the debate surrounding the proper place of guns in modern America continues, there are stories (understandably overshadowed by the horrific tragedy that occurred last week in Connecticut) that highlight the valuable self-defense aspect of carrying a concealed weapon.

Earlier this month in Casper, Wyo., a man walked into a busy nail salon with the possible intent to rob and harm its patrons. A woman who was getting her nails done at the time saw him pull a weapon and pulled her own.

Here is a report from the Casper Star-Tribune:

Police say about 5:30 p.m. on Dec. 3, a man walked into Modern Nails at 2645 E. Second St. and asked a female employee if she wanted to buy some diamonds. The man walked toward the front desk area and the woman replied that she had no money to buy diamonds.

A witness said the man then reached into his coat pocket and began to take out a silver-colored pistol.

At that moment, a woman who was getting her nails done reached into her purse and got her own firearm. Police say the man never fully raised the gun and left the building after seeing the customer had her weapon out.

On Monday, a gunman entered the China Garden Restaurant in San Antonio, Texas, allegedly looking to do harm to an employee of the establishment. When the employee wasn’t there, police report, the man pulled a gun and attempted to open fire on random patrons of the restaurant. When his gun jammed, patrons fled to a movie theater nearby. The gunman followed and was able to shoot one man in the chest before being neutralized by an off-duty sheriff’s deputy working security at the theater.

Tuesday Morning News Roundup 12-18-2012

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.

  • In the wake of last week’s tragic shooting, Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-Nev.) will add a bill that would ban high capacity magazines to the onslaught of gun control bills sure to be introduced by lawmakers on the left.

 

  • Representative Tony Cornish (R), meanwhile, is prepared to introduce legislation that would allow teachers in his home State of Minnesota to carry guns to school.

 

 

 

 

Check back for updates, news and analysis throughout the day. Like us on Facebook.

 

No Time To Disarm America

In the wake of the terrible tragedy that occurred last week at a Connecticut elementary school, the opinions have begun following in from both sides of the gun control debate. The debate is sure to become increasingly fallacious and nasty in coming months as people on both sides make ridiculous claims to support their case.

President Barack Obama spoke over the weekend at a memorial service for the 26 victims of Adam Lanza’s horrifying shooting rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary School. His speech, some people (gun-control advocates, no doubt) gushed, was akin to Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.

Here is part of the President’s speech:

We can’t tolerate this anymore. These tragedies must end. And to end them, we must change. We will be told that the causes of such violence are complex, and that is true. No single law—no set of laws can eliminate evil from the world, or prevent every senseless act of violence in our society.

But that can’t be an excuse for inaction. Surely, we can do better than this. If there is even one step we can take to save another child, or another parent, or another town, from the grief that has visited Tucson, and Aurora, and Oak Creek, and Newtown, and communities from Columbine to Blacksburg before that—then surely we have an obligation to try.

In the coming weeks, I will use whatever power this office holds to engage my fellow citizens—from law enforcement to mental health professionals to parents and educators—in an effort aimed at preventing more tragedies like this. Because what choice do we have? We can’t accept events like this as routine. Are we really prepared to say that we’re powerless in the face of such carnage, that the politics are too hard? Are we prepared to say that such violence visited on our children year after year after year is somehow the price of our freedom?

The President is prepared to “use whatever power this office holds to engage my fellow citizens” to prevent further tragedies like what occurred in Connecticut. Because, he asserted, Americans must protect the children.

The President’s words are strong, and combined with his past positions there is little doubt that his plan involves launching anything less than a full on assault on Americans’ right to own semi-automatic weapons.

In a USA Today column last week, Glenn Reynolds channeled famed author and renowned gun activist William S. Burroughs in describing what the government’s most likely course of action will be:

“After a shooting spree,” author William Burroughs once said, “they always want to take the guns away from the people who didn’t do it.” Burroughs continued: “I sure as hell wouldn’t want to live in a society where the only people allowed guns are the police and the military.”

Many Americans disagree with Burroughs’ opinion and are pushing for police and military personnel to be society’s sole armed protectors. And in gun-free zones, such as schools and many State and Federal properties, they are.

