Gary Johnson, Ron Paul: What if?

With the Presidential election in November approaching, both President Barack Obama and Republican candidate Mitt Romney are making their rounds, solidifying their talking points and trying to create an image that entices voters.

But some voters still aren’t buying it.

Four years ago, Obama won due in part to a large contingent of youthful voters, many of whom were idealistic and tired of Republican leadership. In the time that Obama has held his seat in the Oval Office, many of those voters have finished college. And a large number of them have struggled to find employment, have moved back in with their parents and have had their idealistic worldviews bludgeoned by the stark realities of coming of age during hard financial times.

The promise of “hope” and “change” isn’t likely to encourage many of the disenfranchised youths to cast an Obama ballot, and the President’s new mantra, “forward,” has likely left many wondering: “Unto what?”

What the President lacks in kept promises to these voters, Romney matches in his inability to excite them (or just about anyone, if headlines are an indicator). The two candidates have left many in the group feeling like the 2012 election will be a pointless one.

Consider the polling numbers. Most polls indicate that Americans between the ages of 18 and 24 are still more likely to vote for Obama than for Romney, but by a margin of only about 12 percentage points. For those aged 25 to 29, old enough to have been heavily politically involved during the last election cycle, the gap is about half that.

The numbers indicate that in the latter bloc, about 30 percent of the likely voters remain undecided. The younger voters, according to some experts, will likely be the most malleable.

“The concern for Obama, and the opportunity for Romney, is in the 18- to 24-year-olds who don’t have the historical or direct connection to the campaign or the movement of four years ago,” John Della Volpe, director of polling at the Harvard Institute of Politics told The New York Times. “We’re also seeing that these younger members of this generation are beginning to show some more conservative traits. It doesn’t mean they are Republican. It means Republicans have an opportunity.”

Republicans aren’t the only ones who see an opportunity in the shifting political mindset of American youths.

Ron Paul has been heavily supported by young people throughout his long-shot bid for Republican nomination, and his efforts and supporters are likely going to yield him a moment in the spotlight and a heavy presence of support at the upcoming Republican National Convention. The question remains: How will he use it, and what will he direct his notoriously dedicated supporters to do?

Increasingly, Libertarians are calling on Paul to throw his might behind their man, Gary Johnson. With Paul tethered to the GOP, they argue, he could still win a further victory for his liberty movement by working to ensure that the third-party candidate is allotted a place on the debate stage alongside Romney and Obama.

Johnson has made it clear that one of his primary goals during the campaign is to get into the debate. But, due to rules imposed by the major parties, he must first achieve a 15 percent favorability rating in three national polls. This, many of his supporters argue, is completely achievable if Paul is willing to steer his supporters to Johnson’s side. Currently, Johnson polls around 5 to 8 percent in some national polls and Paul has achieved 10 to 15 percent favorability at times. Combined, Johnson supporters argue, Americans would be given a fresh alternative to the ideas posited by Romney and Obama during the nationally televised debates.

Mainstream Republicans and Democrats give the same reason for excluding Johnson from the debates that has always been given about leaving out third-party candidates: He will cost either Romney or Obama votes and skew the election in the favor of the wrong “real” candidate. But Johnson thinks this is bunk and is confident that if Americans are allowed to hear his ideas alongside those of Obama and Romney, Libertarian votes would pour in come November.

“Anything can happen [in the debates]. That could be crash and burn. [Or] it could bring attention to what it is I am saying, my resume,” he said in a recent interview. “I think a lot more people in this country describe themselves as libertarian as opposed to voting libertarian. I think my voice is representative of the fastest growing segment of American politics today, which is libertarian.”

To many voters, Johnson could offer the best of both worlds; but barring inclusion in the debate, he is unlikely to be taken seriously at all.

Romney Loves Individual Mandates

It may be time for Republicans who hate the President’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to stop being dishonest with themselves and admit: Mitt Romney probably isn’t going to do much in the way of changing Obamacare.

The evidence for believing Romney actually likes President Barack Obama’s healthcare initiative has been there all along, considering how the former Governor actually penned a similar — some say the basis for Obamacare — law in his home State of Massachusetts.

In his traditional flip-floppy fashion, Romney offered another clue illustrating why Americans shouldn’t expect swift Presidential action regarding the repeal of Obamacare if he is elected. Despite the candidate’s tough talk about doing away with the law’s individual mandate and getting “rid of Obamacare and return[ing], under our Constitution, the 10th Amendment, the responsibility and care of healthcare to the people in the States,” he’s fine, actually impressed by, the same sort of mandate in Israel.

During his recent trip to Israel, Romney said:

Do you realize what health care spending is as a percentage of the G.D.P. in Israel? Eight percent. You spend 8 percent of G.D.P. on health care. You’re a pretty healthy nation. We spend 18 percent of our G.D.P. on health care, 10 percentage points more. That gap, that 10 percent cost, compare that with the size of our military — our military which is 4 percent, 4 percent. Our gap with Israel is 10 points of G.D.P. We have to find ways — not just to provide health care to more people, but to find ways to fund and manage our health care costs.

Experts point to Israel’s 1995 decision to implement universal healthcare in the nation and require citizens to purchase insurance from one of four health maintenance organizations.

An article last month in The Jewish Daily Forward compared the healthcare of Israel and the United States and explained Israel’s individual mandate:

It meant that everybody had the right — and obligation — to be covered by one of the country’s four not-for-profit HMOs. Residents of the country pay from income-related contributions collected through the tax system, which cover around 40% of HMOs’ costs. The state pays the remaining 60%.

People are allowed to choose which HMO to join and are allowed to change once a year, but the differences are mostly superficial: By law they are obliged to provide a standardized “basket” of services and medicines, from emergency to preventative. Except for some consultations and tests for which the patient makes a contribution to the cost — usually less than $10 — HMOs transfer funds to clinics, health centers and hospitals to cover all services. There are only a handful of completely private hospitals.

Romney’s history with individual mandates in Massachusetts and his recent remarks undoubtedly should have many anti-Obamacare voters wondering if the Republican candidate really is the man for the job of repealing the health law. Perhaps he’ll simply change the name to Romney’s Israelicare.

Law Enforcement Focus On Future Crime

Heavily armed and paranoid seems to be the new modus operandi of many law enforcement agencies throughout the United States.

New reports indicate that law enforcement agencies are increasingly adopting the use of software that uses algorithms to predict where and when crimes are likely to take place by monitoring human behavior. The software examines a database of thousands of crimes and uses algorithms and different variables like geographical location, criminal records and ages of previous offenders to predict where, when and how a crime could possibly be committed. Law agencies are then able to increase patrols and physical or electronic surveillance in those areas.

Another pre-crime tactic being adopted by law enforcement is the use of cameras that sense suspicious behavior, according to a recent Daily Mail report. The cameras, manufactured by the Texas-based company BLS Labs, have been installed at tourist attractions, government buildings and military bases in the United States. Most recently, the company has been hired to install 288 of the cameras throughout the San Francisco mass transit system.

