Unprepared New Yorkers Battle Price Gouging

Being prepared for disaster is a way of life for many American preppers, but there are also many people throughout the Nation completely unprepared for the unthinkable.

Those who are unprepared become easy targets for victimization. Since Superstorm Sandy struck New York, there have been hundreds of reports of price gouging in the area as frantic city-dwellers rush about in search of basic supplies.

New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said Monday that he was in the process of investigating more than 400 possible cases of price gouging as prices on things like gasoline, food, bottled water, generators, batteries and flashlights have skyrocketed at some retailers. He said he was investigating supermarkets, hardware stores, bodegas, delis, hotels and taxis throughout the New York City region.

“We are actively investigating hundreds of complaints we’ve received from consumers of businesses preying on victims of Hurricane Sandy,” Schneiderman said. “Our office has zero tolerance for price gouging.”

One customer was shocked to be charged $10 for a box of matches at a neighborhood store. There were also reports of potatoes at one grocer going up from $3 to $7 and a loaf of bread costing $7.

The Election That Spawned A Revolution

Tomorrow, you will vote and hopefully Americans will know very quickly — without too many hanging chads, faulty machines or fraud accusations — whether President Mitt Romney or President Barack Obama will hold the Nation’s highest office for the next four years.

After the election, some Americans will feel victorious and others worried. Some will likely take to the streets in celebration while others prepare for four years of political hardship for their party. And still more, those damned third-party-voting electorate-splitters (as many of you refer to them), will shrug and expect little change.

For whom you are planning on voting in this “landmark” election matters very little in the grand scheme of America’s inevitable creeping slide into turmoil and tyranny. It’s a bait and switch enabled by political theater in its grandest form.

Some of you began this long, painful election season wishing for a truly conservative candidate but are beaten down by political grandstanding to the point that you now believe “anyone but Obama” is the answer to America’s many problems. At this point, you have effectively been beaten into submission by the cowardly and unconservative Republican Party so much that you believe moderate Romney, with his crony capitalist background, is the answer to reversing impending economic mayhem. One can only hope you are right that Romney will be elected, reverse Obamacare on his first day, single-handedly turn around an economy that is heading for Grecian territory, create jobs for the millions of unemployed and keep the Nation’s geopolitical foes at bay.

Others believe truly that the current President was using his first term as a practice swing and that the promises he made in 2008 will be fulfilled in a second term. You think that if your man is re-elected, in the next four years senseless wars will finally end, stimulus will miraculously begin to work, the government will become transparent, green energy will make the Nation new again and the impoverished in the country will become educated and receive good jobs through government benevolence. One can only hope that you are right, as well.

Both groups believe that if the wrong man reigns victorious, America is doomed. But in that respect, it can be safely said that you are all wrong. America is doomed either way, as are its people.

  • Corporate cronyism, international bankers and corrupt politicians will maintain and, in fact, grow control over the United States.
  • The National Defense Authorization Act, the police state and warrantless surveillance will exist unabated.
  • Government will grow, as will its debts.

The purpose of this article is not, however, simple divisiveness. It is not a final plea from a contrarian who believes that American citizens should send a big message to government by not voting or by voting for a third party candidate en masse. Vote for whomever you want.

But after the election, let’s be Americans again. Not Republicans, Democrats, Independents, Libertarians, Homosexuals, rich white guys, modern women, Christians, Muslims, young voters, etc. Let’s be citizens of the Nation not first, but only after we are members of families, neighborhoods, communities, cities, counties, States and regions, respectively. Look around you; these are the people that matter. No amount of bloviating by the likes of government bureaucrats and media pundits seeking to divide the Nation as a whole neatly into categorical political armies can change the simple fact that it truly is a battle of us versus them. It’s those inside the Beltway and the marbled halls of statehouses with their hands deep in the pockets of lobbyists and even deeper in Federal coffers versus those who make communities work — and who would have a much better quality of life, built by their own hard work, if the Federal government worked only in its Constitutional capacity.

That’s not to say that every individual that works in government does so with malicious intentions. And regardless of who is elected President, there’s still a chance for Americans to make this the election of a lifetime. This could be the one that after which the populace was awakened from a century and a half of political stupor.

People like Ron Paul have already set the machinations in place that could help the American people take back the Nation, starting in their very own communities, by illustrating the point that it is time for a political revolution wherein everyday people immerse themselves in government. Sitting at home and staying informed about what decisions are being made for you by the Federal government will no longer do; it’s time to change the way government works from the ground up.