Those places have also become magnets for crazed gunmen. The cowardly mind-set of a man willing to kill at random — despite the anti-hero persona mainstream media seek to affix to these individuals — doesn’t lend itself well to ballsy attacks on rooms filled with armed men. Instead, they seek out the weakest or most unassuming targets imaginable: moviegoers in a darkened theater, attendees at a political rally, mall shoppers or schoolchildren.

And no matter what utopia the American left believes we inhabit, laws banning (and the all-out confiscation of) even every firearm manufactured will not stop the killing. Those capable of murder believe themselves to be far superior to any laws of man.

Perhaps a better option would involve a lessening of gun laws and an American realization that it is not up to the police, but to the citizen to ensure his own safety.

Speculation is reckless, but it is very tempting to fantasize about how Friday morning may have turned out differently if the school had been full of armed and trained teachers with easy access to firearms.

“Guns in schools, the horror,” liberal Americans might say. They may even venture to believe that frustrated armed teachers could be dangerous to students, though that seems very unlikely given the stories of teacher heroism coming from Connecticut where those educators likely wished they had tools at their disposal to better protect themselves and their students.

In 2008, the isolated Harrold Independent School District in Texas made an addition to its $100,000 state-of-the-art security system because administrators feared an armed intruder could do much damage in the 20 minutes it could take police to arrive. Feeling students and staff would be safer if on-site, trained staff members were equipped to handle a crisis at a moment’s notice, they decided to allow teachers to train and carry firearms to school.

In the years since, no gun has been brandished and no student hurt by an armed teacher. In fact, reports indicate that the students really didn’t have much at all to say about the policy. But the school district’s superintendent David Thweatt made a good point in 2009, a year after the policy went into place.

“We’re the first responders. We have to be,” Thweatt said. “We don’t have 5 minutes. We don’t have 10 minutes. We would have had 20 minutes of hell” if attackers had targeted the school.

Despite the President’s opinions, it is no time for gun rights activists to back off on the fight to keep and bear all legal firearms. We are all our own first responders and the protectors of those in our care who cannot defend themselves.

Let Me See Your Papers

Residents of the Arkansas town of Paragould — population barely 25,000 — will soon begin noticing a constant presence of militarized police patrolling the streets and asking to see pedestrians’ papers.

At a town meeting last week, Paragould Mayor Mike Gaskill and Police Chief Todd Stovall endorsed a plan that would involve police in full SWAT gear brandishing AR-15s roaming streets downtown on a daily basis. The officials cite rising crime rates in the city as the primary reason for visually militarizing police on regular patrols.

According to city-data.com, Paragould has had a property crime index rating more than double the national average since 2007. Rapes, burglaries, thefts and assaults per capita are well above the national average in the city.

“This fear is what’s given us the reason to do this. Once I have stats and people saying they’re scared, we can do this,” Stovall said, according to the Paragould Daily Press. “It allows us to do what we’re fixing to do.”

The officials said that the police would not only be on the lookout for criminal activity, but will also collect ID from anyone and everyone they encounter in the city.

“If you’re out walking, we’re going to stop you, ask why you’re out walking, check for your ID,” the Daily Press reported him saying during last week’s meeting.

“To ask you for your ID, I have to have a reason,” he said. “Well, I’ve got statistical reasons that say I’ve got a lot of crime right now, which gives me probable cause to ask what you’re doing out. Then when I add that people are scared…then that gives us even more [reason] to ask why are you here and what are you doing in this area.”

“They may not be doing anything but walking their dog,” added Gaskill, “but they’re going to have to prove it.”

The officials contend that the policies, set to be rolled out in 2013, will not violate residents’ 4th Amendment rights because it is their “duty and obligation” to find out why crime rates are high and how they can lower them.

Monday Morning News Roundup 12-17-2012

Monday Morning News Roundup 12-17-2012

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.

  • Investors beware: The end of the year fiscal cliff drama is expected to cause volatile swings on Wall Street.

 

  • President Barack Obama’s Sandy aid bill is full of pork. It includes more than $8 million to buy cars and equipment for the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice, $150 million for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to dole out to fisheries in Alaska and $2 million for the Smithsonian Institution to repair museum roofs in Washington.

 

 

 

  • An independent report will be issued to the Department of State today to help officials better understand what happened in Benghazi, Libya, in September.

