Israel Engages Neighbors In Military Conflict

Israel is on the offensive against “terror targets” with a bombing campaign across the Gaza Strip which the nation’s leaders describe as a forward Iranian base. Some defense analysts believe that the offensive against Gaza and Syria is an Israeli ploy to fast-track war with Iran.

The Israeli military, through an operation dubbed “Pillar of Defense,” embarked on a heavy bombing campaign on the Gaza Strip. Reportedly, attacks on Gaza City carried out by Israeli fighter jets, drones and helicopters resulted in widespread destruction and civilian casualties.

The Israeli strikes on Gaza City targeted and killed Hamas military commander Ahmad Jabari. The Israelis also targeted Raad Atar, another senior Hamas military commander, but he survived the attack, Israeli Ynet reports.

“The purpose of this operation was to severely impair the command and control chain of the Hamas leadership, as well as its terrorist infrastructure. This was a surgical operation in cooperation with the Israeli Security Agency, that was implemented on the basis of concrete intelligence and using advanced capabilities,” a statement from the Israeli Defense Force said.

The strike came after four days of reported rocket fire from Gaza terrorist groups on southern regions of Israel. More than 150 rockets are reported to have been fired from Gaza, damaging homes and factories.

Israel called up its military reservists Wednesday in preparation for a ground invasion of Gaza.

A spokesman for Hamas vowed to wage open war with Israel after the attacks against its leaders “opened the gates of hell.” The organization promises suicide and military attacks against Israeli cities.

The Israeli Defense Force has also been keeping an eye on Syria as what military officials call the “painful disintegration” of the Bashar Assad regime has brought Syrian rebels close to Israeli-held territories. Violence near the Israeli-occupied Golan upset the Jewish state, which fired rockets into Syria twice this week after stray Syrian fire hit its side.

Google: Government Internet Spying On The Rise

A new Transparency Report out from Google shows that world governments increasingly ask the search engine to remove content from the Web and to provide information about users.

This is Google’s sixth transparency report, and the Internet giant says one thing is remarkably clear: Government surveillance is on the rise. The graph below illustrates how government demands for user data have increased steadily since the company first launched the Transparency Report. In the first half of 2012, there were 20,938 inquiries from government entities around the world for information about 34,614 accounts.

Gov't requests for user data

Worldwide government requests for the company to remove data from the Internet also rose in 2012. During the first half of the year, there were 1,791 requests from government officials around the world to remove 17,746 pieces of content.

Gov't requests Google services to remove content

A bulk of the requests came from government entities in the United States.

Google reported:

We received five requests and one court order to remove seven YouTube videos for criticizing local and state government agencies, law enforcement or public officials. We did not remove content in response to these requests.

We received a court order to remove 1,754 posts from Google Groups relating to a case of continuous defamation against a man and his family. We removed 1,664 of the posts, which fell within the scope of the order.

We received three court orders to remove 641 search results for linking to websites that allegedly defame organizations and individuals. We removed 233 of the search results requested, which fell within the scope of the orders.

In response to a court order, we removed 156 search results because the web pages in question used a trademark in violation of an earlier order.

The number of content removal requests we received increased by 46% compared to the previous reporting period.

Government entities in the United States also made 7,969 requests for user data related to information of 16,281 accounts. Google reports that it complied with 90 percent of these requests.

You can view Google’s full Transparency Report here.

Marijuana Laws Are A Prime Example Of Broken Federal Government

As the Federal government undoubtedly prepares to pounce on Colorado and Washington after voters in each State opted to legalize recreational marijuana use, it seems the Feds are fighting a losing battle with the American psyche.

Antiquated Federal prohibition on marijuana brought forth when “Reefer Madness” was considered an acceptable argument against recreational or medical use of the drug will drive the Drug Enforcement Agency to come down hard on States that, through populist vote, accept the drug for recreational purposes. And sporadic prosecution will likely continue against States that have allowed forbidden medical marijuana initiatives to pass against the will of the Federal government.

The problem with the Federal War on Drugs and the government’s obstinacy in admitting it may have been wrong about marijuana (and other drug) policy is that it is making unwitting hypocrites of nearly everyone involved.

Conservative who hold general disdain for a burgeoning police state and champion self-responsibility in making choices in the American spirit of liberty also champion a Federal drug war against marijuana because of archaic societal views and junk science from the early 20th century.

Fiscal conservatives who argue that drug users are a sap on society’s resources have no qualms about spending thousands of dollars per nonviolent drug offender to fill overcrowded prisons and providing untold thousands of dollars more to law enforcement agencies throughout the Nation to round up the offenders.

A Presidential Administration that claims to understand the benefits of marijuana as a medical product hides behind Federal laws to quash States that allow and regulate its use. And a Congress — listen up, Republicans — that claims to hold in high regard the rights of States to operate with as little Federal meddling as possible rolls over each time the criminal Department of Justice tramples the will of State residents.