The cameras, which are reportedly able to track about 150 individuals at a time, are able to build a memory of “suspicious” behaviors. When the cameras observe behavior they deem out of the ordinary, they are able to immediately alert onsite guards via text message.

Responsible Gun Owners, Obama Nothing Alike

Last week, President Barack Obama was criticized for suggesting that American gun owners would agree with him that firearms such as AK-47s belong in the hands of soldiers, not criminals, during a speech before the National Urban League.

While he did not say it directly, the President’s remarks are indicative of a veiled push by Federal officials to reinstate the assault weapons ban that expired under President George W. Bush. This is not a new goal of the Administration.

From a 2008 Obama campaign document:

As a long-time resident and elected official of Chicago, Barack Obama has seen the impact of fully automatic weapons in the hands of criminals. Thus, Senator Obama supports making permanent the expired federal Assault Weapon Ban. These weapons, such as AK-47s, belong on foreign battlefields and not on our streets. These are also not weapons that are used by hunters and sportsmen.

In his speech last Wednesday, Obama, using the Aurora, Colo. massacre as an opportunity, reiterated his view on assault rifles. “I — like most Americans — believe that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual the right to bear arms,” Obama said. “I think we recognize the traditions of gun ownership passed on from generation to generation, that hunting and shooting are part of a cherished national heritage.

“But I also believe that a lot of gun owners would agree that AK-47s belong in the hands of soldiers and not in the hands of crooks. They belong on the battlefield of war, not on the streets of our cities,” he added.

“When there’s an extraordinarily heartbreaking tragedy like the one we saw, there’s always an outcry immediately after for action,” Obama said. “There’s talk of new reforms. There’s talk of legislation. And too often those efforts are defeated by politics and by lobbying and eventually by the pull of our collective attention elsewhere. But what I said in the wake of Tucson is we’re going to stay on this persistently.”

Conservative columnists pounced on Obama’s use of AK-47s — synonymous with rebellions, communists and terror, as well as the chosen weapon of many American enemies — as an example. The American military has little or no tactical use relationship with the mentioned weapon.

It was also pointed out by many gun enthusiasts that of course violent criminals and the mentally unstable should be weeded out in a vetting process leading up to firearms purchases, and they often are. Even with systems designed to keep firearms out of the hands of people with criminal intentions, some people argue that without the ability to read minds anomalies like James Holmes (no serious criminal record, no reason “for him to be on anyone’s radar”) would still exist. Stricter gun laws would still fail at times. The fail-safe prevention, they say, would be the impossible: complete elimination of every single firearm in the world.

For anyone seeking irony in Obama’s remarks, it was likely easily found. Especially so if they consider the recent controversy surrounding the President’s own Department of Justice and its Fast and Furious initiative. Evidently, officials in that Department disregarded the White House memo about AK-47s belonging on the battlefield when they urged gun sellers to disregard the check system put in place to keep guns out of the hands of criminals;they allowed 2,000 Ak-47s and .50 caliber rifles, among others, to “walk” into the hands of Mexican drug cartels. Many gun sellers initially reported to the government suspicious activities like “ordering large numbers of AK-47 variant rifles and other so-called ‘weapons of choice’ used by the Mexican drug cartels, and paying with large sums of cash brought in a paper bag.” But in 2009, they were told to allow the sales and that government officials had it under control and were “tracking” the weapons. On Dec. 14, 2010, Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was shot in the back by the member of a Mexican drug cartel with an AK-47 provided through the Federal government’s “gun walking.”

Here are some other results of the initiative from the Justice Department:

One AK-47 type assault rifle purchased by a Fast and Furious suspect was recovered Nov. 14, 2009 in Atoyac de Alvarez, Mexico after the Mexican military rescued a kidnap victim.

On July 1, 2010, two AK-47 type assault rifles purchased by Fast and Furious suspects were recovered in Sonora, Mexico after a shootout between cartels. Two murders were reported in the incident using the weapons.

On July 26, 2010, a giant .50 caliber Barrett rifle purchased by a Fast and Furious suspect was recovered in Durango, Mexico after apparently having been fired. No further details of the incident were given.

On Aug. 13, 2010, two AK-47 type assault rifles purchased by a Fast and Furious target were recovered in Durango, Mexico after a confrontation between the Mexican military and an “armed group.”

On Nov. 14, 2010, two AK-47 type assault rifles purchased by Fast and Furious targets were recovered in Chihuahua, Mexico after  “the kidnapping of two individuals and the murder of a family member of a Mexican public official.” Sources tell CBS News they believe this is a reference to a case we previously reported on: the terrorist kidnapping, torture and murder of Mario Gonzalez Rodriguez. Rodriguez was the brother of then-attorney general Patricia Gonzalez Rodriguez. The terrorists released video of Rodriguez before his death, in handcuffs surrounded by hooded gunmen.

On May 27, 2011, three AK-47 type assault rifles purchased by Fast and Furious targets were recovered in Jalisco, Mexico after having been fired. No other details of the incident were provided, but the date and location match with another incident previously reported by CBS News. On May 27 near Jalisto, cartel members fired upon a Mexican government helicopter, forcing it to make an emergency landing. According to one law enforcement source, 29 suspected cartel members were killed in the attack.

The President doesn’t know that the American military has never used the AK-47 as a primary battle weapon, and he is at the helm of an Administration that allowed thousands of them to be handed directly to violent criminals. It isn’t likely that “a lot of [responsible] gun owners” would agree with Obama or his Administration on much of anything regarding firearms. A responsible gun owner would not talk to large groups of people in authoritative tones about the merits, or lack thereof, of weapons about which he knows nothing. And a responsible gun owner would never hand his rifle to a criminal just to see what might happen.

Mind Control With Light

Research reported recently in Current Biology says that scientists have successfully developed a method of mind control by using pulses of light to alter behavior in monkeys. The researchers say the method could also be used on humans.

The researchers say the findings represent a key advance for optogenetics, a state-of-the-art method for making connections between brain activity and behavior. Based on the discovery, similar light-based mind control could likely also be made to work in humans for therapeutic and other purposes.

“We are the first to show that optogenetics can alter the behavior of monkeys,” says Wim Vanduffel of Massachusetts General Hospital and KU Leuven Medical School. “This opens the door to use of optogenetics at a large scale in primate research and to start developing optogenetic-based therapies for humans.”

During the process, the researchers make brain neurons respond to light through the insertion of light-sensitive genes derived from particular microbial organisms. Earlier studies had primarily validated this method for use in invertebrates and rodents. But the latest study opens the doors for the process to be used on humans.

The researchers say that the process could have important clinical applications in treating Parkinson’s disease, addiction, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder and other neurological conditions. It will also broaden the understanding of human mind control.

