Spy Cameras Bust Victimless Criminal

The arrest of an Orlando, Fla., man for allegedly smoking marijuana illustrates how constant, real-time surveillance is changing the way law enforcement works.

According to an affidavit, an Orlando police sergeant was watching live video on the city’s Innovative Response to Improve Safety (IRIS) camera when he spotted 29-year-old Joe E. Haywood and a group of other men passing around what police suspected to be a marijuana joint.

According to WKMG Local 6:

Haywood was handcuffed and ordered to open his mouth but refused, so an officer tried for 30 seconds to use pressure points on his jaw to open his mouth, the affidavit said.  Officers said Haywood swallowed the joint during the incident and marijuana could be smelled on him, the report stated.

Officers said they then noticed a green leafy substance, which they described as a unburned cannabis leaf, on Haywood’s teeth, according the affidavit.

Haywood is jailed and charged with the misdemeanor of possessing 20 grams or less of cannabis, punishable by up to a year in jail, and felony tampering with physical evidence, punishable by up to five years in prison.

While many people would applaud the beefed up surveillance in crime-prone areas, with thousands of laws on the books and increasing law enforcement use of aerial video surveillance across the board, critics say the Nation is on a slippery slope to guilty until proven innocent.

Internet Censorship Via Executive Order

There was a fight earlier this year about Internet freedom and privacy as Congress attempted to create legislation (SOPA, PIPA, CISPA, ACTA) that would give government more control over the Internet. When Internet companies and the public expressed disdain for such a measure, legislators backed down.

Now they have a different plan.

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) sent a letter earlier this week to President Barack Obama urging him to forgo Congress and pass cybersecurity legislation via his powers of executive order.

“While efforts to reach consensus continue, I fear that the Congress will be unable to pass meaningful cybersecurity legislation this year. Therefore, I believe the time has come for you to use your full authority to protect the U.S. economy and the networks we depend on from future cyber attack[s],” Feinstein contends. “While an executive order cannot convey protection from liability that private sector companies may face, your administration can issue cybersecurity standards and provide technical assistance to companies willing to take voluntary steps to improve their security.”

The Senator believes that the Nation faces grave and imminent national and economic security implications as long as the Internet is free and that there is no time to wait for Congressional legislation.

“These are meaningful, if limited, steps that can be taken now,” she said. “The threats to our national and economic security are simply too great to wait for legislation.”

Feinstein said the President should also encourage more collaboration between the Department of Homeland Security and private enterprise in the way of information sharing in order to lessen threats to national security.

A plea similar to Feinstein’s was made earlier in the month by Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), who also cosponsored Senator Joseph Lieberman’s latest attempt at legislation ceding control over the Internet to the government.

“[B]ecause it is very unclear whether the Senate will come to agreement on cybersecurity legislation in the near future, I urge you to explore and employ every lever of executive power that you possess to protect this country from the cyber threat,” Rockefeller wrote in a letter to Obama. “We must act to address our cyber vulnerabilities as soon as possible and many components of the Cybersecurity Act are amenable to implementation via executive order, normal regulatory processes, or other executive action under the authorities of the Homeland Security Act.”

Cybersecurity bills that have already been proposed have been met with harsh criticism from a number of conservative lawmakers, along with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and a number of Internet-based companies. The critics say that such legislation opens the door for the Federal government to impede Internet commerce with burdensome regulation and could have a damning effect on Internet free speech.

White House chief counterterrorism adviser John Brennan has said recently that the Obama Administration is considering the possibility of Internet regulation through executive order in the wake of recent failed legislative attempts to implement the controls.

Gas Prices To Reach Record Highs

According to estimates from AAA, an explosion at a Venezualen oil refinery and the effects of Hurricane Isaac are driving the price of American fuel through the roof leading up to Labor Day.

On Wednesday, gas prices shot up an average of 5 cents per gallon throughout the Nation. At a national average of $3.80 in the reading released Wednesday, gas is at its highest level since early May. Wednesday’s was the biggest one-day spike in prices since February 2011, when conflict in Libya threatened oil supplies.

Some analysts expect gas prices to reach national averages of $4 per gallon by the end of September, which could become a key topic in the upcoming Presidential debates. The first debate is scheduled to take place on Oct. 3.

There is some speculation that President Barack Obama will release supplies of the Nation’s Strategic Petroleum Reserves in order to ease political liability for the high gas prices.

“Given this administration’s belligerent rhetoric against the oil industry, it’s going to be very easy for Romney to pin the blame on Obama,” Stephen Schork, president of Schork Group Inc., told Bloomberg. “The White House will be on the defensive. It makes an SPR release likely sooner rather than later.”

America Is Done

A historical moment is upon us.

As the Republican National Convention trudges on in Tampa, Fla., many Americans are unwittingly witnessing what the death of government by the people looks like. News reports of contention among two factions of the party — the old guard, follow-the-leader types and the raucous, new-to-politics Ron Paul types — from the Republican Presidential primary season notwithstanding, the inevitable took place on Tuesday as the Mitt Romney/Paul Ryan GOP was validated.

Watching the C-SPAN live footage of the delegates taking to their microphones State by State to cheerfully assign their delegates to the Romney/Ryan ticket was painful. It was painful not because I believe there is any doubt that Romney amassed the largest number of delegates, but because it was the most sincere representation of what has become the American electoral system that I have witnessed throughout this entire campaign season.

We are Republicans; we are one.