Looking at the numbers, it isn’t hard to understand why — despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary — the criminals in charge throughout government have such a hard time admitting that they were probably wrong about marijuana back in the day. According to drugsense.org, between State and Federal government the United States has spent almost $36 billion on the War on Drugs this year. That money has led to some 1.5 million drug-related arrests and about 9,500 drug-related incarcerations.

That’s a lot of fines, court costs and jobs for judges, prison employees, police and lawyers. Likewise, there is an entire industry that thrives (simply because certain drugs remain illicit) by selling drug tests as well as kits to help users mask drugs in the very same tests.

With the explosion of methamphetamine across the United States and the horrific destruction the drug causes, the drug war remains defensible by law enforcement and communities that don’t want a criminal class of doped up zombies roaming the streets. The same argument has been used for the drug war at the height of crack and heroin epidemics in the Nation.

But the people citing meth, crack and heroin to embolden support for the drug war often leave out a key fact: Marijuana arrests continually make up nearly half of drug-related arrests throughout the Nation.

“As in past years, the so-called ‘drug war’ remains fueled by the arrests of minor marijuana possession offenders,” NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano said in a recent press release. “Cannabis prohibition financially burdens taxpayers, encroaches upon civil liberties, engenders disrespect for the law, impedes upon legitimate scientific research into the plant’s medicinal properties, and disproportionately impacts communities of color. It’s time to stop stigmatizing and criminalizing tens of millions of Americans for choosing to consume a substance that is safer than either tobacco or alcohol.”

Indeed, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that more than 37,000 annual U.S. deaths, including more than 1,400 in Colorado, are attributed to alcohol use alone (this figure does not include accidental deaths). But the CDC does not even have a category for deaths caused by the use of marijuana. The argument that marijuana-related car accidents would compete with drunk driving figures do not apply to these statistics; as mentioned before, they do not include accidental deaths.

What the figures do explain, however, is why the alcohol industry frequently lobbies against State initiatives to legalize marijuana.

There is another key player in the fight against American marijuana reform, perhaps the most evil and well-funded of all: the pharmaceutical industry.

The included chart, taken from a 2010 paper entitled “Medical Marijuana: Therapeutic Uses and Legal Status” from the University of Connecticut School of Pharmacy, lists some of the medical conditions that independent medical experts in a number of States have said marijuana could be used to treat.

Imagine the sheer number of pharmaceutical drugs that would find competition from an easily grown plant in treating the conditions and the financial implications that would result for a number of big-name drug makers.

The decision made by voters in Colorado and Washington last week to lighten up on recreational marijuana laws and the decisions made by a handful of other States in recent years to allow the drug for medical benefit are not going to stop the prosecution from the Federal government (paid for by police unions, private prison corporations, alcohol manufacturers, Big Pharma and prison guard unions) anytime soon.

What is coming to an end, however, is the willingness of the American public to believe that Federal officials are working in the citizenry’s best interest when it comes to marijuana prohibition. Oftentimes, lawmakers appear to be simply doing what keeps the money flowing to their coffers from monied special interests. A Rasmussen telephone poll conducted just yesterday relates the following:

  • Only 7 percent of American adults think the United States is winning the war on drugs.
  • Fifty-one percent of respondents said alcohol is more dangerous than pot, while 24 percent said pot is more dangerous and 24 percent aren’t sure.
  • Eighty-eight percent of respondents said they had not smoked marijuana in the past year.
  • Sixty percent said State governments “should decide whether marijuana is legal in a state,” while 27 percent said that responsibility belongs to the Federal government.
  • Thirty-four percent said that the United States spends too much on the drug war; 23 percent of respondents said we don’t spend enough; and 24 percent said drug war spending is “about right.”

As with so many other issues, Americans defining themselves as both conservatives and as liberals have a common gripe against the Federal government when it comes to the marijuana debate as it relates to personal liberty and States rights. The issue, it seems, is yet another pushing the Nation dangerously close to the realization that, for decades, “government for the people, by the people” could be more accurately described as government against the people to the benefit of a few.

Wednesday Morning News Roundup

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.

  • While White House officials likely won’t take the petitions from Texas, Louisiana and Florida to secede from the United States too seriously, the petitions have received the required number of signatures for a response. Officials say that those petitions will now be reviewed and receive some sort of response from relevant policy officials.
  • The price of the Chinese yuan against the U.S. dollar has reached a record high at 6.2262.
  • Worries about the coming “fiscal cliff” coupled with the re-election of President Barack Obama have prompted many wealthy Americans to begin dumping assets like stocks, businesses and homes as the year ends to avoid higher taxes.
  • Despite the ongoing sex scandal, former CIA Director David Patraeus will still testify before Congress about the 9/11 terror attacks in Benghazi, Libya. It remains unclear whether Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, who claimed a scheduling conflict, will testify.
  • A U.S. citizen who has worked for American Airlines for 13 years as a gate agent, in cargo operations and at the airline’s South Florida headquarters was placed on the government’s no fly list without explanation.