Rising Food Prices, Social Unrest In Coming Months

The drought that has swept across much of the United States will likely drive up food prices throughout the Nation and, some people fear, may even spark global unrest as food becomes scarce in some parts of the world.

The Federal government said this week that U.S. consumers should expect rising prices on agricultural goods like milk, beef, chicken and pork in the next year. The government also said that a price jump should be expected in processed foods, many of which contain corn as a staple ingredient, because of the drought’s devastating toll on corn crops. About 88 percent of corn crops are growing poorly or have been destroyed.

The government indicates that consumers should expect a 4 to 5 percent price increase on beef next year, and a slightly lower increase on pork, eggs and dairy.

The New England Complex Systems Institute predicts that while the rising prices will likely have a nominal impact on American consumers, those in developing countries who import U.S. agricultural goods will likely be heavily affected.

“The drought is clearly going to kick prices up. It already has. What happens when you have speculators is that it goes through the roof,” said NECSI president Yaneer Bar-Yam. “We’ve created an unstable system. Globally, we are very vulnerable.”

In conjunction with the rising prices, the researcher says that mass social unrest and violence in parts of the world are possible.

Paul’s Fed Audit Bill Passes House

Ron Paul’s revolutionary bill to audit the Federal Reserve passed the House of Representatives overwhelmingly by a vote of 327-98 on Wednesday afternoon.

Paul’s bill received backing from all House Republicans but one (Representative Bob Turner of New York), as well as support from 89 Congressional Democrats.

Representative Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) said of the bill: “The Fed creates trillions of dollars out of nothing and gives it to banks. Congress is in the dark. The Fed sets the stage for the subprime meltdown. Congress is in the dark. The Fed takes a dive on LIBOR. Congress is in the dark. The Fed doesn’t tell regulators what is going on. Congress is in the dark.”

He also noted that the vote occurred the same day The Washington Post published a damning story about how the New York Fed “did not communicate in key meetings with top regulators that British bank Barclays had admitted to Fed staffers that it was rigging LIBOR,” the index that sets interest rates worldwide.

Despite the victory, a Senior Senate Democratic aide said the bill isn’t likely to go anywhere in that chamber in the near future, according to the Huffington Post.


Conspiracy Theories Aren’t Always False, Just Unpopular

In the wake of the tragic events that occurred in Aurora, Colo., last week, the familiar media trend of mindless chatter, finger-pointing and political polarization has emerged. Americans following the case continue to get a slow trickle of facts about the alleged shooter, James Holmes, and his past, along with continual analysis about what his mindset may have been from criminology and psychology experts.

There are people focusing on the smaller, more sociably acceptable reasoning as to why Holmes is alleged to have carried out the horrific slaughter.

The narrative plays something like: Holmes was a loner whose mother said had a socially reclusive history. Potentially a lonely sex fiend, the man frequented prostitutes in his locale. A lifetime “nerd,” he had faced considerable stress of late as his grades failed in his Ph.D. studies and he removed himself from the program. Holmes spent much of his time locked in his apartment — which he faced losing because he was no longer a student — with  lights low playing video games and frequenting online message boards and sex sites. His neighbors didn’t know very much about him.

His online footprint is miniscule, his criminal record nonexistent; there was “no reason for him to be on anyone’s radar.” As it continues, the narrative will likely paint a portrait of a mentally disturbed man who became infatuated by the infamy of his favorite evil movie characters, driven to leave his own nasty mark on society by isolation, mental illness and sadism nurtured by what he deems societal failure to accept him and others like him.

Indeed, the media are already reporting on how the man behaves in his jail cell as he is “trying very hard to act crazy.” He refuses to cooperate with investigators, according to some accounts.

The political consequences of Holmes’ alleged actions are yet to be known, but the rhetoric from lawmakers and opinion shapers has already heated up. It began with media attempting to unsuccessfully link Holmes to political movements like the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street, and continued successfully into a conversation about gun rights and Internet privacy.

At a news conference on Monday, Attorney General Eric Holder, whose Justice Department is complicit in arming Mexican drug cartels, said that the government must now think about the way in which the shooter acquired his AR-15, two Glock handguns, Remington shotgun, body armor and thousands of rounds.

“We have tried to come up with a better system with our instant background checks so that we have the ability to make sure that people who have emotional problems, people who have felony records, other people cannot get access to these kinds of weapons,” Holder said.

New York Nanny Mayor Michael Bloomberg suggested that police officers throughout the country should go on strike until the 2nd Amendment is suspended.

Representative Carolyn McCarthy (D-N.Y.) — whose husband was killed in a shooting in 1993 — offered with regard to high-capacity magazines, “It befuddles me to think those things should be sold to the general public.”

The fact that Holmes used the Internet to purchase some of the supplies he allegedly used to carry out his crime has also led some lawmakers to suggest that more online spying by government agencies would catch people like him before they act.

There are factions that stand to reap political rewards if Americans accept the mainstream story and subsequent national conversation surrounding the events in Aurora. And for this reason, a small minority of Americans have risked being deemed conspiracy theorists by their peers because they are considering alternatives to the “official” story of events.

Gun control is an issue of perpetual debate in the United States. The most recent threat to the 2nd Amendment has come in the form of a U.N. small arms treaty drafted to fight “terror” and rebellion by taking guns out of the hands of “non-state actors” — read, private citizens — of signing countries. The treaty has been met with support by some U.S. officials, including the President, but has also received harsh criticism from U.S. gun owners and the National Rifle Association. While, if enacted, the treaty would not instantly ban firearms in the United States, it would create difficulties for gun owners such as making it more difficult for hunters and sportsmen to travel internationally, possibly creating a gun registration in the United States and even banning certain guns. The treaty and NRA’s fierce opposition were making headlines in the days leading up to the Aurora events.

And remember how Holmes wasn’t on “anyone’s radar?” For months, the debate about online privacy from government spying has raged as Congress offers up one after another acronym-laden bill to give the Federal government unchecked access to online information. Each one has been met with fierce public opposition. But now, Americans are offered this from a Wall Street Journal columnist:

The Colorado shooter Mr. Holmes dropped out of school via email. He tried to join a shooting range with phone calls and emails going back and forth. He bought weapons and bomb-making equipment. He placed orders at various websites for a large quantity of ammunition. Aside from privacy considerations, is there anything in principle to stop government computers, assuming they have access to the data, from algorithmically detecting the patterns of a mass shooting in the planning stages?

The columnist goes on to suggest that now is the perfect time for Americans to willingly relinquish any expectation of protection under the 4th Amendment, to protect the country from others like Holmes.

Mainstream media attacked Natural News and other alternative news sites for simply raising questions about the timing of Holmes’ alleged actions and the erratic nature of his behavior.

In the Natural News piece, the author posits that Holmes’ attack was a false flag, pointing out:

  • Holmes could have been hand selected by silent actors to carry out his actions because of his educational involvement in mind-altering neuroscience.
  • He was equipped with tactical knowledge and bomb-making expertise and supplies that are difficult to obtain and use correctly. He is alleged to have funded his arsenal in part with the help of a Federal education grant of $26,000, the details of which are sketchy.
  • He has no background and information about his past is sparse at best.