Republicans, at the behest of their corporate-crony leadership, have adorned themselves with a veneer of self-reliance and objectivist philosophy that is proudly touted as the collective party ideal (sound mutually exclusive at all?). But the facade is a self-desecrating one, made up of mere talking points that serve only to occupy useful idiots. Real ideas, real suggestions and real optimism about a renaissance in the way American government works are not welcome from the Republican useful idiots. The function of the masses on the convention floor is to march, lockstep, to their own demise.

That is why they have been told to be excited about a new “conservative” leader who just happened to have been the inspiration for Obamacare.

That is why the Vice Presidential candidate licked the shoes of the same corporate masters as liberals and neocons when he voted for auto industry bailouts and damning inflationary spending.

That is why they are to be excited about a Presidential candidate with many of the same financial friends as the current Usurper in Chief.

That is why, despite Romney’s past Constitutional missteps, they are to believe his Administration would have a restorative effect on American freedom and liberty.

And for those who repudiate any of the things the party wants them to believe: They are shills, part of an evil liberal conspiracy to re-elect President Barack Obama. 2+2=5. If you don’t like it, you are against us, this collective, this Republican Party; and we don’t want you here.

The message was made astoundingly clear by the treatment of Paul and his delegates. The candidate was reportedly offered a speech, but only if Romney’s people approved the message and were given an endorsement. Paul turned down the opportunity. Fighting illegal rule changes proved futile, as months of fighting was undone in seconds with a close voice vote, the result of which determined by John Boehner. That’s fair, right?

Media are calling Paul’s revolution over. Many of Paul’s people are looking to Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson, and a handful of them are likely hanging their heads and giving up. The Republican Party is chastising them for not supporting Romney. “A third party vote, a Paul write-in, is a vote for Obama.”

But perhaps a more poignant criticism should be foisted on those who believe Romney will save the Nation, or even help it: A vote for Romney is a vote for ignorance; it is a vote against liberty. A vote for Romney is bowing to a political machine that values your opinion as much as it values America’s founding principles. A vote for Romney is to spit on the graves of men who bravely died in the name of freedom. A vote for Romney is a vote for Obama, they are one in the same: representatives of the Grim Reaper sent to do in our Constitutional republic once and for all.

It may be too late to save the Nation, but isn’t it worth a try?

Administrative Subpoena Loved By Government Spies

Americans believe that the Bill of Rights, or what is left of it, protects them from unreasonable and warrantless search and seizure under the 4th Amendment. This simply isn’t true, and hundreds of thousands of warrantless searches are likely under way as you read this.

Thanks to a helpful tool in the Federal government’s Soviet-esque spy arsenal called the “administrative subpoena” — the power of which has been emboldened in recent years by the Patriot Act and about 335 other Federal statutes — you no longer have the right to remain secure in your home, papers and effects.

The administrative subpoena gives Federal bureaucrats the ability to glean a variety of information about you from just about any entity that you choose to conduct business with. And while the government would have you believe that the tool is necessary to thwart terrorism and drug activity, an exposé published by Wired tells a different story:

Some of the stranger statutes authorizing administrative subpoenas involve the Agriculture Department’s power to investigate breaches of the Floral Research and Consumer Information Act and the Fresh Cut Flowers and Fresh Cut Greens Promotion and Information Act. The Commerce Department has administrative subpoena power for enforcing laws relating to the Atlantic tuna and the Northern Pacific halibut. It also has those powers when it comes to enforcing the National Weather Modification Act of 1976, requiring “any person to submit a report before, during, or after that person may engage in any weather modification attempt or activity.”

The administrative subpoena is also widely used to extract information from cellphone and Internet providers including location data, Web activity and information regarding private correspondence.

School Board Victimizes 3-Year-Old Deaf Boy

A Nebraska school district is telling the parents of a deaf 3-year-old boy that the sign language for his name, Hunter Spanjer, looks too much like a gun and must be changed.

Despite the fact that Hunter uses Signing Exact English (S.E.E.), the standard sign language, for his name, the school district says that the gestures he makes too closely resemble a gun. The imagery of a “dangerous weapon” is created when he crosses his index and middle fingers and waves them slightly.

But, the child’s name apparently offends the Grand Island School districts “Weapons in Schools” Board Policy 8470 which forbids “any instrument…that looks like a weapon.” This apparently includes a 3-year-old’s hands.

“Anybody that I have talked to thinks this is absolutely ridiculous. This is not threatening in any way,” Hunter’s grandmother Janet Logue told the local NCN news channel.

 

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

 

“We are working with the parents to come to the best solution we can for the child,” Jack Sheard, Grand Island Public Schools spokesperson, told KOLN.

The American Civil Liberties Union has urged the district to reconsider its deeming of the child’s name as an offensive gesture.

Gold Still A Sound Investment

Ahead of the annual monetary policy gabfest at Jackson Hole retreat in Wyoming, members of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve have been quietly hinting that another round of stimulus or “quantitative easing” (inflationary money printing) may be on the horizon.

Speculation that the Fed will again act and questions about its continued near-zero interest rate policy and what long-term effects a new round of quantitative easing will have on the U.S. economy have created some volatility in markets. But one area where volatility has been remarkably low (not surprisingly given historical evidence) is precious metals.

Over the next 18 months, most analysts expect gold prices to fluctuate little between $1,750 and $1,800 with a high side of $2,000. As the European Union continues to falter and talk of the U.S. economic cliff becomes louder and more constant, precious metal prices can only improve. Silver should stick it out in the mid $30s per ounce range over the 18-month period, but economic uncertainty has the potential to push the lesser precious metal to unchartered highs, according to some market watchers.