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

Center-Libertarian America

The people of the United States appear to be becoming more politically “center-libertarian” than the traditional “center-right” Nation that many described the electorate as in years past, according to some political observers.

A recent article published by the Los Angeles Times examines the outcome of several races throughout the Nation last Tuesday to conclude that while most Americans are fiscal conservatives, social liberalism is on the rise.

From the article:

After 32 straight losses for same-sex wedding laws, four states approved marriage-equality proposals last week. Two other states legalized marijuana for recreational purposes. Wisconsin elected the first openly homosexual U.S. senator in history, Tammy Baldwin. An Iowa Supreme Court justice targeted for removal because he voted in 2007 to approve gay marriage, David Wiggins, defeated an effort to oust him. And, crucially, Obama won with 60% of voters telling exit pollsters they supported the president’s call for higher taxes on the rich.

Aside from taxes on the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans, fiscal issues remain dominated by conservative viewpoints, with 51 percent of voters telling election exit pollsters that the Federal government should be reduced in size and debt and do less.

In some key races that would have been easily won by fiscally conservative candidates last week, GOP contenders lost as a result, some people believe, heavily because of social issues like gay marriage and abortion.

Some Celebrities Aren’t Just Shills For Obama

In the upcoming film “September Morn,” a handful of noteworthy Hollywood skeptics are expected to revisit the events that took place on 9/11 and examine the veracity of the 9/11 Commission’s report.

The film is to be produced by the same company that made a documentary about the Oklahoma City bombing called “A Noble Lie” which offers a different angle on the story of that event than what was reported by mainstream media.

It is rumored that Martin Sheen, Woody Harrelson, Ed Asner, John Heard, Esai Morales and Judd Nelson are set to reopen the investigation into 9/11 that the government closed more than a decade ago. All of the actors are members of the group Actors and Artists For 911 Truth, which calls for a second look at the often-criticized official story of 9/11.

Sheen said while his involvement is not completely certain, the project interests him.

“I read the script and talked to the director, but it’s not a fait accompli,” Sheen told The Huffington Post Canada during a recent interview. “[September Morn is] a very interesting examination of the 9/11 Commission’s report, and it really challenges a lot of their findings as being very, very less than complete.”

Sheen says that he became interested in the topic because his son, Charlie Sheen, has been vocal about his distrust for the official 9/11 story for years.

 

 

“He got me interested,” the elder Sheen acknowledged. “There are obviously a lot of unanswered questions, let me leave it that way, that are very, very disturbing. The key to that is Building 7 and how that came down under very, very suspicious circumstances.”

The film is still up in the air, and it is uncertain if other actors like Harrelson have committed to the project.

Harrelson narrated a 2011 documentary, “Ethos,” which examines how a handful of wealthy banksters used the Federal Reserve to gain global control.

You can watch the full film below:

Get Hit By NYPD, Fix The Car

A man in New York City who was hit by a New York Police Department cruiser and injured received a letter from the department requesting $1,000 for damage to the vehicle.

Jesse Zorski, 25, was hospitalized at New York Downtown Hospital after the patrol car struck his left leg, causing him to fall into the side-view mirror and hit the ground. The uninsured man incurred $1,200 in medical costs due to the accident, according to the New York Daily News.

Zorski’s family sued the NYPD to cover the cost of the medical expenses, but received a bill in the mail rather than help covering the medical costs. A letter accompanying the bill demanded he pay for $1,028.08 in damage done to the patrol car. The department threatened to file a lawsuit against the victim if he did not address the fine quickly enough.

The NYPD defended its actions, claiming the officer who struck Zorski at a crosswalk in the city had the right of way, and claimed that pedestrian had been drinking.

The two beers he had drunk and the hearing aid he wears did not affect his walking, Zorski claims.

“I was perfectly coherent,” Zorski said. “I was shocked, certainly, but not inebriated.”

The man said he believes the department was trying to punish him for filing suit over his medical costs.

The department has since withdrawn the case against Zoriski.

Tuesday Morning News Roundup

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.

  • With the help of mainstream media, the scandal surrounding former CIA Director David Petraeus is quickly becoming depraved enough to be fit for reality television.
  • Conservative commentator Charles Krauthhammer thinks the timing of the sex scandal is a little suspicious.
  • Iranian officials said this week that the nation would “break Obama’s grasping hands” before launching massive “wargames” on Monday to test its ability to repel an air attack against “hypothetical sensitive sites.”
  • American Catholics are vowing civil disobedience if the Obama Administration doesn’t stop trouncing on their religious freedom to reject Obamacare abortion and birth control provisions.

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

Another TSA Sexual Assault

Shocking stories of unprofessional conduct, inappropriate actions and sexual molestation at the dehumanizing checkpoints set up at mass transportation hubs throughout the Nation abound. But for frequency, stories like that of 58-year-old Maggie Buckenmayer, who could be anyone’s mother or grandmother, are no less shocking.