Of course, mainstream thinkers lambast anyone who would dare to suggest that such a tragedy would be foisted upon the American public by shady operatives of some clandestine force for political manipulation. This is the United States; our government is a benevolent one with only the best interests of all involved in mind, right?

History tells a different story.

The CIA has a long and well-documented relationship with experimentation in mind control for the purpose of developing the use of unsuspecting people as weapons. From the agency’s creation in 1947 until Congressional scrutiny befell the agency in 1976 with the help of Senator Frank Church, its experiments went unnoticed.

The Church hearings brought to light the agency’s involvement in years of psychological manipulation of test subjects using drugs, hypnosis and barbaric medical procedures. It was discovered that the CIA had developed the ability to control the minds of those it had manipulated using signals, often making them carry out sexual or deviant acts that would otherwise be out of character.

You can read more about some of the CIA mind-control initiatives in declassified documents that have been compiled by a global team of researchers and intelligence experts here.

It is also no secret that Federal agencies stage incidents on a regular basis. In recent years, to perpetuate the threat of terror, the FBI has coerced individuals into going along with outlandish terror plots and provided weapons and supplies to them. It has been estimated that 14 of the 22 major terror attack threats on American soil since 9/11 were actually FBI sting operations.

With such past evidence, it is a danger to cast aside any alternate explanation of Holmes’ actions as too outlandish, fearmongering or conspiracy. And such an easily politicized tragedy should — and would in a responsible society — be vetted for means, motive and opportunity from a variety of perspectives.

Military Spending A Poor Investment

The issue of whether the Federal government should cut defense spending has been coming up this week in the 2012 Presidential campaign, and one thing is clear: If you believe that American military spending should be thoroughly examined and trimmed, neither Barack Obama nor Mitt Romney is your guy.

Obama, during a speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars on Monday, accused Republicans of putting Pentagon funding in danger by calling for tax cuts. The cuts, claims the President, will further deepen the Federal government’s massive deficit and allow for automatic spending cuts, which don’t spare the military, to kick in.

“People in Congress ought to be able to come together and agree on a plan, a balanced approach that reduces the deficit and keeps our military strong,” he said to VFW members in Reno, Nev. “And there are a number of Republicans in Congress who don’t want you to know that most of them voted for these cuts. Now they’re trying to wriggle out of what they agreed to.

“Instead of making tough choices to reduce the deficit, they’d rather protect tax cuts for some of the wealthiest Americans, even if it risks big cuts in our military. And I’ve got to tell you, VFW, I disagree.”

Romney, in turn, criticized the President for even positing that across-the-board defense cuts were an option.

“Don’t bother trying to find a serious military rationale behind any of this, unless that rationale is wishful thinking. Strategy is not driving President Obama’s massive defense cuts. In fact, his own Secretary of Defense warned that these reductions would be ‘devastating.’ And he is right,” Romney said.

The candidate continued,”… I am not ashamed of American power. I take pride that throughout history our power has brought justice where there was tyranny, peace where there was conflict, and hope where there was affliction and despair. I do not view America as just one more point on the strategic map, one more power to be balanced. I believe our country is the greatest force for good the world has ever known, and that our influence is needed as much now as ever. And I am guided by one overwhelming conviction and passion: This century must be an American Century.”

Obama, in a rare visit to the Pentagon earlier this year, held a press conference to discuss what he called a plan to reduce the size of the military while making sure that it remained a strong defensive and strategic force. Included with the plan was the agreement between the White House and Congress to cut a projected $480 billion from the Pentagon budget over the next decade. The cuts, however, are largely symbolic, as the military budget will simultaneously increase to account for the rate of inflation during the same time. By the end of the year, if Congress fails to reach a budget agreement, an additional $700 billion in defense cutbacks is set to be triggered. Lawmakers are unlikely to allow this to happen, according to most analysts.

As Romney and Obama make the same defense-cuts-make-us-less-safe arguments and offer different solutions (Obama’s tax increases and Romney’s politically impossible promise to increase defense spending without higher taxes), special interests are also having their say.

Last week, former Vice President Dick “Halliburton” Cheney told House Republicans that it would be fine to slash military spending in a safe world, but we don’t live in a safe world.

“There is no significant change in our strategic stance to justify these cuts,” Cheney told members of the House Republican whip team in the basement of the Capitol, according to a POLITICO source in attendance. “Actually, things are not better, they’re worse.”

With a spending allotment that has roughly doubled over the past decade as the United States finds itself perpetually battling “terror,” it seems Cheney’s claim that things are worse should defeat his own argument against cuts. If American defense policy isn’t really working (or, in Romney’s words, bringing “justice where there was tyranny, peace where there was conflict, and hope where there was affliction and despair”), why keep throwing money at it?

Here’s what American taxpayers have gotten for their benevolent investments:

Nearly a decade occupying Iraq at a cost of about $1 trillion in overall military spending has yielded a country rife with violence and extremism — a country less stable and arguably far more violent than it was under Saddam Hussein’s regime.

The ongoing struggle in Afghanistan with 2,000 Americans killed; 16,000 Americans wounded; 12,000 Afghan civilian deaths and U.S. expenditures of $400 billion has yielded a politically corrupt and violence-stricken country with a bleak future. The country will likely depend on the United States as a crutch for decades, despite the fact that American-trained members of its military and police continue to shoot American service members and civilians.

The United States intervened in Libya earlier in the year, handing the country over to Islamic extremists; a similar scenario will likely play out in Syria in coming months.

Each of the places that have seen U.S. military intervention in the past decade, some experts argue, have become hotbeds for the same sort of violent Islamic extremism that sparked the Mideast invasions following Sept. 11, 2001.

Cheney is right; things are getting worse abroad. Of course, defense contractors and companies that receive government contracts for nation building won’t see anything get worse unless across-the-board budget cuts kick in. Last week, as Cheney was making his rounds speaking with Republican lawmakers, another man with interest in defense spending was also seen at the Capitol: the president of Lockheed Martin.

Federal Agencies Poor Students Of Communication

A year ago, provisions of the Plain Writing Act of 2010, which require Federal agencies to take steps to use clearer language in paperwork and laws so that average citizens can more easily understand the information, went into effect.

The Center for Plain Language has graded 12 Federal agencies based on how well they complied with the basic requirements and for efforts of implementing policies that would better help them comply.

“Unless federal agencies are held accountable, they won’t implement the changes required by the Plain Writing Act,” Representative Bruce Braley (D-Iowa), who authored the Act, said. “The mixed results of the first-ever Plain Language Report Card show that we still have a long way to go to make government forms and documents simpler and easier for taxpayers to understand. Some federal agencies have embraced the Plain Writing Act, and others haven’t. Until these grades are all A-plus, we’re going to keep holding bureaucrats’ feet to the fire.”