While investing in physical gold and silver is a good idea in the eyes of most well-prepared investors, it is also a good time to reap benefits from investments in precious metal-mining operations.

Over the past four weeks, gold and silver shares have outperformed Standard & Poor’s 500 index with gold up by about 3.3 percent and silver 9.1 percent. Analysts expect further upward mobility.

Surviving The Storm

With the prospect of Hurricane Isaac following a similar trajectory as Hurricane Katrina did seven years ago nearly to the day and as thousands have been urged to evacuate affected areas, it is a good time for preppers to take an opportunity to re-evaluate their plans for the unexpected.

When weather-created emergencies happen, some of the most obvious and easily obtained survival items quickly become commodities in short supply as the thousands of people who have neglected any sort of preparation rush to acquire them to ride out the storm in their homes.

These things include:

  • Extra fuel for vehicles and generators.
  • Food that can be prepared without the need for electricity.
  • A camping stove and extra fuel.
  • A store of clean water. (Remember to store enough for one gallon per person daily.)
  • Flashlights and candles for light.
  • A battery-operated radio.
  • Batteries.

In the time directly following a weather-related emergency, these are often the first things that will fly off of store shelves, assuming travel to stores is possible, as survivors prepare to live as comfortably as possible without basic infrastructure. Not knowing how long it could take for power and other utilities to be restored makes it important for those prepping to consider stocking up to at least a month’s worth of these supplies.

In the event that travel is impossible, not having these things on hand can greatly lessen your chances of surviving a catastrophe. With no available methods of travel, even the most minor injuries or medical conditions can become serious, making the preparation of a comprehensive home first-aid kit paramount.

Your first-aid kit should include:

  • Acetaminophen, ibuprofen and aspirin tablets.
  • Ipecac syrup and activated charcoal.
  • Antibacterial soap.
  • Elastic wrap.
  • Triangular bandages.
  • Scissors with rounded tips.
  • Adhesive tape and 2-inch gauze.
  • Disposable, instant ice bags.
  • Bandages of assorted sizes.
  • Antibiotic ointment.
  • Extras of prescription medications required regularly.

As with any catastrophic situation, the desperate or simply criminally inclined will seek opportunities to victimize anyone left in a compromised state. It is important to have on hand firearms, ammunition and other weapons in order to protect your loved ones and property from looters.

In the unfortunate event that you are forced to evacuate your home, a bug-out bag for each member of your family containing essential survival items as well as a collection of important personal documents and cash will aid in comfort and survival.

For more information related to surviving catastrophic situations check out Bob Livingston’s How to Survive the Collapse of Civilization and In Case of Emergency! Lifesaving Tips for your Family’s Survival.

Rand Paul Wants Legal Hemp

Senator Rand Paul (R.-Ky.) is currently working to do away with Federal laws that classify industrial hemp in the same way as marijuana, a move that he says would have lasting economic benefits.

Currently, the Federal government effectively prohibits production of the non-hallucinogenic plant that can be used to make products including twine, paper and clothing. Even though 27 States have made some moves to facilitate hemp production, farmers who grow the plants still risk Federal raids.

“The rest of the world can grow hemp and we’re not, so we’re losing out on that product,” Paul said. “You know our farmers are one of the greatest parts of our economy. We do things very well in agriculture. If we would legalize hemp I think we would be one of the leaders of the world. I think we have a chance of passing it.”

Paul presented legislation in the Senate last month — similar to a House bill proposed by his father Ron — that would make it legal for farmers to grow industrial hemp crops.

Hemp advocates contend that by allowing hemp farming, the $400 million industry would lead to “instant job creation.” Pointing out that hemp is widely used in the manufacture of clothing, it was noted recently that President Barack Obama is raising campaign funds by selling a Monique Péan scarf on his website made of 45 percent cotton and 55 percent hemp. The hemp is imported from China.

Golden Platform Additions For GOP

A return to the gold standard in American currency is something that has been constantly cited by Republican Presidential candidate Ron Paul as a viable option to help the dollar reclaim its strength. Despite mainstream politicos writing off Paul’s economic ideas as kooky, the GOP is set to make at least investigating a gold standard part of the Party platform.

According to CNBC, drafts of the Republican Party platform, which will be adopted at the convention this week, include provisions for setting up a commission that would investigate the effects of a return to the gold standard. There is also a call for an audit of the Federal Reserve, another of Paul’s utmost goals.

The commission would only have the power to make recommendations, but could serve to educate politicians and the public about the pros and cons of a return to gold.

“There is a growing recognition within the Republican Party and in America more generally that we’re not going to be able to print our way to prosperity,” Sean Fieler, chairman of the American Principles Project, told Financial Times.

In the Republican platforms of both 1980 and 1984, gold was mentioned as a possible way to improve American economic affairs. And in 1981, President Ronald Reagan created a commission to examine the possibility of returning to a gold standard. It has not been part of the Republican Party platform since.

Stimulus Likely Amid Election Heat-Up

Get ready for another round of fiat money production courtesy of the Federal Reserve; the central bank says if economic data doesn’t turn around, it will fire up the presses “fairly soon.”

Recently released minutes from meetings of the Federal Open Market Committee indicate that Fed officials have concerns about slow growth and the state of European economic affairs.

The stimulus is not set in stone, but most analysts contend that it would not be unlikely for Americans to see a third round of quantitative easing (money printing) announced at the Fed meeting in September.