Buckenmayer’s ordeal began at a Transportation Security Administration checkpoint at the Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport in Birmingham, Ala., as she tried to travel home to San Diego. Because the passenger has artificial knees, she was subject to a patdown by TSA agents, which involved groping of her genitals, thighs, buttocks and breasts. The agents proceeded to inform Buckenmayer that they had found a “protrusion” or “abnormality” between her legs.

“I’m shocked, I’m humiliated, so I don’t know what to say, I blurt out ‘I don’t have a penis’ and she looks at me and says ‘well I’m going to have to perform a second pat down on you,’” Buckenmayer said.

She was subject to a second search which she describes as “akin to sexual assault” before a group of TSA agents proceeded to discuss her female anatomy. After being taken to a private screening room, Buckenmayer angrily removed her pants, spread her legs, pointed at her crotch and said, “Do you see anything abnormal here, do you see a protrusion?”

After yet another patdown and having her genitals probed with a wand, the woman was finally cleared to board her flight and given a form to evaluate the TSA.

“I can’t believe you’ve just subjected me to this sexual assault, this emotional assault, there are bad guys out there… Why are you picking on me?” Buckenmayer asked TSA employees at that point.

Below is a video of Buckenmayer discussing the ordeal. She has asked that all who view it pass it along to stop the TSA abuse.

“Our country is a country of great civil liberties… Why the TSA is allowed to emotionally and sexually abuse passengers, I don’t get it. If some stranger did this to me, what one of these TSA agents did, that stranger would be convicted of sexual assault and sent to prison. Please, please get my story out,” she said.

 

Secede, Or Don’t: The Beginning Of The End Of The Federal Monopoly On Power

When the White House implemented its “We the People” page on its website to give Americans an easier way to engage the Federal government with grievances and complaints, officials likely didn’t expect the type or the volume of petitions that have been logged in the wake of the re-election of President Barack Obama. Now, tens of thousands of Americans in at least 20 States are petitioning for the right of peaceable secession from the United States.

While the petitioners have been called everything from “a handful of rabble-rousers” to “idealistic dreamers,” many of the petitions state the portion of the Declaration of Independence that lends credence to the idea (Civil War notwithstanding) of peaceable State secession being an option:

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

As of the writing of this article, a petition asking the Federal government to “Peacefully grant the State of Texas to withdraw from the United States of America and create its own NEW government” has the most virtual signatures at nearly 21,500. The “We the People” page promises that the appropriate individuals will review and possibly respond to petitions that reach 25,000 signatures within 30 days of the petition’s creation.

The Texas petition laments:

The US continues to suffer economic difficulties stemming from the federal government’s neglect to reform domestic and foreign spending. The citizens of the US suffer from blatant abuses of their rights such as the NDAA, the TSA, etc. Given that the state of Texas maintains a balanced budget and is the 15th largest economy in the world, it is practically feasible for Texas to withdraw from the union, and to do so would protect it’s (sic) citizens’ standard of living and re-secure their rights and liberties in accordance with the original ideas and beliefs of our founding fathers which are no longer being reflected by the federal government.

States where a citizen had petitioned on the website at the time of this writing include: Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, North Carolina, North Dakota, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas.

Within the bodies of the various petitions, the petitioners cite a number of reasons for wanting to leave the Union. The most popular include domestic spying, the National Defense Authorization Act, Federal fiscal ineptitude, the Affordable Care and Patient Protection Act, illegal and ongoing unwinnable wars, the Federal militarization of State and local law enforcement,  and a general sense of liberty lost at behest of Federal meddling.

While it is uncertain, it remains highly unlikely that any of the aforementioned petitions or those filed on behalf of other States will lead to a Federal willingness to cede power to States. But there are battles on the horizon resulting from last week’s election that will further irritate Federal/State relationships in coming months, when vast swaths of the populace are already clearly tired of Federal meddling in State matters.

The coming implementation of Obamacare, with which many States voted last week not to cooperate, is going to create friction between the already shaky relationship between Federal and State government. And voters in Colorado and Washington who voted to legalize recreational marijuana use are in the Federal government’s sights, as the Department of Justice prepares to use its Federal might to sue the States into complying with Federal prohibition of the drug, regardless of State wishes.

As Americans on both sides of the issues continue to feel more and more that the Federal government does not represent them, the political battle may change from conservatives versus liberals to the citizens of the Nation versus the elitists and corporate special interests in Washington, D.C. This could be a moment in history quite indicative of the beginning of the end for strong American central government.

 

Update

Petitions for secession now exist in at least 47 States and have as many as 375,000 signatures, according to reports.

Is Obama Unfettered On Gun Control?

Second Amendment advocacy groups like Gun Owners of America (GOA) and the Second Amendment Foundation (SAF) are predicting a tough four years for the Nation’s gun owners as President Barack Obama readies himself for a second term in the White House.