Here’s how the agencies scored when it came to being clear and concise in their communications:

National Archives and Records AdministrationBC
U.S. Department of AgricultureAB
U.S. Department of DefenseBD
U.S. Department of Health and Human ServicesCB
U.S. Department of Homeland SecurityDD
U.S. Department of JusticeCD
U.S. Department of LaborBF
U.S. Department of TransportationCF
U.S. Department of Veterans AffairsFF
U.S. Environmental Protection AgencyCF
U.S. Social Security AdministrationCC
U.S. Small Business AssociationCC

Penn State Football Eviscerated For Sex Abuse

In the wake of the disturbing revelations over the past several months in the Penn State child sex abuse scandal involving former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, the NCAA has levied “unprecedented” sanctions against the university’s football program.

The athletic organization said that by promoting a “football first” culture at the school, the university enabled Sandusky’s pedophilic activities and failed to uphold and value institutional integrity.

“As we evaluated the situation, the victims affected by Jerry Sandusky and the efforts by many to conceal his crimes informed our actions,” said Association President Mark Emmert. “At our core, we are educators. Penn State leadership lost sight of that.”

Penn State’s failures have resulted in the NCAA’s imposition of a $60 million fine against the university, equivalent to the annual gross revenue of its football program, to be paid into an endowment for programs aimed at preventing child sex abuse.

The athletic organization also imposed a four-year football postseason ban and vacated all of the university’s wins from 1998 through 2011.

“Football will never again be placed ahead of educating, nurturing and protecting young people,” Emmert said.

The sanctions cost famed Penn State former coach Joe Paterno 111 wins, removing his title as the winningest coach in Division 1 football history.

Current or incoming football players may immediately transfer and compete at other schools.

Syria Admits WMD Cache

The embattled Syrian government said on Monday that it has stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction and will not hesitate to use them in the event the country is invaded by foreigners.

Foreign ministry spokesman Jihad Makdissi said that Damascus would not use unconventional arms against its own citizens, but would against foreign invaders.

Currently, Syria faces international isolation, a rebellion that has left more than 19,000 people dead, and threats from Israel of invading to prevent the weapons from falling into rebel hands. Syrian officials, before now, had not admitted that the country possessed WMDs, though speculation that it had them is long-standing.

“No chemical or biological weapons will ever be used, and I repeat, will never be used, during the crisis in Syria no matter what the developments inside Syria,” Makdissi said during a news conference on Syrian state television. “All of these types of weapons are in storage and under security and the direct supervision of the Syrian armed forces and will never be used unless Syria is exposed to external aggression.”

He noted, however, that Syria is facing domestic enemies in the rebellion, which the regime has described as being funded from abroad by foreign extremists.

U.S. intelligence officials say they are intensifying monitoring efforts to track the weapons and try to determine whether the Syrian government will use them.

Gazing Your Way To Better Health

If you have been putting off a trip to a natural wonder or awe-inspiring landmark, you may be doing so to the detriment of your health.

Researchers at Stanford University and the University of Minnesota have conducted studies on a topic that has received little scientific observation: how being awe-inspired by “something immense in size, number, scope, complexity or social bearing” affects your health.

They found that not only can a trip to the Grand Canyon or a beautiful mountain range be a memorable experience, but it can also benefit your overall health and well-being.

The study states:

[The experiments] showed that awe, relative to happiness, engenders a perception that time is plentiful, curbs impatience, and inspires a desire to volunteer time. These outcomes have been related to well-being, suggesting life satisfaction itself might be affected by awe.

Eliciting a feeling of awe, versus a neutral state, increased perceived time availability, which in turn led participants to more strongly prefer experiential over material goods and view their lives as more satisfying. [The experiments] also found evidence of mediation: Greater perceived time availability mediated awe’s effect on momentary life satisfaction and participants’ choice of experiential (over material) products.

The researchers say that awe’s ability to make people feel that they have more time can lessen the risk of hypertension and ailments such as headaches, stomach pain and poor sleep quality. It can also benefit mental health.

If your modern life, however, has you tied to a desk and staring at numbers on the computer screen all day, you may find it challenging to find the time to take a look at an awe-inspiring vista. The good news, the researchers say, is that awe-inspiring things you have viewed in the past, when reflected upon for a few moments throughout the day, can provide the same positive health effects.

A Wake-Up Call For Concealed Carry

Gun control zealots seized on the tragic events that unfolded last week in an Aurora, Colo., movie theater where a disturbed gunman brutally opened fire on moviegoers, killing several and wounding dozens, as a reason for the banning of firearms in America.

But from people who do not wish to be left utterly defenseless in situations like what unfolded last week, there’s a different message: The world is full of mentally unhinged, immoral, desperate, criminal and sadistic beings capable of horrific things. And they don’t always use guns.

When there are no guns, they might use chainsaws.

Or they may use a sword.

Or a baseball bat.

Or they may just use their teeth.

Whether guns are made illegal, there will always be people with intent and means by which to harm and kill the unsuspecting. And even making guns illegal — like, say, how it’s been attempted with alcohol, marijuana, narcotics, prostitution, theft, murder, bribery, etc. — isn’t going to stop lawbreakers from acquiring them, just as illegality doesn’t deter murders, drug addicts, prostitutes and thieves.

So what is the answer? Vigilance.

Last Friday’s tragedy should serve as a wake-up call to all of those who have succumbed to the false sense of security that this comforting society provides. There are people out there who want to kill and who will kill if they are given even the slightest opportunity. These people seek out victims who are defenseless and vulnerable.

One armed person in the movie theater where James Holmes went on his psychotic killing spree would have had the opportunity to greatly level the playing field. But it is likely that the gunman knew the chance of any of his victims being armed was slight. After all, even the most staunch concealed carry advocate would likely deem a suburban movie theater as a place where a violent attack is unlikely to occur. And who wants to carry a sidearm to a movie, a place people go to escape the horrors of real life?

With attacks like Holmes’ increasing in frequency, Americans should learn how to properly use their firearms and take them everywhere. Here are some products to make a concealed carry weapon less cumbersome in daily life:

No bulk waist holsters from Versacarry.

Low profile concealed carry chest holsters.

Concealed carry purses.

Front pocket holsters for jackets and looser fitting pants.

Undergarments designed for concealed carry.

Casual and dress pants designed specifically for concealed carry.

There are countless other concealed carry options available that can be found by conducting a simple Internet search. With so many low-profile and convenient ways to carry a self-defense weapon, there is no reason any American who can legally concealed carry should leave the home unarmed.

Tragic Mass Killing Gets Politicized

The tragic massacre allegedly carried out by lone gunman James Holmes in an Aurora, Colo., movie theatre early Friday morning has captivated the Nation and created a feeding frenzy among gun control advocates.