“Many members judged that additional monetary accommodation would likely be warranted fairly soon unless incoming information pointed to a substantial and sustainable strengthening in the pace of the economic recovery,” the minutes of the July 31-Aug. 1 FOMC meeting said.

Fed policymakers also cited conditions that “warrant exceptionally low levels for the federal funds rate at least through late 2014” as a reason to possibly extend the duration the main interest rate will remain near zero, the minutes show.

There has been widespread speculation that the Fed will act in the months prior to the Presidential election in order to create a temporary economic boom that would aid President Barack Obama in re-election. This is despite Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke’s assertion that the Federal Reserve makes no decisions based on political considerations.

Liberal economist Paul Krugman lambasted conservative pressure on the Fed earlier this month in a post on a New York Times blog, writing: “It really makes no sense — except in terms of politics. I really believe that we have reached a point where the Fed is afraid to do its job, for fear of being accused of helping Obama.”

Picket Fences Are Long Gone

The American middle class is shrinking rapidly, and those holding on to the vestiges of the socioeconomic bracket once exemplary of the American dream now have it worse than ever before.

This, according to a new study out from the Pew Research Center, is a trend that will most likely continue in the United States. As both President Barack Obama and challenger Mitt Romney attempt to make their case to the American public of how they plan to embolden the American middle class, the population segment is in the worst shape it’s been since World War II.

In 1971, about 61 percent of American households were described as middle class. Today, just 51 percent fall into the group. The most rapid decline in middle-class affluence, according to Pew, has occurred over the past decade.

According to Pew:

For the middle-income group, the “lost decade” of the 2000s has been even worse for wealth loss than for income loss. The median income of the middle-income tier fell 5%, but median wealth (assets minus debt) declined by 28%, to $93,150 from $129,582.

The research center notes that the dismal past decade the middle class has endured has taken its toll on the confidence of middle-class Americans, with 23 percent doubting they will have the savings to last throughout retirement and only two-thirds believing that hard work guarantees one might get ahead.

“The notion that we are a society with a large middle class, with lots of economic and social mobility and a belief that each generation does better than the next — these are among the core tenets of what it means to be an American,” said Paul Taylor, the Pew Research Center’s executive vice president. “But that’s not necessarily the case anymore.”

Ruby Ridge Tactics Now Modus Operandi?

This week, two decades ago, Americans were watching reports of the horrific escalation of the events that occurred in Ruby Ridge, Idaho, where agents of the Federal government terrorized and killed members of Randy Weaver’s family after he failed to appear in court on a charge of selling to an undercover Federal agent shotguns that were slightly too short.

The standoff began on Aug. 21, 1992 when agents skulking through the woods near Weaver’s secluded residence happened upon his son Sam Weaver and friend Kevin Harris along with a family dog. The agents, alleging the dog had tried to attack them, killed the animal. The Weavers’ 14-year-old son, not realizing who had fired at his dog, fired a shot in response before attempting to flee; he was shot in the back. A gunfight between the agents and Harris ensued, resulting in U.S. Marshal William Degan’s death.

The agents later shot Weaver’s wife, Vicki (who was holding a 10-month-old baby in her arms), in the face as his teenage daughter Sara ran toward her mother and the safety of their home.

After his surrender and trial, both Weaver and Harris were cleared of the most serious charges stemming from the incident.

From Reason in October 1993:

On July 8, 1993, in what The New York Times called “a strong rebuke of the Government’s use of force during an armed siege,” a jury in Boise found Randy Weaver, 45 and almost always described in the media as a “white separatist,” and family friend Kevin Harris, 25, not guilty on six of eight counts, including murder of a U.S. marshal, conspiracy to provoke a confrontation with the government, aiding and abetting murder, and harboring a fugitive.

Weaver was found guilty on two minor counts: failure to appear on an earlier firearms charge and violating conditions of bail on the same count. As of this writing, he is still in custody, with sentencing scheduled for September 28. Although the maximum sentence for the two crimes is 15 years, his sentence is likely to be about a year, roughly the amount of time he has already served. Kevin Harris went free the day of the verdict.

It seems, however, that at least some within the FBI were aware that what they were doing was unlawful and unConstitutional as demonstrated by a memo written by FBI Deputy Assistant Director Danny Coulson while the siege was under way:

OPR 004477

Something to Consider

1. Charge against Weaver is Bull Shit.

2. No one saw Weaver do any shooting.

3. Vicki has no charges against her.

4. Weaver’s defense. He ran down the hill to see what dog was barking at. Some guys in camys shot his dog. Started shooting at him. Killed his son. Harris did the shooting [of Degan]. He [Weaver] is in pretty strong legal position.

The U.S. Marshals considered Weaver a very dangerous man who was affiliated with various “right-wing” hate organizations and who, they were told, had spoken ill of Federal government officials and likely posed a significant threat.

In 1995, however, the Senate Judiciary Committee issued a report that called the threat-profile that the government had compiled about Weaver seriously flawed, noting:

…as marshals investigating the Weaver case learned facts that contradicted information they previously had been provided, they did not adequately integrate their updated knowledge into their overall assessment of who Randy Weaver was or what threat he might pose. If the Marshals made any attempt to assess the credibility of the various people who gave them information about Weaver, they never recorded their assessments. Thus, rather than maintaining the Threat Source Profile as a living document, the marshals added new reports to an ever-expanding file, and their overall assessment never really changed. These problems rendered it difficult for other law enforcement officials to assess the Weaver case accurately without the benefit of first-hand briefings from persons who had continuing involvement with him.