Many people might say that this is an impossible and idealistic undertaking. But imagine the difference that could be made by such small steps as every county in the Nation working to ensure that its sheriff would uphold the U.S. Constitution to the hilt and defend it against Federal assaults at all costs. That would equate to more than 3,000 American lawmen in charge of departments dedicated to defending the Constitution. The same could be done with councilmembers, mayors, prosecutors, judges and commissioners. It’s a daunting task, but organizing in communities is much easier than attempting to sway the result of corporate- and media-controlled national elections.

There is an anecdotal story that often makes rounds in liberty circles: Two thousand years ago, a Roman Senator suggested that all slaves wear white armbands to better identify them. “No,” said a wiser Senator, “If they see how many of them there are, they may revolt.”

After the election, no matter the outcome, lay aside the partisan squabble and put on your proverbial white armband. Encourage your family, friends and neighbors to do the same regardless of political differences. If the criminal class in Washington D.C. sees how many people there are willing to work in communities across the Nation to put America back on the path to righteousness in the big, Constitutional ways first (focusing on the political campaign rhetoric fodder only after the real work is done), they just may clean up their acts. Or at least they may fear the populace enough to cede power back to the people.

If not, things are going to get much worse before they ever get better.

A Camp Stove And A Generator

Whether you’re a prepper or an outdoor enthusiast who likes to get away from the modern world for days at a time, you know that there are still a pesky few electronic devices that you would like to keep charged even when a power source is miles away.

There are several options like solar panels and hand cranks for providing off-grid power; but often — for preppers and backpackers alike — space is a major concern when already packing a heft of gear.

A new camp stove design by a company called BioLite, however, can help you keep your pack light and still let you charge your cellphones and other small electronics by converting the cooking heat to electricity.

The $130 unit uses a small fan to keep a wood fire going in the compact 8.25-by-5-inch wide camp stove. The stove then steals energy away from the burning wood and converts it to power compatible with a USB plug with the help of a tiny thermoelectric generator. Though some reviews of the product complain that the small size of the stove requires constant addition of biomass to fuel the fire, the company claims the powerful unit can boil a pot of water in just less than five minutes.

 

[vimeo http://www.vimeo.com/41198061 w=400&h=300]

Which Presidents Were Good For The Economy?

Tomorrow’s election is an election about the economy, and it isn’t the first Presidential election in which economics have played a key role.

With all of the rhetoric and promises spouted about the economy during Presidential campaigns of the past, it is hard to say definitively which Presidents did the best job of delivering a good economy during their tenure in the White House. But a new study from researchers at Georgia Tech seeks to grade past Presidents on an economic performance report card.

The study by the Georgia Institute of Technology analyzed 220 years of data to estimate an economic “grade point average” for Presidents who served from 1789 to 2009. The research appears in the October edition of PS Political Science & Politics.

According to the researchers, Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt, Warren G. Harding and Rutherford B. Hayes preformed the best in an economic sense, all receiving an A+. Chester Arthur, Herbert Hoover and Martin Van Buren receive failing grades for their economic undertakings.

Rounding out the study’s top five high economic achievers were William McKinley and Millard Filmore with grades of A-. Founding father George Washington trailed behind the top five in the study, but still achieved a grad of A- economically speaking. John Adams, Harry Truman and John F. Kennedy rank slightly lower in the A-/B+ range. And the most recent Presidents to receive high marks were Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan with a satisfactory B.

Presidential ranking systems tend to be clouded by partisan bias, subjective judgments and other aspects of Presidential performance, but the Georgia Tech researchers claim to have modeled their economic ranking system on objective, statistical data to gauge Presidential economic performance without partisan bias.

The methodology also produced some — and some that free market advocates would say not so –surprising results, such as:

  • Abraham Lincoln, James Madison, John Quincy Adams and Andrew Jackson — often considered hero Presidents — each receive a D for poor economic performance.
  • Presidents with below average economic performance often belong to parties that are relatively pro-farmer, pro-laborer or pro-consumer.
  • Presidential economic performance did not correlate with the pre-political career, birth order, historical “greatness” or whether the President was a “dark horse” versus a well-vetted President.
  • Presidents who performed well tend to belong to pro-business political parties, have a Congress in which only one house is dominated by their party, serve during wartime and were raised in middle-class environments.