Larry Pratt, executive director of GOA, said in a recent interview that he is shocked that the President won a second term. He expressed concerns over Washington’s call to restart debates over the United Nations’ proposed Arms Trade Treaty. He contends that Americans can expect the Administration to “openly launch broadsides” against their gun rights.

The Obama Administration joined with China, France, Germany, the United Kingdom and more than 150 other governments to support renewed debate on the proposed United Nations Arms Trade Treaty less than 24 hours after the President was re-elected, according to SAF.

“It’s obvious that our warnings over the past several months have been true,” said Alan Gottlieb, founder and executive vice president of SAF. “The election was called about 11 p.m. Tuesday and by 11 a.m. this [Wednesday], we got word that the United States was supporting this resolution. We have to be more vigilant in our efforts to stop this proposed treaty.”

Amnesty International issued a statement Wednesday lauding passage of the resolution, saying the treaty will protect human rights; but Gottlieb counters that the right to self-defense as allowed by the 2nd Amendment is a basic human right.

While both SAF and GOA highlight the importance of American vigilance when it comes to protecting the 2nd Amendment for those domestic and abroad who seek to undermine the rights it provides, they also say that Congress is unlikely to pass the international treaty if it makes it to the Capitol.

Pratt believes Obama will pursue more gun owner registration, more executive orders designed to limit 2nd Amendment rights and more anti-gun Supreme Court justices in the coming years.

U.S. Oil King By 2017

A new report out by the International Energy Agency predicts that U.S. oil output will be more than that of Saudi Arabia by the end of the decade.

Analysts say that this means two things: America is well on its way to energy independence, and environmental and green-energy advocates in the Nation will likely double down in their protestation against fossil fuels over the next few years.

The IEA predicts the United States will overtake Russia as a top gas producer by the year 2015 and be the world’s biggest oil producer by 2017. The result, according to the agency, will be a continued fall in U.S. oil imports, with North America becoming a net oil exporter by about 2030 and the United States achieving near energy independence by 2035.

“The United States, which currently imports around 20 percent of its total energy needs, becomes all but self-sufficient in net terms — a dramatic reversal of the trend seen in most other energy importing countries,” the report says.

The IEA attributes the expected boon in American oil production to new methods and technologies for mining oil and natural gas in the United States.

“Energy developments in the United States are profound and their effect will be felt well beyond North America — and the energy sector,” the IEA said in its annual long-term report.

“The recent rebound in U.S. oil and gas production, driven by upstream technologies that are unlocking light tight oil and shale gas resources, is spurring economic activity — with less expensive gas and electricity prices giving industry a competitive edge.”

According to Reuters, the oil boom in the U.S. will likely have major geopolitical impacts “if Washington feels its strategic interests are no longer as embedded in the Middle East and other volatile oil producing regions.”

Environmentalists throughout the Nation have protested heavily against domestic oil production, arguing contaminated water supplies, increased air pollution and untold environmental destruction related to fracking will be the inevitable result.

Guns, Gold And Four More Years

Most conservatives believe that the re-election of President Barack Obama is going to bring dire economic circumstances over the next four years, which could possibly drive the Nation into total collapse.

The belief is likely not far-fetched considering the current state of affairs in American economics as the United States hurls toward a “fiscal cliff” which will combine rising tax rates and government shutdowns, the government prepares to raise its debt limit again to the tune of $2.4 trillion and the number of Americans out of work continues to trend at dismal levels.

All of the ominous headlines about the shape of the overall economy are driving up some key markets, most of which pertain to businesses patronized by American preppers.

In the immediate aftermath of the election, it became clear that those investing in gold and other precious metals will likely enjoy a profitable four years, just as they did during the President’s first term.

“With the fiscal cliff approaching fast, an entire new group of investors will be pouring into the precious metals in anticipation of the grim fact that the U.S. is going to try and print itself out of debt,” said David Morgan, publisher of “The Morgan Report,” told Market Watch.

Another sector of the economy that is preforming well at the moment is the firearm industry as fears of an Obama gun ban encourage purchases of extra magazines, ammo and firearms.

After the election last week, Smith & Wesson’s stock rose 9.62 percent and Sturm Ruger & Co. was up 6.81 percent in last Wednesday’s trading.

“We expect that with President Obama’s reelection these sales could continue well into his second term,” Mike Greene, an analyst at Benchmark Co., wrote in a research note.

Second Amendment supporter fears are likely compounded by the fact that the National Rifle Association — despite having 22 of the politicians it supported elected and five it opposed not — lost out on several of the most important Senate races. This has drawn claims from some NRA detractors that the power of the gun lobby in Washington is waning.

Did Climate Change Kill The Maya?

Climate change may or may not be a consequence of man’s activity on the planet, but researchers have found that it has definitely played part in the demise of great civilizations of the past.