Two decades after the incident at Ruby Ridge, law enforcement officials and the Department of Homeland Security have made it easier than ever before to define American citizens as right-wing extremists. All the while, law enforcement down to the smallest hometown police departments have become militarized to the point of or beyond how the agents at Ruby Ridge were equipped.

The paranoid and ever-expanding security apparatus has, in the time since Ruby Ridge, created information “fusion centers” where they compile threat-profiles about religious people, pro- and anti-abortion activists, environmental activists, Ron Paul supporters, Tea Partiers, Constitutionalists, and just about anyone else who has a political opinion.

The Patriot and other Federal acts have given government the power to spy on any person at any time without warrant. And the President of the United States has made clear that Federal operatives reserve the right to kill American citizens that they deem “enemy combatants” or to indefinitely detain them without trial.

Law enforcement was met with condemnation for tactics of haphazardly profiling as a dangerous radical and carrying out a shoot-first-think-later operation against Weaver and his family; two decades later, however, it seems to many people that government has adopted the dangerous policy as a way to exercise its power over all Americans.

Antibiotics Can Make Kids Fat

Researchers are exploring a new culprit in the ever-growing childhood obesity epidemic: rampant use of antibiotic drugs to treat minor childhood illness.

For decades, farmers have been doping commercial livestock with antibiotics because the drugs increase, by about 15 percent, the weight of cattle, pigs and chickens.

A new study from the International Journal of Obesity suggests that treating infants with antibiotics during the first several months of their lives could have the same fattening effects. Babies that were given antibiotics within the first six months of life were more likely to be overweight as toddlers than those not exposed to the drugs. The study couldn’t prove beyond the shadow of doubt, however, that antibiotics were the only cause of weight gain.

A similar study examined the medical records of children born in the U.K. in the early 1990s and also found that infants given antibiotics within the first six months of life were more likely to be overweight or obese as toddlers when compared to babies not exposed to the drugs.

Other studies on the effects of antibiotics on the gut microbes of lab mice might explain the reason behind the weight gain. Researchers found that in the mice, antibiotics changed the makeup of gut bacteria that are instrumental in helping the body break down food and store proper amounts of fat.

Obama’s Media Strategy: Control Questions

President Barack Obama has been avoiding the White House press corps in a bid to avoid taking hard-hitting questions in the middle of an election cycle, but he is giving interviews to reporters from local news organizations throughout the Nation. The only condition is that he gets to choose the questions.

According to White House press corps reporter Keith Koffler, Obama spoke to press corps reporters on Monday for about 20 minutes and took questions from four reporters. The exchange was not exactly in-depth or hard-hitting.

But the President has been talking to members of local media, particularly in swing States. On Monday, he spoke with reporters from Norfolk, Va., and Jacksonville, Fla., as well as one from San Diego. The President’s chosen topic: blaming Republicans for automatic military spending cuts that will take place under sequestration if a budget agreement is not reached.

Koffler notes that all three reporters represent areas that benefit heavily from defense contracting.

From FCN Jacksonville (watch the interview here):

WASHINGTON — On Monday afternoon, First Coast News anchor Donna Deegan sat down with President Barack Obama for a one-on-one interview.

They talked about Medicare, and how Jacksonville’s military could be affected if potential sequestration cuts go through.

From NBC 7 San Diego (watch the interview here):

President Barack Obama sits down in an exclusive interview with NBC 7 military reporter Lea Sutton to discuss the impact of sequestration on San Diego’s military community.

From WVEC Norfolk (watch the interview here):

WASHINGTON, DC–President Barack Obama hopes to avoid painful defense cuts that could come about under the congressional sequestration process.

In an exclusive interview with 13News, the president said he doubts any deal can be reached before the November election, but he’s confident big military reductions will not actually take place.

Virginia stands to lose 207,000 jobs and $21 billion in economic impact, according to a George Mason University study…

The reporters were each given less than 10 minutes for their interviews, leaving very little opportunity for the reporters to steer the conversation from the President’s topic of choice.

A quote from former President John F. Kennedy — to whom Obama is often compared — as he spoke to members of the American Newspaper Publishers Association on April 27, 1961 comes to mind in considering the current President’s media manipulation.

No President should fear public scrutiny of his program. For from that scrutiny comes understanding and from that understanding comes support or opposition. And both are necessary. I am not asking your newspapers to support an Administration, but I am asking your help in the tremendous task of informing and alerting the American people. For I have complete confidence in the response and dedication of our citizens whenever they are fully informed.

I not only could not stifle controversy among your readers– I welcome it. This Administration intends to be candid about its errors; for as a wise man once said: “An error does not become a mistake until you refuse to correct it.” We intend to accept full responsibility for our errors; and we expect you to point them out when we miss them.

In the same speech Kennedy noted that the press is Constitutionally protected “not primarily to amuse and entertain, not to emphasize the trivial and sentimental, not to simply ‘give the public what it wants’—but to inform, to arouse, to reflect, to state our dangers and our opportunities, to indicate our crises and our choices, to lead, mold educate and sometimes even anger public opinion.”

Obama aide Stephanie Cutter recently explained that the Administration believes “Entertainment Tonight” is just as important as the White House press corps to informing the American people. Even without real reporting, that statement and the President’s actions raise questions for many about the contempt the “most-transparent Administration in history” holds for a well-informed populace.