Citation: Mark Zachary Taylor, An Economic Ranking of the US Presidents, 1789-2009: A Data-Based Approach, PS: Political Science & Politics (October 2012)

Celestial Anger Over Gays, Obama, Romney, ‘Innocence Of Muslims’ Blamed For Sandy

As New York City and much of the United States’ eastern seaboard continues to pick up the pieces left behind by Superstorm Sandy, interesting theories (not related to debatable climate change) continue to crop up about the storm’s origins.

God, albeit different religious versions of The Almighty, is a popular target of blame with a handful of Christians and Muslims alike; and His reasons, by their reckoning, are political.

First, radical evangelical preacher John McTernan said that the hurricane was a direct result of lagging American support for Israel, gay sex and President Barack Obama’s and Mitt Romney’s political views.

McTernan writes in a recent article:

Hurricane Sandy is hitting 21 years to the day of the Perfect Storm of October 30, 1991. I write about this in my book as America Has Done to Israel. This was the day that President George Bush Sr. initiated the Madrid Peace Process to divide the land of Israel, including Jerusalem. America has been under God’s judgment since this event. Both of these hurricanes were cause by freakish weather patterns that came together to create.

Twenty-one years breaks down to 7 x 3, which is a significant number with God. Three is perfection as the Godhead is three in one while seven is perfection.

It appears that God gave America 21 years to repent of interfering with His prophetic plan for Israel; however, it has gotten worse under all the presidents and especially Obama. Obama is 100 percent behind the Muslim Brotherhood which has vowed to destroy Israel and take Jerusalem. Both candidates are pro-homosexual and are behind the homosexual agenda. America is under political judgment and the church does not know it!

Muslim clerics on the other side of the planet in Egypt also believe that God has unleashed punishment on the United States in the form of Hurricane Sandy, but for reasons different from — some directly contradictory to — McTernan’s. They think it is because of the mocking of the Prophet Muhammad in the childish film upon which the Obama Administration attempted to blame the terror attacks in Benghazi, Libya.

“Some people wonder about the hurricane in America and its causes,” Egyptian hardline cleric Wagdi Ghoneim tweeted twice this week in the aftermath of the storm.

“In my opinion, it is revenge from God for the beloved prophet,” he added.

Following the cleric’s tweet, Muslim commenters doubled down.

“God, shake the earth under their feet,” read one comment.

“We ask God to destroy the U.N. building for its injustice, corruption, tyranny … with Sandy,” read another.

Meanwhile, according to The Associated Press, Iranian leaders have been mum on linking Sandy to God. The news agency writes in an article: “In Iran, prominent clerics often avoid drawing parallels between natural disasters and divine intervention because their own country has faced devastating earthquakes, such as one in 2003 that killed 26,000 when it hit the ancient city of Bam.”

Napolitano Uses Sandy To Make Government Internet Control Case

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano is using Hurricane Sandy to attempt to make the case for more government controls over the Internet.

Earlier this week, Napolitano compared the power outages that are currently taking place in parts of New York City and the rest of the Northeast to what might happen if terrorists launched a cyberattack on power grids.

“If you think a control-system attack that takes down a utility even for a few hours is not serious, just look at what is happening now that Mother Nature has taken out those utilities,” she said at a cybersecurity conference, POLITICO reports. The damage can be “life threatening.”

Napolitano echoed the sentiments of other Barack Obama Administration officials who have been talking about the need for more government Internet controls over the past month as a cybersecurity executive order is reportedly already ready for the President to sign.

In October, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta warned that a “Cyber Pearl Harbor” could be looming if the government is not allowed more power to control the Internet.

He warned, “An aggressor nation or extremist group could use these kinds of cyber tools to gain control of critical switches. They could derail passenger trains, or even more dangerous, derail passenger trains loaded with lethal chemicals. They could contaminate the water supply in major cities, or shut down the power grid across large parts of the country.”

Here Come Higher Taxes

The election is about the only thing grabbing headlines at the moment; but after next week, the screams about the impending “fiscal cliff” will reach a deafening media roar.

If Congress doesn’t take action to come to an agreement in its budget negotiations, more than 30 million already cash-strapped American households could be hit with the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT).