According to research from two University of California, Davis, scientists, decades of extreme weather were responsible in part for the dismantling of political culture and later the entire human population of ancient Maya civilization.

“Here you had an amazing state-level society that had created calendars, magnificent architecture, works of art, and was engaged in trade throughout Central America,” said UC Davis anthropology professor and co-author Bruce Winterhalder. “They were incredible craftspersons, proficient in agriculture, statesmanship and warfare — and within about 80 years, it fell completely apart.”

The researchers conducted extensive reviews of the inscriptions on monuments within the Maya Hieroglyphic Database Project to learn more about sociological patterns just before the Maya disappeared.

“Every one of these Maya monuments is political history,” said UC Davis Native American Language Center director and linguist Martha Macri, a specialist in Mayan hieroglyphs for three decades.

Each monument is inscribed with the date it was erected and dates of significant events, such as a ruler’s birthday or accession to power, as well as dates of some deaths, burials and major battles. In the years leading to the collapse, the Maya erected fewer and fewer monuments, according to the researchers.

In order to examine weather patterns to correspond with the information on the hieroglyphs, the researchers turned to stalagmite formations in a cave in Belize near key Maya population centers.

The researchers discovered by examining the political writings alongside precipitation records that:

Periods of high and increasing rainfall coincided with a rise in population and political centers between 300 and 660 AD. A climate reversal and drying trend between 660 and 1000 AD triggered political competition, increased warfare, overall sociopolitical instability, and finally, political collapse. This was followed by an extended drought between 1020 and 1100 AD that likely corresponded with crop failures, death, famine, migration and, ultimately, the collapse of the Maya population.

“It’s a cautionary tale about how fragile our political structure might be. Are we in danger the same way the Classic Maya were in danger? I don’t know. But I suspect that just before their rapid descent and disappearance, Maya political elites were quite confident about their achievements,” Winterhalder said of the findings.

CIA Director Resigns

Central Intelligence Agency Director and drone warfare advocate David Petraeus announced last week that he will be stepping down as the Nation’s top spy after details of an extramarital affair emerged.

“Yesterday afternoon, I went to the White House and asked the President to be allowed, for personal reasons, to resign from my position as D/CIA,” he wrote in a resignation letter.

“After being married for over 37 years, I showed extremely poor judgment by engaging in an extramarital affair. Such behavior is unacceptable, both as a husband and as the leader of an organization such as ours. This afternoon, the President graciously accepted my resignation,” he wrote.

Petraeus became CIA director in April 2011, replacing Leon Panetta, who moved to the Pentagon to become defense secretary. Some sources indicate that deputy CIA director and a longtime CIA officer, Mike Morrell, will take over Petraeus’ position within the agency.

During his tenure at the CIA, Petraeus oversaw the Barack Obama Administration’s aggressive counterterrorism campaign, using increased armed unmanned drones in Pakistan, Yemen, Afghanistan and elsewhere. The aggressive drone policy has been cited for examinations by the United Nations and other international entities for the possibility of war crimes in instances where civilian death tolls tallied high.

States Rights And Marijuana

President Barack Obama, former member of the pot-centric group of boys known as the Choom Gang, has admitted to inhaling and has, in fact, built much of his persona around the fact that he was a laid-back Hawaiian kid who liked to smoke it up.

In his 1995 book Dreams of My Father, the President reminisced:

I had discovered that it didn’t make any difference whether you smoked reefer in a white classmate’s sparkling new van, or in the dorm room of some brother you’d met down at the gym, or on the beach with a couple of Hawaiian kids… You just might be bored or alone. Everybody was welcome into the club of disaffection.

And if the high didn’t solve whatever it was that was getting you down, it could at least help you laugh at the world’s ongoing folly and see through all the hypocrisy and bullshit and cheap moralism. That’s how it seemed to me then, anyway.

But that didn’t stop the President from allowing his Justice Department to lead massive Federal raids against marijuana dispensaries and licensed growers in California after that State legalized the drug for medical use. One of the President’s 2008 campaign promises to medical marijuana advocates was that he would not assault State’s rights and use Federal “resources to circumvent state laws on this issue.”

Now, with the President re-elected and two State initiatives passed (in Colorado and Washington) that allow for full legalization of the drug, the Obama Justice Department will have to decide whether to crack down and raid in the States or welcome a new era in the Nation. If they decide to do the latter, it could mean an eventual drawdown across the board of the failed War on Drugs.

It’s most likely, however, that the Obama Administration will come down hard on the States to flex Federal power and embolden the drug war with new enemies.

“The Department of Justice’s enforcement of the Controlled Substances Act remains unchanged,” a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Colorado said after the initiatives passed. “We are reviewing the ballot initiative and have no additional comment at this time.”

Colorado’s Governor John Hickenlooper opposed legalizing marijuana in his State and, in a statement, warned that the Federal law could hamper the State’s ability to move forward the voters’ will.