Reports indicate that Holmes, a 24 year-old former Ph.D. student, entered the Century 16 movie theater through an emergency exit and opened fire on attendees of a screening of the highly anticipated Batman film “The Dark Night Rises,” killing 12 and wounding up to 38 others.

Little is known about Holmes at this time, though he is described in some media reports as a “loner” and a “highly intelligent man.”

Media and gun control proponents have jumped to politicize the tragic event.

Some reports indicate that Holmes was possibly a member of a violent faction of Occupy Wall Street, Occupy Black Bloc, and was upset by a negative portrayal of OWS in “The Dark Knight Rises.”

ABC’s Brian Ross attempted, incorrectly, to link the shooter to the Tea Party. reported that the gunman is a registered Democrat.

CNN’s Piers Morgan took to Twitter to attack gun rights in light of the tragedy.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg took to a talk radio program, saying: “[M]aybe it’s time the two people who want to be president of the United States stand up and tell us what they’re going to do about [guns], because this is obviously a problem across the country. And everybody always says, ‘Isn’t it tragic?’”

Representative Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) claims that the mass killing was the result of “ongoing attacks on Judeo-Christian beliefs.”

Lawmakers Talk Drones

In a little more than two years, United States airspace will be “dominated” by unmanned aerial drones, according to one lawmaker.

On Thursday, the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Oversight, Investigations and Management held a hearing on the increasing use of drones domestically, raising questions about how the Nation should prepare.

Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-Texas) in his opening statements said he believes that the Department of Homeland Security should be more involved in preparing for the drones to become an airborne fixture.

“The Department of Homeland Security mission is to protect the homeland. Unfortunately, DHS seems either disinterested or unprepared to step up to the plate to address the proliferation of Unmanned Aerial Systems in US air space, the potential threats they pose to our national security, and the concerns of our citizens of how drones flying over our cities will be used including protecting civil liberties of individuals under the Constitution,” he said.

McCaul isn’t the only one worried about how drones are going to impact Americans in the next few years. C. Todd Gilbert (R), a Delegate in the Virginia Legislature, has teamed up with the American Civil Liberties Union to draft and introduce a bill to strictly regulate the use of spy drones in his State.

His bill would enact legislation to ban all government and government-sponsored use of drones except where:

there are specific and stated reasons to believe that a drone will collect evidence relating to a specific instance of criminal wrongdoing and where the government has obtained a warrant based on probable cause; or

there is a geographically confined, time-limited emergency situation in which particular people’s lives are at risk, such as a fire, hostage crisis, or land or water-based search and rescue operation; or

the drone is used for reasonable non-law enforcement purposes by non-law enforcement agencies, where privacy will not be substantially affected, such as geological inspections or environmental surveys, and where the surveillance will not be used for secondary law enforcement purposes or enforcement of administrative regulations.

As drones become ever more cheaply produced and stealthy, the ACLU urges lawmakers in other States to take similar action.

You Built It, They Stole It

President Barack Obama has not made a secret of the fact that he believes government is the answer to almost any problem that could arise in a civilized society, even those problems that government has created.

The vague statements about “Hope” and “Change” that Obama made during his first Presidential run quickly made way for a bolder mantra that has evolved over the past three years to the point that each of his speeches nearly indicates dictation from a collectivist handbook.

Obama in 2009 told us that government was the only answer to the economic woes facing our Nation when he said during a speech at George Mason University: “Only government can break the vicious cycles that are crippling our economy — where a lack of spending leads to lost jobs which leads to even less spending.”

At a commencement speech at the University of Michigan in 2010, the President told students: “Government is the police officers who are here protecting us and the service men and women who are defending us abroad. Government is the roads you drove in on and the speed limits that kept you safe. Government is what ensures that mines adhere to safety standards and that oil spills are cleaned up by the companies that caused them. Government is this extraordinary public university — a place that is doing life-saving research, catalyzing economic growth, and graduating students who will change the world around them in ways big and small.”

And in June, on the campaign trail, Obama said that Americans as a whole came to an understanding after World War II that government, not the market, should drive the economy in saying: “Yes, there have been fierce arguments throughout our history between both parties about the exact size and role of government — some honest disagreements. But in the decades after World War II, there was a general consensus that the market couldn’t solve all of our problems on its own.”

The President’s most recent government-is-the answer remarks represent more than rhetoric, they represent a chance to stand back and take a look at the things government has done. This is a time for all Americans to step back and take a look at just who did build this, and who is tearing it apart.

“If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.”

Let’s examine Obama’s remarks.

“If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help.”

The President isn’t a liar in this respect. No doubt, every successful person has had someone to look up to, a mentor or a source of encouragement. Perhaps someone who, as a young entrepreneur, endured the same struggles you were going through lent a hand or gave you some sound advice. Perhaps a teacher did push you a little harder and expect you to achieve a little more. Maybe your parents helped you get your business off the ground. Or business partners who shared your vision also shared your risk.

Where Obama loses his credibility is in inferring that the benevolence of the Federal government is responsible for the creation of any productive venture, for benevolence and government are mutually exclusive. A government cannot exist unless it is propped up by the productive members of the society it was created to serve. And in a free society, those producers would opt to take a reasonable loss on profits to pay for services that contribute to an environment healthy to business.

Ayn Rand writes in The Virtue of Selfishness:

In a fully free society, taxation—or, to be exact, payment for governmental services—would be voluntary. Since the proper services of a government—the police, the armed forces, the law courts—are demonstrably needed by individual citizens and affect their interests directly, the citizens would (and should) be willing to pay for such services, as they pay for insurance.

This brings us to vet another portion of Obama’s statement.

Somebody invested in roads and bridges.”

Indeed. American producers invested in roads and bridges and continue to do so. Via the taxes they pay each and every day, commuters invest in roads and bridges. Any business that ships products or employs people who commute to work invests daily in roads and bridges. Any commuter who drives through a toll booth invests in roads and bridges. And it is safe to say, without those entrepreneurs who continue to produce, the investment would shrink substantially. Roads and bridges, you see, affect the interests of producers directly and, unlike welfare for the able but entitled class, are necessary for production to result in profit.

Unfortunately, the parasitic nature of government creates an environment in which the stewards of the investment are not held fully accountable for their actions. A 2010 report from the Public Interest Research Group tells how nearly half of the roadways throughout the Nation are in disrepair. Why? Because politicians dependent upon votes to continue receiving taxpayer-funded salaries get more publicity and more special interest kickbacks from new road ribbon cuttings than maintaining existing roadways. Government leads to American motorists’ having to travel a road pitted with potholes just so they can reach a bridge to nowhere.

In order to continue to understand the President’s faulty reasoning, let’s look at his older statements. When he discussed how regulations created by the benevolent government are keeping us all safe at the University of Michigan in 2010, he left a few things out.

Thanks to grants provided by the Federal government to the police who keep you safe, they are increasingly equipped with military-grade equipment that they are poorly trained to use. Many are becoming trigger-happy and careless; every day, news reports detail the frightening consequences.