The election’s outcome is expected to serve well as an indicator of which party will have the most Congressional power in the discussions. But regardless of which Presidential candidate is elected, Americans’ taxes will go up if an agreement isn’t reached.

The Financial Services Roundtable urged lawmakers to “bridge over” the fiscal cliff to buy time to deal with more difficult issues surrounding taxes and spending.

“The fiscal cliff is imposing a negative drag on business lending, hiring, spending and investment right now, despite the actual ‘cliff’ being over two months away,” Tim Pawlenty, president and CEO of the Roundtable wrote to lawmakers.

EFF: Local Police Using Predator Drones

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has sued the Department of Homeland Security, demanding information about why its Predator drones have been lent out to law enforcement agencies throughout the Nation.

Following an increase in news reports of local law enforcement agencies being aided in surveillance operations by DHS-owned spy drones, the EFF filed a Freedom of Information Act request for more information but received no response from the agency.

Many of the instances in which local law enforcement agencies have used DHS drones were organized through partnerships with Customs and Border Protection, which routinely uses the unmanned vehicles to patrol the Nation’s southern border.

“We’ve seen bits and pieces of information on CBP’s Predator drones, but Americans deserve the full story,” said EFF Staff Attorney Jennifer Lynch. “Drones are a powerful surveillance tool that can be used to gather extensive data about you and your activities. The public needs to know more about how and why these Predator drones are being used to watch U.S. citizens.”

The EFF is also suing the Federal Aviation Administration to obtain records regarding the authorization of drone flights conducted throughout the Nation by domestic police departments.

“FAA’s foot-dragging means we can’t get a real-time picture of drone activity in the U.S.,” said Lynch. “If officials could release their records in a timely fashion — or publish it as a matter of routine on the FAA website – we could stop filing these FOIA requests and lawsuits.”

Republicans Send Seventh Letter To Obama Inquiring About Benghazi

Senate Republicans said Wednesday that the Administration of Barack Obama is failing miserably in answering questions about the attacks in Benghazi, Libya, as many pundits speculate that the whole story could damn the President’s re-election chances.

A group of Republican Senators sent a seventh letter to Obama Wednesday demanding a response to questions regarding the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi. The letter — signed by Senators John McCain (R-Ariz.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) and Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) — claims that they have “failed to receive a single letter in response” to their previous queries.

“The American people and their representatives in Congress need to understand what you knew about the Benghazi terrorist attack and when you knew it,” the letter states. “We also have a right to know what steps you and your administration took — or failed to take — before, during and after the terrorist attack to protect American lives.”

The letter recaps questions Republicans have previously asked of the Administration, ranging from queries about the timing of the last attack and previous attacks on Benghazi to why the President denied extra security to the consulate.

“Your failure to answer these important questions will only add to the growing perception among many of our constituents that your administration has undertaken a concerted effort to misrepresent the facts and stonewall Congress and the American people,” the Senators write.

Judge: 4th Amendment Doesn’t Bar 24/7 Video On Private Land

A Federal judge has ruled that it is not a violation of the 4th Amendment for police to install surveillance cameras on a person’s private property if they expect a crime is being committed.

Officers in Wisconsin charged Manuel Mendoza and Marco Magana of Green Bay with Federal drug charges after discovering an alleged 1,000 marijuana plants growing on a heavily wooded, 22-acre property. Agents with the Drug Enforcement Agency gathered video evidence on the gated, posted property without a warrant. Magana and Mendoza, facing life imprisonment and $10 million in fines, asked U.S. Magistrate Judge William Callahan to throw out the video evidence on 4th Amendment grounds.

On Oct. 8, however, Callahan agreed with a 1984 Supreme Court case ruling in Oliver v. United States allowing for the warrantless search of open fields on private property by the government and extended the ruling to video surveillance.

“That one’s actions could be recorded on their own property, even if the property is not within the curtilage, is contrary to society’s concept of privacy,” wrote Brett Reetz, Magana’s attorney, in a legal filing last month. “The owner and his guest… had reason to believe that their activities on the property were not subject to video surveillance as it would constitute a violation of privacy.”

“Curtilage” is a legal term for property closer to a residence which traditionally is more protected by privacy rights.

Federal Judge William Griesbach rejected a request for repeal in the case. It has also been noted that it is unclear Magana had complete ownership of the property or was leasing the land, according to reports. A jury trial has been scheduled to begin Jan. 22.