Pussy Riot, A Unwitting Tool For Tyranny

A shocking name, a group of young females rallying against a repressive government with passion and vigor in a bid to shine a bright, international light on the evils of tyranny: What more could American mainstream media have asked for?

For media, Pussy Riot is the stuff of underdog story dreams. They are Russians decrying the actions of the former KGB agent and questionably elected President Vladimir Putin. And he put his metaphorical boot on their throats. Youth, vigor, a name just uncomfortable enough to be catchy, and a disdain for the rigid, caste-like Russian society met with government persecution. And, as an added bonus, no matter how many times they hear it, Americans are more likely than not to stay tuned to a television or radio broadcast upon suddenly hearing the mention of the words “Pussy Riot” — verbal shock and awe.

Last February, the punk-rock outfit presented parishioners of the Saviour Cathedral, a Russian Orthodox Church in Moscow, with a less-than-holy impromptu performance during which they implored the Virgin Mary to remove Putin from the nation’s presidency. They have been jailed since.

Last week, mainstream press was abuzz with reports about the outcome of the Moscow trial of Pussy Riot members Maria Alyokhina, 24; Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 22; and Yekaterina Samutsevich, 29. They were convicted of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred and sentenced to two years of hard time.

The Kremlin has come under immense condemnation from international media outlets, activists groups, humanitarian watchdogs, celebrities and various governments. The U.S. State Department took a break from its own war on government critics — namely, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange — to condemn the Russian court, claiming concern over “the verdict and the disproportionate sentences… and the negative impact on freedom of expression in Russia.” A White House spokesman also said America has “serious concerns about the way that these young women have been treated by the Russian judicial system.”

No word yet about whether or not Americans should expect a statement from the White House regarding draconian sentencing for American non-violent drug offenders, questionable military-beat-down-style arrests of American protestors in recent history (and likely many more to come), universal electronic spying that has led to government terrorism charges linked to online activity, or vast surveillance of certain religious groups within the Nation.

And, given some recent turns in America’s Federal policy toward dissidence or perception thereof (think NDAA, a continual move toward total surveillance and the recommendations of just about any document produced by the Department of Homeland Security), one could likely venture to say that a group of scantily clad punk rockers bursting into American churches with similar intentions would face at least some charges.

This, after all, was not Pussy Riot’s first gig. According to a recent opinion piece in The New York Times by Russia analyst Vadim Nakitin, Pussy Rioter Tolokonnikova asserted her free-speech rights back in 2008 “naked and heavily pregnant, in a public orgy at a Moscow museum.”

It is also worthy of note that a recent poll found most Russians don’t really care for Pussy Riot or its political agenda; only 5 percent of respondents argued that the members should have been absolved of charges. This isn’t heavily surprising, considering the fringe ideas of the activist musicians that resemble a hyped-up anarchist and overly sexualized version of America’s Occupy Wall Street anti-capitalism.

So why is the band’s sentence of two years’ imprisonment a big deal, worthy of American media’s total attention? One explanation could be the fact that many Americans are beginning to reject the image of the heavily bearded, turban-clad common enemy that unified the masses in acceptance of a full-on assault on American liberty. And as more and more Americans wake up to the fact that the most dangerous of enemies of the American way of life don’t live in holes in remote Mideast deserts, but rather walk marbled halls in Washington or have direct influence on those who do, the criminal enterprise that is the Federal government needs to change the narrative.

This has worked before. Does it feel like it is getting chilly in here?

Congress Agrees To Expand Presidential Power

Political polarization is supposedly at an all-time high as Americans enjoy a tedious election-season that the populace is told pits big government, socialist values that would impress the likes of Karl Marx against small government, pro-business ideals that should satisfy any conservative.

So polarized is the political landscape that legislators are unable to produce a budget for the United States because of sheer gridlock, the conversation about social issues has denigrated into screaming on both sides and it is political heresy to come to agreement with your political opponent no matter what heights of idiocy you must reach in proving your dissident.

But lawmakers recently and oddly came to agreement that the power of the President should be met with less political opposition, at least when it comes to making certain appointments.

As Americans have been busy trying to make sense of the upcoming Presidential election, Congress quietly agreed on a matter of importance: making sure that, without Senate approval and without retribution, 170 people can be pointed to powerful positions by whoever assumes the Presidency.

The Presidential Appointment Efficiency and Streamlining Act of 2011 — sponsored by Senators Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) — eliminates the need to obtain Senate confirmation for about 170 executive branch posts. The act was passed by the Senate last summer, met House approval last month and was signed into law by President Barack Obama earlier this month.

The legislation’s sponsors claim it simply reduces the amount of time it takes for a newly elected President to make low-level appointments. But the list includes top public-policy positions within the following Departments: Defense, State, Labor, Treasury, Housing and Urban Development, and Veterans Affairs. A full list can be viewed here.

Lieberman said of the legislation:

This bipartisan legislation represents the Senate at its best. A problem was identified, and Democrats and Republicans worked together to craft a solution. Now, future Administrations will be able to get their teams in place more quickly, and the Senate will be able focus its time and energy on the most important Executive Branch appointments. In no way does this bill erode the Senate’s role of “advice and consent.” Rather, it strengthens the Senate’s power by freeing us up to concentrate on nominees who will actually shape national policy.

Despite Lieberman’s assertion that many of these positions do little in the way of shaping public policy, Americans concerned about the growing power of the Presidency might argue that lessening the vetting process is just another step in the direction of complete top-down political control in the Nation.