“The voters have spoken, and we have to respect their will,” Hickenlooper said. “This will be a complicated process, but we intend to follow through. That said, federal law still says marijuana is an illegal drug, so don’t break out the Cheetos or Goldfish too quickly.”

In the coming months, the Federal government’s response to the legalization of marijuana in Colorado and Washington will be a telling sign of how willing the Fed is to accept State sovereignty. Chances are that we will be seeing more armed raids than smoking circles.

Holder, Cabinet Members To Be Replaced

Attorney General Eric Holder could decline a second term at the Department of Justice, despite the re-election of President Barack Obama.

According to Reuters, Holder was speaking to law students at the University of Baltimore and said he still must speak with Obama and with his own family and ask himself, “Do I have some gas left in the tank?”

The AG’s remarks were not part of the speech, according to prepared remarks for the event on the Department of Justice website.

While it is not uncommon for the Attorney General to leave office after four years, Holder may have extra incentive to step down after a number of scandals, including Fast and Furious, the failed gun-running program that led to Congressional inquiry.

Reports indicate that Holder isn’t the only member of Obama’s first-term cabinet that may be replaced. Hillary Clinton and Tim Geithner have both publicly announced their exits. Leon Panetta, Eric Holder, Ray LaHood, Steven Chu, Ken Salazaar and Lisa Jackson are all also rumored to be leaving Obama’s Administration.

Ron Paul: We’re Already Over The Cliff

The United States is already over the fiscal cliff and there is no hope of current political leaders or those elected within the next decade of being able to undo the financial damage that has befallen the Nation.

That’s what Representative and former Presidential hopeful Ron Paul had to say during an interview on Bloomberg Television when he was asked if he believed Congress could work out the issue associated with the looming financial calamity.

“We’re so far gone,” Paul said. “We’re over the cliff. We cannot get enough people in Congress in the next 5-10 years who will do the wise things. We have to prepare for having already fallen off the fiscal cliff.”

The problem, he said, is that too many politicians argue over what must be protected in the budget rather than focusing on necessary cuts. Paul also believes that the re-election of President Barack Obama is a bad sign that the American public is too welcoming to big-government spending.

“That is why people were sort of surprised with these conditions that the president could get re-elected,” he said. “That is a bad sign in that there are more on the receiving end. People do not want anything cut. They want all the bailouts to come. They want the Fed to keep printing money. They do not believe we have gone off the cliff or are close to going off the cliff.”

Gold Investors Get Obama Boon

Gold prices spiked late Tuesday and early Wednesday morning following the re-election of President Barack Obama as many economists say that Federal Reserve policy will likely continue on a possible course to inflation.

“The outcome of the U.S. election increases the probability that the ultra-expansionary monetary and fiscal policy will continue, which puts pressure on the U.S. dollar and gives buoyancy to commodity prices,” Eugen Weinberg, head of commodities research at Commerzbank said in a report.

Gold jumped to around $1,729 an ounce, its highest level since Oct. 23. U.S. gold projections for December are up $3.70 to $1,718.70 an ounce. Gold prices are up a total of about $54 — 3.2 percent — since the beginning of this week.

As the left/right political paradigm continues to stymie a Republican House and Democratic Senate in coming weeks while lawmakers face tough fiscal decisions, gridlock could drive gold prices to historic highs.

Gold prices more than doubled during the President’s first term in the Oval Office. Some predictions show the precious metal reaching $1,800 per ounce by the end of the year and nearing $2,000 during the first half of 2013.

Republican Moral Crusading Is Killing The Party

It isn’t the end of the world for conservatives and truly Libertarian-leaning Republicans no matter how dire the re-election of President Barack Obama seems; but it is time for the neocon, moral-crusading wing of the GOP to be put to pasture if the Party will survive.

Because he used her as a campaign prop and then backed away from her principles, Republican Vice Presidential nominee Paul Ryan brought Ayn Rand, the mother of Objectivism, postmortem fame in headlines throughout the 2012 Presidential election season. So, it is befitting to revisit her ideas and understanding why the modern Republican Presidential ticket doesn’t embody the “conservative” spirit to which it always lays claim.

In the January 1962 edition of “The Objectivist Newsletter” Rand writes:

It is generally understood that those who support the “conservatives,” expect them to uphold the system which has been camouflaged by the loose term of “the American way of life.” The moral treason of the “conservative” leaders lies in the fact that they are hiding behind that camouflage: they do not have the courage to admit that the American way of life was capitalism, that that was the politico-economic system born and established in the United States, the system which, in one brief century, achieved a level of freedom, of progress, of prosperity, of human happiness, unmatched in all the other systems and centuries combined—and that that is the system which they are now allowing to perish by silent default.

Meaning, the President of the United States doesn’t create jobs, prevent abortions or un-Biblical marriages, issue opinions on any variety of moral social issues and certainly has no hand in “making America great.” The President serves to push the government out of the way in order for the American people to do these things, and they will. Government must get out of the way, and Republicans must first lay aside their moral ascriptions to allow for a candidate only interested in the “conservatism” of government as it relates to how it carries out its Constitutionally allowed activities if they ever expect to present to the American people a candidate who can win.