Terror, Terror, Terror!

New York University students in a class on transnational terrorism cannot pass the course until they “hypothetically plan a terrorist attack” of their own, including details about location and how they would carry out their dastardly plans.

An investigative report compiled by the New York Post, unveils how students of former Navy criminal investigator Marie-Helen Maras are asked to “step into [a terrorist’s] shoes” to write a 10- to 15-page paper on their proposed act of terror.

“In your paper, you must describe your hypothetical attack and what will happen in the aftermath of the attack,” Maras wrote in the syllabus obtained by The Post.

The students are also reportedly required to outline a government-response plan to the attack.

Ryan Singel, editor of Wired’s “Threat Level” blog, offered a critique of The Post’s alarmism that is rife with sarcasm.

He writes:

I know you apologists will say such an exercise is intended to train analysts to know how to think like their adversaries, and be able to understand how to detect and disrupt attacks. But that’s just fancy intellectualizing.

…But we need to do more than keep our students from drawing up plots for terrorists and then e-mailing their homework to them.

We need to rein in Hollywood and put export controls on — or even better — ban terrorist-communications-masquerading-as-entertainment like “Live Free or Die,” “Homeland,” and “24“. We should even consider controls on well-intentioned fare like the “Red Dawn” and “Rambo” movies from the 1980s.

The only way to keep the terrorists in the Dark Ages is to keep them in the dark, even if we have to sacrifice by living there too. Our bright future depends on it.

But perhaps there is a bigger picture than whether it is dangerous for graduate students to plot terrorist attacks and government response scenarios in class. The terrorism-lurks-around-every-corner mentality has become the American norm in the years since 9/11’s devastation — even as there have been an underwhelming number of terrorist attacks during the same period.

The students may still be gaining valuable skill, however, in learning to set up and subsequently thwart acts of terrorism — especially if you consider the way “counterterrorism” has largely worked in the past decade or so. Government agencies like the FBI set up elaborate plots, find weak-minded patsies to play along, equip them and then sweep in to save the day.

The New York Times pointed out in April: “Of the 22 most frightening plans for attacks since 9/11 on American soil, 14 were developed in sting operations.”

The most recent FBI plot was earlier this month when the agency convinced a 21-year-old Bangladeshi man that he wanted to blow up the Federal Reserve Bank of New York:

From New York Daily News:

While en route to his target Wednesday morning, [Rezwanul ] Nafis bragged to his accomplices — actually undercovers working for the FBI — that he had a “Plan B” to conduct a suicide bombing operation if cops thwarted his Federal Reserve mission.

…[The FBI’s acting assistant director in New York] insisted the public was never at risk because the explosives he had accumulated with the help of an undercover FBI agent and an FBI source posing as his accomplices were inert.

The Federal agents keep their jobs, the American people remain terrified of anyone who is lightly brown on an airplane or wearing a turban near a government building, and the security/police state continues to grow for when the elitists in charge will need it the most: when factions of the citizen population realize the folly of bureaucracy and take the advice of the Founders regarding tyrannical government.

Until then, enjoy your radioactive airport body scans, your government’s ability to conduct surveillance and make arrests at will and without warrant, and the continued militarization of and Federalized partnerships being made by your local law enforcement.

Americans should be frightened, but not of a “terrorist’s” potential to acquire an NYU student’s notebook; it’s what students may be required to do by their Federal masters in the not-so-distant future that’s scary.

Polls Shaken By Sandy

If you rely on the polls mainstream media continually publish as a reliable source of information about who may be leading in the Presidential election, beware: The already skewed and confusing results are going to be increasingly unreliable in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.

According to The Hill, Gallup has suspended daily national polling due to the storm, and many voters in the battlegrounds of Pennsylvania, Virginia and New Hampshire may be out of pollsters’ reach just days before the election.

“As a pollster right now I couldn’t poll from Virginia up to New Hampshire; it would be a total blackout,” Brad Coker, managing director at Mason-Dixon Polling and Research told the publication. “All of New England is off the board, so you’re going into this last weekend basically not knowing.”

While the latest numbers before the polling blackout indicated a largely tied race with Mitt Romney pulling slightly ahead, it looks like Americans are going to have to wait until after the election to find out if a surprise landslide for either candidate is in store.

Some conservative pundits have speculated that, sensing a Romney lead, the left is going to use Hurricane Sandy to delegitimize a Republican victory should the candidate win.