Federal Aid Disadvantages Middle-Class Students

The massive amount of student loan debt owed by U.S. citizens is, according to some economists, creating a financial bubble that is bound to burst with dire circumstances. Now, new research shows how student loan debt may be a way wealth is redistributed from one generation to the next.

Research presented to the American Sociological Association finds that college students from middle-class families are more likely to rack up massive sums of student loan debt than their peers from both lower- and higher-income backgrounds. The debt, in some cases, can lead to a life-long limitation on career advancement.

“Many middle-income families make too much money for their children to qualify for student aid packages,” said study author Jason N. Houle, a Robert Wood Johnson Health and Society Scholar at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. “While at the same time, they may not have the financial means to cover the high costs of college.”

The researchers note that nearly 41 percent of college students leave school with loan debt. They found that students whose families earned between $40,000 and $59,000 a year finished school with an average of over $6,000 more in student loan debt than their peers whose families earned less than $40,000 per year. Students whose families made between $60,000 and $99,000 annually averaged about $4,000 more in student loan debt than those whose families earned less than $40,000 per year.

As a growing number of low-income students receive Federal aid, colleges are also raising tuition prices which, in effect, require a higher debt burden from those ineligible for Federal aid.

Traditionally, Federal financial aid has been seen as a way to level the playing field for students who want to rise above their low-income upbringings and compete for the same jobs that students able to pay for college seek. But Houle’s research shows that it is being done to the detriment of middle-class students.

“We value the American Dream and believe that achieving a college degree is all you need to overcome the disadvantages of family backgrounds,” Houle said. “My study begins to challenge this idea. The fact that some young adults are starting their careers on an unequal footing just by virtue of how much money they owe, may ultimately affect their capacity to save money and their ability to take a low or un-paid but career-advancing opportunity.”

Read more on how government is devaluing college education here.

Birthday Wishes For A True Statesman

Today, Personal Liberty wishes a happy birthday to Republican Presidential candidate, veteran Congressman and America’s foremost modern champion of liberty, freedom, sound money and a return to the values of a Constitutional Republic: Ron Paul.

During his more than 30 years as a Congressman, Paul has held true to his values and has rejected the corrupting influences that render so many of our leaders criminally culpable in the coming financial and societal collapse of the United States.

As Paul, who today turns 77 years old, continues to fight against those in positions of power within the Republican Party for the simple right to have his voice heard at the coming convention in Tampa, Fla., Americans who recognize the dire state of affairs in their Nation would do well to heed his decades of warnings.

Paul is scheduled to retire from Congress after November. With few in Washington likely to pick up where Paul will leave off, every American champion of liberty should consider what he or she can do continue the Congressman’s career-spanning uphill battle against those who wish to deliver the final blows to the Constitutional republic.

And lack of political power is no excuse for any American citizen to feel helpless in furthering Paul’s legacy. In his book Liberty Defined, the Congressman explains why the American everyman has at his disposal something more powerful than any Washington bureaucrat, moneyed special interest or tyrannical big-government psychopath:

Ideas are very important to the shaping of society. In fact, they are more powerful than bombings or armies or guns. And this is because ideas are capable of spreading without limit. They are behind all the choices we make. They can transform the world in a way that governments and armies cannot. Fighting for liberty with ideas makes more sense to me than fighting with guns or politics or political power. With ideas, we can make real change that lasts.

If the Republican Party, by illegal maneuvering and Soviet tactics, refuses Paul his earned position at the convention to espouse his ideas, let it be known to all of the corporate cronies, RINOS and neocons who shamelessly pretend to value the Constitution in order to further their criminal aspirations: They may quiet Paul for now, but the ideas that he put forth — based on the very ideas of the Nation’s Founders — ring loud and clear in the hearts and minds of an army of Constitutional defenders.

Happy birthday to Ron Paul, who is not America’s last true statesman, but the ideological father of a million more.

Why Obama, Romney Fear Gary Johnson

Weeks ago, when President Barack Obama overstated the role of government in American entrepreneurship with his infamous “you didn’t build that” remark, Americans from border to border made it overwhelmingly clear that respect for the self-made man is still alive and well in the United States.

Some businesses put up signs of protest noting that they did indeed build the businesses they own by the sweat of their own brows and sacrifice. Meanwhile, pundits across the political spectrum and American citizens who have witnessed firsthand the difficulties involved in building a business from the ground up jumped to the defense of their entrepreneurial compatriots.

Criticism for his lack of entrepreneurial understanding is nothing new for the President. Obama is the Commander in Chief, the utmost of resume embellishments; but beyond that — Ivy League education, community organizer, lawyer, professor, Senator, author — nothing suggests the ground-up business experience that so many Americans revere.

The President’s primary opponent in the 2012 election, Mitt Romney, was given a golden opportunity to highlight his professional experience, including helping to found Bain Capital, with Obama’s remark. And he has. The challenger has become an outstandingly wealthy individual for his hard work and lucky breaks throughout the years after working as a management consultant, heading such companies as Bain Capital and later Bain and Co. before beginning his Senatorial and Gubernatorial careers.

But, despite his business experience, Romney’s story isn’t that of the typical American entrepreneur who struggles to make ends meet and must work tirelessly to be the wind and the sails of a start-up venture. Romney’s early life was not lacking in wealth, political advantage and nepotistic benefit due to the vast political and business affiliations of his father, George Romney, himself a decent example of American self-made success.

For American business builders who have scraped by on meager — or no — wages for the sole purpose of making an entrepreneurial dream come true, there is absolutely nothing of the current President’s success story that they can relate to their own struggles, and Romney’s curricula vitae likely offers little.