Barack Obama certainly isn’t going to get government out of the way. But, given the current political landscape and vitriol coming from fiscal conservatives in government, he may not have much of a chance to push socialistic financial agendas. That is where Republicans have the most chance of regaining power of the Nation’s highest office.

Regardless of moral views, imposition of religious moral standards across vast swaths of a society is a historically impossible idea. The moral pandering of fellow Republican politicians — here’s to you, Todd Akin and Richard Murdoch — likely cost Romney a valuable chunk of the electorate. Candidates who would otherwise have an easy case of pushing sound monetary policies to a populace already hurting from liberal financial initiatives and witnessing the European failures in long-term adherence to them lose elections because rather than talk about what government should not do to improve the economy they are discussing what it should do to prevent personal liberties.

No American is forced to have an abortion or be homosexual, just as no American is forced to attend church or believe in traditional family values. But we all (or, at least, the vast majority of us) are forced to pay taxes at some point. We all need the ability to provide for ourselves and (again, at least the majority) want the opportunity to do so.

So, Republicans, it is time to do what you are good at and push sound financial policy on the National scale. If there is a social battle to be won, it may be better fought on the community level.

The army of young Ron Paul supporters (largely extremely fiscally conservative and socially liberal) was shunned by the GOP this time around. And Paul has probably seen his last political crusade, but imagine the campaign they could help build to revive America’s “conservative” Party for similar candidates over the course of the next infuriating two and four years.

Was Superstorm Sandy A Democrat?

Superstorm Sandy, as it is being used by pundits on the left, just may be conservative Americans’ biggest political foe at the moment.

Following President Barack Obama’s Tuesday victory, left-wing pundit Chris Matthews had an interesting view of what was one of the biggest aides to the President’s success.

“I’m so glad we had that storm last week because I think the storm was one of those things — no, politically I should say. Not in terms of hurting people. The storm brought in possibilities for good politics,” Matthews said after a loving Obama tribute monologue.

The President and his green-energy acolytes are likely happy about the storm as he moves into his second term because of the refocusing of attention on climate change that follows unusual weather patterns.

According to Bloomberg News, climate change discussions in the aftermath of Sandy could give the President the forum he needs to talk up a proposed carbon tax that he claims will reduce the deficit and help the environment.

According to the article:

A tax starting at $20 a metric ton of carbon dioxide equivalent and rising at about 6 percent a year could raise $154 billion by 2021, Nick Robins, an analyst at the bank in London, said today in an e-mailed research note, citing Congressional Research Service estimates. “Applied to the Congressional Budget Office’s 2012 baseline, this would halve the fiscal deficit by 2022,” Robins said.

Is U.N. Internet Takeover Coming?

Internet censorship via a United Nations initiative could be a very real possibility for citizens in the United States, depending on the outcome of talks scheduled to take place next month at a conference in Dubai.

At the upcoming World Conference on International Telecommunications, U.N. members could potentially advocate controls that would censor free speech, levy tariffs on e-commerce, and even force companies to clean up their “e-waste” and make gadgets that are better for the environment.

U.S. officials say that the Nation is against the U.N. proposals because management of the Internet by one central organization goes against free speech.

“[Doing nothing] would not be a terrible outcome at all,” Terry Kramer, the chief U.S. envoy to the conference, said in an interview with FOX. “We need to avoid suffocating the Internet space through well-meaning but overly prescriptive proposals that would seek to control content.”

An event is planned for Nov. 14 at 2 p.m. at the W Hotel in Washington, D.C., by a group of Internet freedom advocates who will preview what the U.N. agenda will likely be next month in Dubai.

Cop Cites Toddler For Trying To Pee

Boys will be boys, and cops will be cops.

A 3-year-old in Piedmont, Okla., earned his mom a $2,500 fine for unzipping his pants and attempting to urinate in his own front yard. Before the reportedly still potty-training tyke got down to business, a police officer stopped him and informed his mother that the child’s impromptu bathroom break would cost her.

“Dillan pulled down his pants to pee outside, I guess and the cop pulled up and asked for my license and told me he was going to give me a ticket for public urination,” the boy’s mother, Ashley Warden told Oklahoma’s News9.

“I said really, he is three years old, and he said it doesn’t matter. It is public urination. I said we are on our property and he said it’s in public view,” the boy’s grandmother Jennifer Warden added.

The Wardens reportedly filed a complaint with the department that was rejected by the law enforcement agency. The family claims that they live on two acres near a public street, but are actually located in a quite rural area. They allege that the citation-writing officer parks on their street daily.

“I am disappointed that the officer thinks this is what he needs to do with my tax dollars is sitting and harassing our family,” Jennifer Warden said.