The regulations that protect miners and other workers from unsafe conditions and the environment from unsafe practices by industry were once a shining example of how an industrialized society could remain both profitable and careful. But Obama neglects to mention how increasingly crippling regulations have eaten profits and created an environment in which running a business is nearly impossible.

The Environmental Protection Agency is doing its best to make American industry uncompetitive with unrealistic standards that only Federal rule makers could dream up.

The agents of the state running the Food and Drug Administration have entwined themselves so deeply with moneyed special interests that it is nearly impossible to discern where the agency ends and Big Agribusiness and Big Pharma begin. They serve these special interests by working to shut the doors of small alternative-health operations, natural-supplement providers and small food growers. Often, their goals are carried out by conducting raids and sending armed bureaucrats, not officers of the law, onto private property to threaten and intimidate small business owners who fail to adhere to insane demands.

The graduates of the public universities that Obama touted in that speech go to school with money received through taxpayer-funded Pell grants. If they are ineligible for the grants because they happen to have been born into a family that acquired wealth through years of hard work, they find a way to fund the education on their own. Their parents pay for it or their own hard work gains them a scholarship. Of course, if those are not options, the benevolent Federal government steps in and offers loans that never go away on terms that sound too good to be true. A slave class is now emerging as a result of the student loan option. Americans owe about $1 trillion in student loan debt, and the cost is growing daily. The figure that is dropping is the number of graduates finding jobs outside of the local burger shack.

And as the value of education drops, the price of a degree rises. The reason for this is simple economics, but you couldn’t learn it in most public university economics classes.

If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.”

If you are a small-business owner, the truth is you did build your business. Nobody else made it happen. You built your business by jumping through hoops, taking risks, sacrificing family life and fun, losing it all and starting over, and constantly believing that you can be no other than the self-made man who keeps the gears of society in motion. You did this in spite, not because of, the corrupt, parasitic, ever-growing cancer that is the Federal government.

Unfortunately, along the way, you and the producers who came before you also made it possible for the criminals and wealth redistributors who have usurped what was meant to be a government of limited service to build something of their own by the sweat of your brow. They have now managed to create and enable an enormous dependent class; to transition your law enforcement from pro-community to parliamentary force; and to put in place crippling regulations, taxes and fines. And while you weren’t looking because you were building your business, “somebody else” was attaining every last resource they need to steal your profit and tie your hands.

You built it all — your business directly and their criminal empire indirectly — as they stole from and deceived you every step of the way. Now, it seems, it is time to evaluate success and decide which one must be torn down and re-structured from the bottom up. As an entrepreneur or a producer, there is no doubt you can tell which business model has failed.

Good Books For Liberty


The Library of Congress is currently celebrating books that it deems have been instrumental in shaping the American mystique with a list of 88 titles and an exhibit in Washington, D.C.

The Library contends that the list is not one of “best” American works of literature but rather of works that have influenced the lives of most all Americans in one respect or another. Among the titles included on the list are such classic works as Herman Melville’s “Moby Dick”, Allen Ginsberg’s controversial test of free speech no matter how controversial in “Howl”, and lighter works like Dr. Seuss’s iconic “The Cat in The Hat”.

Many are titles that a majority of Americans have or should have read at one time or another during youth or education. Surprisingly, given that the list was compiled by an entity of the Federal government, there are also a few titles that all liberty-loving Americans should have in their libraries.

If you haven’t read the following titles, you should.

“Common Sense” by Thomas Paine (1776)
Paine, in his writings, laid forth in common language why the American colonies needed to become free of British rule while the idea of independence was still under debate. “Common Sense” describes how “natural liberty” must remain an important part of any governmental body and rejects the idea that any people should live under a permanent ruling class. Paine’s work was considered one of the most “incendiary” of the Revolutionary period and is credited for bringing the common man into the political debate.
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“The Federalist” by John Jay, Alexander Hamilton and James Madison (1787)
In order to understand why many people believe that the Federal government has ballooned wildly out of control and taken on powers which it was never intended to have, “The Federalist” is a go-to guide. Alexander Hamilton has been referred to by some historians as “the founding father of big government,” for his faith in the power of institutions to create good policy. His writings in “The Federalist” do not reflect the accusations, as he discussed his high regard for State’s rights. Reading those writings and studying Hamilton’s later actions also illustrates how dishonesty from politicians is nothing new in America.
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“Walden” Henry David Thoreau (1854)
What Thoreau’s work about the importance of embracing nature in life rather than living in constant pursuit of material possession lacks in practical prepper information, it makes up for in philosophy. More than 150 years ago, Thoreau believed that Americans were enslaved by money and debt, overly distracted by social life, killing themselves with poor diets and wholly unable to provide basic needs for themselves. He decided to shun society for two years, living near a pond in Concord, Mass. In modern society, with all of Thoreau’s aforementioned complaints amplified, “Walden” offers interesting perspective on the importance of self-reliance.
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“The Jungle” by Upton Sinclair (1906)
In this early investigative journalism piece, Sinclair brings to light the horribly unsanitary conditions that were found in Chicago’s meatpacking districts in the early 20th Century. This is the book that established a meatpacking law and the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906 creating the agency that eventually became the Food and Drug Administration in 1930. Realizing the disgusting conditions that existed in food plants prior to the establishment of the entities, but also considering how the FDA has become a Gestapo force for big agribusiness and pharmaceutical giants today, one can understand the true meaning of the phrase “the road to hell is paved with good intentions.”
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“Fahrenheit 451″ by Ray Bradbury (1953)
Bradbury depicts an American future without 1st Amendment rights in which books are burned, critical thinking is shunned and people are allowed only information provided them through government-approved television programing. In the dystopian novel, government officials believe that a public inundated with endless television chatter and popular culture, remains productive and efficient for those in charge.
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“Atlas Shrugged” by Ayn Rand (1957)
In “Atlas Shrugged”, perhaps the most poignant title on the list given the current political landscape, Rand illustrates what might happen if society’s producers, fatigued by overbearing regulation and taxation for the collective good, suddenly resisted: inevitable societal collapse. If you disagree with President Barack Obama’s recent assertion that government, not hard work, is the secret behind entrepreneurial success, this is a novel for you. If you agree with the President, you too should read Rand’s masterpiece. If the current anti-business attitude persists in the United States, Atlas could shrug any day now.
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There are several other good-for-fun reads on the Library’s complete list (which can be found here), and no doubt many other works not on the list that American patriots should read. Of the Library’s 88 suggestions, however, these are the most important to understanding why liberty must remain a part of the American tradition.

Socialist France Losing Citizens

It turns out socialists know how to grow the economy in one segment of the market: real estate.

French real estate agency figures show that following the country’s recent election of a socialist president and political majority, wealthy Frenchmen are opting to move out of the country.