Federal/Private Police State To Result From New Obama Order

A new executive order signed into law by President Barack Obama quietly last week further empowers the Department of Homeland Security by helping it to create local partnerships between Federal and private institutions “to address homeland security challenges.”

According to the executive order (the 141st signed by Obama), the purpose of the decree is to allow the Federal government and private entities to operate more closely “to use resources more efficiently, build on one another’s expertise, drive innovation, engage in collective action, broaden investments to achieve shared goals, and improve performance” in embolden National security.

“This approach recognizes that, given the complexities and range of challenges, we must institutionalize an all-of-Nation effort to address the evolving threats to the United States,” the executive order declares.

The efforts to encourage more Federal and private collaboration with regard to national security will be headed up by a “steering committee” consisting of representatives “at the Deputy agency head level” from a number of Federal agencies, including the Department of State, the Department of Defense, the Department of Justice, the Department of Homeland Security, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and others. The resulting Homeland Security Partnership Council will be chaired by either the Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism or a designee from the National Security Staff.

Besides allowing the government more wiggle room on private Homeland Security partnerships, the executive order will also reportedly give local law enforcement more incentive to operate alongside Federal agencies.

Left Targets Immature Voters

Recent reports show that, despite the increasingly kitschy campaign ads from the left (called by some pundits an attempt to lure younger, more immature voters), the campaign for President Barack Obama lacks youth support in key battleground States.

A survey of college-aged voters conducted by Sky News in Ohio, a political battleground State, shows Obama failing to energize young voters with the “rock star” persona he touted in 2008. Many young voters polled said that Obama’s youth appeal has been largely exposed as fraudulent to younger voters after four years of policy that doesn’t match.

From the article:

The president has been campaigning hard for the youth vote in Ohio, which is widely seen as a must-win state for both candidates.

But some students at Bowling Green State University (BGSU) told Sky News Mr Obama had failed to recreate the rock star appeal of his historic 2008 campaign, when hyped-up voters aged under 30 formed a vital part of his achievement.

The president still attracts a larger share of young voters than Mitt Romney, polls suggest, but he is now only polling with a slight overall lead over his rival in Ohio. That means he needs every vote he can get and with each one he loses, he is more exposed to Mr Romney’s gains in other areas.

Slipping youth support appears to be driving the left into a frenzy to create ads of little political value that seem to serve most as a ploy for a chuckle to cement the candidate in the minds of younger, less informed and less politically active Americans.

Like this “message from the greatest generation” from Michael Moore:

 

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f17fWth3YgA&w=560&h=315]

 

Or Lena Dunham’s tasteless sex-themed advertisement paid for by Obama for America:

 

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o6G3nwhPuR4&w=560&h=315]

Media Continues Election Race-Baiting

Mainstream media continue to push the idea that the upcoming Presidential election is about race.

In a television appearance Sunday on ABC’s This Week, Andrew Sullivan of The Daily Beast said that if Mitt Romney wins a majority of the vote in Florida and Virginia, the electoral map will look exactly as did the pro-slavery portion of the United States during the Civil War.

Sullivan was responding to an observation made by This Week host George Stephanopoulos noting that national polls indicate Romney holds the favor of six out of 10 white voters.

The Associated Press has also done its part to push the race narrative as the Presidential election season draws down. The news agency published a poll on Saturday titled “AP poll: Majority harbor prejudice against blacks.”

The article begins:

Racial attitudes have not improved in the four years since the United States elected its first black president, an Associated Press poll finds, as a slight majority of Americans now express prejudice toward blacks whether they recognize those feelings or not.

Those views could cost President Barack Obama votes as he tries for re-election, the survey found, though the effects are mitigated by some Americans’ more favorable views of blacks.

The AP’s polling data suggest that 51 percent of Americans harbor negative feelings toward blacks.

National Security And Kindergarten

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano is looking for potential future additions to the United States’ massive security/surveillance apparatus; her agency has begun to target kindergarten-aged children with cybersecurity training.

In a recent blog post on the Department of Homeland Security website, Napolitano writes of the importance of recognizing the next generation of government cybersecurity experts:

At DHS, we’re working to develop the next generation of leaders in cybersecurity while fostering an environment for talented staff to grow in this field.  We are building strong cybersecurity career paths within the Department, and in partnership with other government agencies.  We are also creating training and development opportunities to retain our most talented employees and ensure their professional development.  In collaboration with the National Security Agency, we are strengthening the nation’s educational infrastructure by supporting Centers of Academic Excellence across the country.