 

 

  • With the fabled Mayan Apocalypse doomsday date just ahead, some people are preparing for the end of the world this week.

Check back for updates, news and analysis throughout the day. Like us on Facebook.

Financial Industry: Russian Thugs Targeting Online Banking

Lawmakers have been itching to implement far-reaching government Internet controls in the United States for a long time. Now, the Nation’s financial services industry is giving them the boogeyman they need: warnings of a potential threat that Russian “cyber-gangsters” are preparing to rob American banks and their costumers of millions of dollars in the coming year.

Last week the Financial Services Information Sharing and Analysis Center (FS-ISAC), an organization that keeps the financial sector abreast of terror and online threats, issued a warning to financial institutions throughout the nation about the most recent threat to Americans’ money online. The organization indicated that a cyber-criminal with the moniker “Thief-in-Law”—loosely translated from the Russian “vorVzakone”— has set into place a system that will allow him to steal the bank account data of hundreds of unwitting Americans.

“FS-ISAC has sent out several notices warning about this gentleman,” Douglas Johnson, vice president for risk management at the American Bankers Association, told The Washington Times.

Experts at the computer security firm MacAfee assert that “Thief-in-Law” and others like him are likely in the process of infecting American computers with malicious software capable of clandestine collection of passwords and other login information that would grant them access to bank accounts.

The plan, dubbed “Project Blitzkrieg,” is described as an active operation; security experts say they detected up to 500 computers with the malicious software in October and as many as 120 more in November.

According to FS-ISAC, the thieves are mostly targeting customers of investment banks, where large balances are more likely.

As Drug Policies Change, Is There A Conservative Dilemma?

Governments around the world have slowly been recognizing the folly of using prohibition and war on drugs tactics to quell drug related violence, addiction and terroristic drug cartels.

Leaders in the United Kingdom are calling for a reformative look at British drug policy as, despite evidence to the contrary, Prime Minister David Cameron says he believes that his nation’s version of the American war on drugs is “actually working.”

The U.K. Liberal Democrat Party leader Nick Clegg disagrees, saying in a recent interview with The Sun, “We are losing the war on drugs on an industrial scale. If you were waging any other war where you have 2,000 fatalities a year, your enemies are making billions in profits, constantly throwing new weapons at you and targeting more young people – you’d have to say you are losing and it’s time to do something different.”

A report released last week by the House of Commons Home Affairs Committee suggests that U.K. lawmakers should look to South American countries for pointers on drug reform policy.

For decades Latin American countries have suffered because of the U.S.-created War on Drugs. Decades of bloodshed and billions of dollars spent has led a majority of Latin Americans to an emerging consensus that going along with their northern neighbor’s tough drug policies are only helping to embolden cartel criminals.

More practical solutions to the drug problem are being sought by many governments in the region focusing on legalization and regulation rather than outright prohibition, especially with regard to marijuana. In the small republic of Uruguay, government pushed through legislation that makes the state the sole dispenser of marijuana.

Other Latin American countries are following Uruguay’s lead and also calling for drug legalization. Guatemalan leader Otto Perez Molina did so in the U.N. General Assembly, with the support of regional backers such as the cartel-ravaged nations of Mexico and Colombia.

The United States remains the biggest drug market in the Western hemisphere, despite being the birthplace of the war on drugs philosophy. And the Nation’s Federal lawmakers remain opposed to Latin America-style reforms, despite States like California and Washington easing the crackdown on marijuana.

With growing pressure from Latin American governments and State efforts to curb draconian drug policies, the Federal government will have much to prove about the efficacy of its drug war over the next few years. Meanwhile, President Barack Obama’s remarks last Friday indicating that the Federal government “has bigger fish to fry” than going after marijuana users in Colorado and Washington where the drug is now legal serves as a victory to both States’ rights and personal liberty advocates.

Many conservative Americans would likely disagree that marijuana legalization in a handful of States is really a good thing for their movement. But as the GOP increasingly represents a moral-nanny clone of the Democratic Party, the same conservatives that found ridiculous New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s liberty-assaulting ban on big soft drinks will have to decide if the message really is about getting government out of Americans’ lives.  Or does small government only matter when the moral agenda is not in jeopardy?