Fortunately, America is a Nation that has historically emboldened the idea that one does not have to be a “fortunate son” (to reference Credence Clearwater Revival) in order to achieve paramount success. It has been proven time and again that hard work, dedication and sacrifice are just as valuable as pedigree in building one’s own successful business. And this is the track that the vast majority of American small-business entrepreneurs follow to achievement or failure.

In the 2012 Presidential election, there is perhaps one candidate who understands the American everyman struggle to successful entrepreneurship better than Romney or Obama could ever hope to. He lacks an Ivy League education and has a history that could be indistinguishable from a majority of small-business owners tending shop in small towns and cities throughout the Nation.

Former Republican Governor of New Mexico and Libertarian Presidential nominee Gary Johnson was born into an upper-middle-class North Dakota family, his father a teacher and his mother an employee of the Bureau of Indian Affairs. His family later moved to New Mexico, where he was raised. He graduated from the University of New Mexico with a bachelor’s degree in political science in 1975.

During his time in college, cash-strapped Johnson sought an opportunity to make some money in the summer of 1974. According to the New Mexico Business Journal, Johnson decided he would work as a handyman and began handing out flyers that read: “College student needs work. Will do carpentry, painting, cement, anything and everything.” The candidate said that he worked his first several jobs at a rate of just $3.50 per hour, which was actually higher than Federal minimum wage at the time.

In an interview with New Mexico Business Times, Johnson relays the moment he decided that his summer venture would parlay into lifelong self-employment:

Along came about the fifth job and this fellow wanted rocks spread out all over his whole yard. And I remember thinking it was going to take about 22 hours to do the job, so I said 80 bucks; he said fine. I showed up on Saturday thinking I was going to work all day Saturday and all day Sunday. I started at seven o’clock, and at 10:30 I was finished with the job. Then it was “Oh, my god, what am I going to do? This is 22 bucks an hour. He’s not going to pay me. What am I going to do?” And, hey, there’s only so much you can do with rocks. I’m done with the job, and he walks out, and my heart’s racing. And he says I see you’re done with the job and he handed me the check for 80 bucks. And I remember looking at the check and thinking, “This is the American way.” And at that point I knew I would never be employed by anyone, meaning I would always be self-employed.

Johnson turned his handyman operation into a modest business called Big J Enterprises after he graduated college. The modest start-up company went on expand rapidly into a multimillion-dollar business when, based on solid work ethic, the business was able to achieve multimillion-dollar expansion contracts from corporations like Intel.

Beyond good business ethics, Big J attributes much of its success to worker welfare and careful adherence to a strict operating model. In 1994, after being elected Governor of New Mexico, Johnson sold the company for $38 million, but not before ensuring that the employees holding the 1,000 jobs he had created were contractually protected from being replaced for no reason by the new owners.

Johnson went on to be a popular and notoriously thrifty Governor.

Perhaps Johnson has no chance in the Presidential election, but he is currently lobbying for the right to at least have a voice in the nationally televised Presidential debates. And, as much as Republicans and Democrats alike lament that third-party runs are damaging and distracting to the mainstream campaign, Johnson seems to have a history of doing exactly what a majority of Americans are screaming for on a daily basis: focusing on the economy of small business, rather than corporate cronyism and government control.

The Democratic- and Republican-controlled Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) mandates that candidates receive at least 15 percent favorability in order to participate in the debates. Unfortunately, the corporate-controlled media have circumvented any chance of an Obama, Romney, Johnson debate by simply leaving the Libertarian candidate off the polls.

The Libertarian Action Super Pac recently conducted two national polls of its own, asking 1,000 Americans: “Suppose in this year’s Presidential Election you had a choice of Libertarian Gary Johnson or Democrat Barack Obama. If the election were held today would you vote for Libertarian Gary Johnson or Democrat Barack Obama?”

Johnson received 19 percent favorability in the first poll and 24 percent in the most recent. It is unlikely, however, that CPD officials will accept the Libertarian group’s polling efforts.

Fat, Lazy A Disease?

On the whole, humans have become a species of lazy, inactive and increasingly overweight creatures as technology has made life easier and entertainment activities more sedentary.

A new paper published in the research journal The Lancet politely referred to the increasingly fat, lazy nature of the human population as an “inactivity epidemic.” And guess what? The “inactivity epidemic” (being fat and lazy) is responsible for one out of every 10 deaths worldwide.

Unfortunately, most people are so unaware that their sedentary lifestyles are killing them that some medical experts are now calling for doctors to consider “failure to get any form of real exercise” a mainstream medical condition. One for which they may even need to write prescriptions for… exercise.

Mayo clinic physiologist Michael Joyner explained to NPR, “The entire medical research industrial complex is oriented towards inactivity.”

Joyner’s statement falls in line with what critics of mainstream medicine and Big Pharma have been saying for years: Cutting, burning, poisoning and drugging to “treat” disease, while more profitable for the medical establishment, is nowhere near as beneficial to human health as prevention through exercise and avoidance of the everyday poisons that saturate modern lifestyles.

“Physicians really need to start defining the physically active state as normal,” Joyner said.

Some research suggests that you can avoid falling victim to the “inactivity epidemic” by exercising vigorously for as little as 20 or 30 minutes at least five times a week to lessen cardiac risk factors by up to 50 percent. For optimal health, though, many alternative medical experts suggest integrating various forms of exercise such as stretching, meditation, resistance training and cardio throughout your activities each day in small increments.