In addition, we are extending the scope of cyber education beyond the federal workplace through the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education, involving students from kindergarten through post-graduate school. And we sponsor the U.S. Cyber Challenge, a program that works with academia and the private sector to identify and develop the best and brightest cyber talent to meet our nation’s growing and changing security needs.

The DHS has been working desperately in recent years to identify young cybersecurity talent to work in what officials say will play a key role in keeping Americans safe.

Obama Wants ‘Secretary Of Business’

President Barack Obama, seeking to embolden his weak record on American business, said that he would appoint a “secretary of Business” if he is elected to a second term in the White House.

The President said in a recent interview that he would consolidate a number of government business agencies to create a “one-stop shop” for business oversight.

“I’ve said that I want to consolidate a whole bunch of government agencies. We should have one secretary of Business, instead of nine different departments that are dealing with things like giving loans to SBA [the Small Business Administration] or helping companies with exports,” he said in an interview with MSNBC.

Under a proposal that Obama put forth in January, six government commerce and trade agencies — including the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative and the Export-Import Bank — would be combined under one Federal agency. He also suggested the SBA should have a seat in the Presidential cabinet.

Congress was not enthusiastic about the President’s proposal, and the initiative failed to gain the support needed to move forward.

Despite Obama’s attempts to appeal to America’s business community, Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney is continuing with a message that paints the President as a decidedly anti-business candidate.

Political Opportunism And Sandy

As Hurricane Sandy threatened much of the United States’ Eastern seaboard, political pundits took the opportunity to shout back and forth about which Presidential candidate would cut the most funding to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The Huffington Post dug up a Mitt Romney quote from during the Republican primary. The candidate was discussing the possibility of doing away with FEMA and making emergency management the responsibility of the States.

“Every time you have an occasion to take something from the federal government and send it back to the states, that’s the right direction. And if you can go even further, and send it back to the private sector, that’s even better. Instead of thinking, in the federal budget, what we should cut, we should ask the opposite question, what should we keep?” Romney said of the agency.

Headlines from various other news organizations ran with the theme touting things like Salon’s “Mitt’s Frankenstorm economics.” That article claimed that Romney has a vision of an America where free enterprise takes advantage of people in helpless situations as a result of privatization.

Conservative publication Breitbart swung back at the Barack Obama apologist media by pointing out that the President’s proposal for the upcoming budget sequester also calls for cuts to FEMA.

The source reports:

Obama’s proposed cuts to FEMA include the following (emphasis added):

  • Flood Hazard Mapping and Risk Analysis Program – $8 million
  • State and Local Emergency Programs (non-defense) – $183 million
  • State and Local Emergency Programs (defense) – $5 million
  • United States Fire Administration and Training – $4 million
  • Salaries and Expenses (non-defense) – $75 million
  • Salaries and Expenses (defense) – $7 million
  • Disaster Relief – $580 million
  • Emergency Food and Shelter – $10 million
  • Radiological Emergency Preparedness Program – $3 million
  • National Pre-disaster Mitigation Fund – $3 million

Supreme Court Hears Wiretapping Arguments

Today, the Supreme Court will consider a matter (Amnesty International v. Clapper) that could take away the National Security Agency’s ability to eavesdrop on Americans’ email and cellular communications without first obtaining a warrant.

Following the events that took place on 9/11, President George W. Bush ordered amendments (FISA Amendment Act) to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) — which was originally implemented in 1970 — that allowed the government to monitor the U.S. citizens corresponding with people outside of the country.

Last month, when the U.S. House voted to reauthorize the amendments, civil liberties activists issued harsh criticism of the move.

A legal briefing filed by the American Civil Liberties Union stated: Under the FAA, the government can target anyone — human rights researchers, academics, attorneys, political activists, journalists — simply because they are foreigners outside the United States, and in the course of its surveillance it can collect Americans’ communications with those individuals.

Aside from gripes over the potential 4th Amendment violations, civil liberties activists call the Justice Department’s justification for disallowing challenges to the FISA Amendments bunk. Justice contends that Americans cannot challenge the government’s eavesdropping because they likely do not know whether they have been targeted.