From The Telegraph:

Sotheby’s Realty, the estate agent arm of the British auction house, said its French offices sold more than 100 properties over 1.7 million euros between April and June this year – a marked increase on the same period in 2011.

Alexander Kraft, head of Sotheby’s Realty, France, said: “The result of the presidential election has had a real impact on our sales.

The exodus is most likely the result of a round of “share the wealth” proposals being considered by French socialist leaders. The government is currently in the process of trying to implement a 75 percent tax rate on French taxpayers earning more than 1 million euros yearly and a tax raise on the middle class in the country from 41 to 45 percent.

France’s Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault has promised the new government will quickly enact a number of other socialist reforms as well. These include plans to construct more than a 500,000 new public housing units each year, the right for same-sex couples to get married and adopt children, a higher minimum wage and the right to vote in municipal elections for documented immigrants who have resided in France more than five years.

News 'Content Mills' Dupe The Public

Faced with falling profits and a failing to make an easy transition into the digital age, some American news media outlets have turned away from facts and embraced dishonesty to resuscitate a dying industry.

This has been illustrated by the story of a scandal that has developed over the past few months involving such big name news peddlers as the Houston Chronicle, San Francisco Chronicle, Chicago Sun-Times and the Chicago Tribune, among others. All of these companies, in the name of profits, opted to turn to a news mill called Journatic for the production of local content.

Journatic produces this content by searching the Internet for local information on home sales, death notices, Little League scores, police blotter entries, honor rolls, school lunch menus and company press releases and then hiring low-paid and often foreign writers to piece together the information. Its U.S.-based writers receive as little as $12 to $24 for 500-word to 1,000-word stories and Philippine-based content producers get around 35 to 40 cents per piece for their work.

The work is then put through an assembly line of sorts whereby content is added by a string of producers and edits are made by editors. Many of these assembly line news stories have been published under false bylines. This, according to Poynter, was the case with more than 350 stories published on behalf of the Houston Chronicle.

Controversy surrounding Journatic’s outsourced local “journalism” and use of fake bylines was brought to light in a recent radio broadcast of “This American Life.” In the weeks following, many papers reviewed the Journatic content that they received and often found evidence of plagiarism and in some cases outright fabrication.

The Chicago Tribune completely dropped its contract with Journatic and announced this week that it would fill the content void with real local reporters and freelancers. With public pressure other news outlets may follow suit or avoid getting contracts with content mills in the first place.

Deficit, Europe May Spark Fed Action

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke testified before the Senate Banking Committee yesterday, saying that the economy is still floundering and hinting that another round of Federal Reserve action is on the horizon.

Much of Bernanke’s focus was placed on European economic markets and U.S. lawmakers’ inability to agree on a plan to reduce the budget deficit at home without drastically sharp cuts and tax hikes.

On Europe, Bernanke said: “The Federal Reserve remains in close communication with our European counterparts. Although the politics are complex, we believe that the European authorities have both strong incentives and sufficient resources to resolve the crisis.”

But he concluded that European developments that resulted in a disruption in global financial markets would inevitably pose significant challenges for the U.S. economy that the Fed is ready to combat.

At home, the Fed chairman said that “U.S. fiscal policies are on an unsustainable path” said lawmakers should put high priority on a “medium term” deficit-reduction plan.

“The most effective way that the Congress could help to support the economy right now would be to work to address the nation’s fiscal challenges in a way that takes into account both the need for long-run sustainability and the fragility of the recovery,” he said. “Doing so earlier rather than later would help reduce uncertainty and boost household and business confidence.”

Economic experts say that Bernanke’s testimony alludes to his willingness to enter another round of Fed economic manipulation; but expect it to occur months from now, as it is the Fed chairman’s only remaining option.

Paul, Bernanke: The Final Showdown?

Wednesday will mark an important moment for anyone who has come to question the shady operations and perceived benefit to American economic policy of the Federal Reserve in the past few years because of Representative Ron Paul’s (R-Texas) crusade against the central bank.

This will likely mark the last time that the soon-to-retire Congressman and chairman of the House Financial Services Committee will have an opportunity to lecture Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke during a committee meeting.

Paul said he wants to remind Bernanke of the same message he’s been pushing during his entire legislative career.

“It’ll be hard to think up anything brand new other than reiterating my concerns over the last 30 years,” he told The Hill in an interview.

When Paul took over as chairman of the Financial Services Committee he opted to take an approach that would make the Fed a central issue and a household name with many Americans rather than simply issuing subpoenas for information from the central bank. The lawmaker began to call in economists and scholars to point out the flaws in the Fed’s monetary policy, which served more to teach Congress about other options for American monetary policy.

Paul has managed to bring together both Republican and Democratic lawmakers in criticizing the central bank, and he has created an outpouring of public support for more scrutiny from members of his own liberty movement and the Occupy Wall Street crowd. His bill for a comprehensive audit of the Fed is also moving, thanks in part to its 271 co-sponsors; it will likely be passed by both Congressional chambers.

Below are some of Paul’s most educational exchanges with Bernanke (in no particular order):

Is gold money?



Why would some people not support a Fed audit?




How has the Fed impacted the value of money?



Maybe your theories are wrong.



The only question now: Who, if anyone, will continue to fight to hold the Federal Reserve accountable in Paul’s absence?

Florida Man Shot Dead By Cops For Answering Door Armed

A Florida man was shot dead by deputies of the Lake County Sherriff’s Department at 1:30 a.m. Sunday when they failed to identify themselves as police officers and banged on the door of his apartment.

The officers were pursuing alleged attempted murderer Jonathan Brown, whom they had seen attempt to smash another individual in the head with a concrete block, when they trailed him to an apartment complex. Police then located a motorcycle on which they believed Brown had fled and began to bang on the door of the apartment across from where it was parked.

The apartment belonged to 26-year-old Andrew Scott, a man reportedly unrelated to the incident the police were investigating, who answered the door wielding a handgun. The officers, who said they did not identify themselves as police when banging on the door, claim that Scott pointed the weapon at them after opening the door. An officer then opened fire, killing Scott. Orlando reports that the police say they are not at fault in the man’s killing.

“When we knocked on the door, the door opened and the occupant of that apartment was pointing a gun at deputies and that’s when we opened fire and killed him,” Lake County officer Lt. John Herrell said. “…It’s just a bizarre set of circumstances. The bottom line is, you point a gun at a deputy sheriff or police office, you’re going to get shot.”

The police later arrested Brown and another man involved with the crime they were investigating near the apartment where Scott was shot.

As police throughout the Nation continue to become increasingly militarized and deal with increasingly heinous crimes committed by criminals made reckless by hopelessness, this is only the latest in a string of stories of innocent civilians put in danger by police mistakes in the everyone-is-a-criminal environment.

They sometimes destroy the homes of innocents in SWAT raids.

Sometimes, they throw flashbang grenades through the windows of the wrong home and terrify grandmothers.

For more on the consequences of militarizing America’s police forces, read this.