“This law clearly intrudes on constitutionally protected privacy and free speech rights, and the courts have not just the authority but the obligation to intervene,” said ACLU deputy legal director Jameel Jaffer, who will appear before the justices. “The Court of Appeals rightly held that our clients have the right to challenge the law, because the substantial risk that their communications will be monitored under it has compelled them to take costly measures to protect information that is sensitive. We are hopeful that the Supreme Court will agree with the Court of Appeals that the constitutionality of the government’s surveillance powers can and should be tested in court.”

Any time information about those targeted for surveillance under FAA has come up, Federal officials have simply stated that national security prohibits them from releasing the information. Furthermore, the government has tried to block courts from determining the Constitutionality of its actions by using its own refusal to provide information as the bulwark to prevent court hearings.

Bill Binney worked at the NSA from 1965 to 2001, and J. Kirk Wiebe worked at the NSA from 1975 to 2001. Last week, the two penned a whistle-blowing column in POLITICO outlining why the NSA has too much power to spy on U.S. citizens:

The NSA cannot be trusted with this power. No agency should be. Since 2001, the NSA has been willing time and again to throw the Constitution overboard and snoop on innocent Americans who are not suspected of any wrongdoing. Using shockingly fast machines called NARUS devices, the NSA can monitor virtually every single phone call, email and text that passes through the United States. The agency can make a mirror image of all those communications, then funnel those copies to massive data vaults. When it wants to, the NSA can then go through and compile a dossier on each and every one of us. That would be well and good if the agency followed the law and tracked only suspected terrorists. But it does not. Under the warrantless wiretapping program and now the FISA Amendments Act, the NSA conducts blanket, dragnet surveillance of Americans’ international communications, even when there is not even a hint that we’ve done something wrong.

America’s Mighty Drones

The United Nations has its sights set on American drone policy in the Mideast after long condemning the use of drone strikes in areas where civilian casualties often result. Early next year, a U.N. investigative team is set to conduct a thorough investigation of civilian casualties resulting from the strikes.

In a speech last week at Harvard Law School, U.N. special rapporteur Ben Emmerson, who monitors counterterrorism efforts, said that the organization could explore the possibility that the drone strikes are war crimes.

Emmerson said:

[It is] alleged that since President Obama took office at least 50 civilians were killed in follow-up strikes when they had gone to help victims and more than 20 civilians have also been attacked in deliberate strikes on funerals and mourners. [U.N. consultant, professor of human rights] Christof Heyns … has described such attacks, if they prove to have happened, as war crimes. I would endorse that view.

Also last week, The Washington Post reported that U.S. officials are developing an expanded drone kill list that is “designed to go beyond existing kill lists, mapping plans for the ‘disposition’ of suspects beyond the reach of American drones.”

“The problem with the drone is it’s like your lawn mower,” Bruce Riedel, a former CIA analyst and Obama counterterrorism adviser, told The Post. “You’ve got to mow the lawn all the time. The minute you stop mowing, the grass is going to grow back.”

The CIA recently also submitted a proposal asking Congress to provide it with more drones for use in the Mideast. The unmanned aerial vehicles are tools that both President Barack Obama and challenger Mitt Romney agree should continue to be used in the same manner which they are now.

CEOs To Pressure Congress On Fiscal Cliff

A group of leading American CEOs has joined together in initiating a campaign to encourage Washington lawmakers to come to an agreement about what should be done to avoid the impending fiscal cliff.

According to The Hill, chief executives from dozens of the Nation’s biggest corporations have joined to coax an agreement to break the fiscal stalemate that has kept the 112th Congress from making progress with regard to the ever-expanding National debt.

“What we’re trying to do is drive support for the radical middle, the 70 percent of us … that really want to do the right thing down the middle and recognize that the only way you can govern is through compromise,” said David Cote, chairman and CEO of Honeywell.

The executives say they want a deal from Congress that would reform entitlement spending programs to cut the deficit and overhaul the tax code to create more revenue. This would strike balance between Democratic and Republican plans that Congress continues to argue over.

With $40 million in private donations for its cause, the group plans to embark on an aggressive advertising campaign after the elections to pressure Congress. Chief executives joining the cause include the heads of Aetna, Microsoft, JPMorgan Chase, General Electric and Boeing.

The CEOs were organized by the nonpartisan group Fix the Debt.