CATEGORY: Climate

Daily Caller gets it wrong on global warming spending

Michael Bastasch’s shallow and oversimplified reading of federal spending for climate disruption vs. border security misleads his audience.

CATEGORY: ClimateAn article in the Daily Caller on October 28 incorrectly claimed that the federal government was spending twice as much to address industrial climate disruption as it was spending on border security. In the process, the author of the article, Michael Bastasch, misrepresented both the 2014 Department of Homeland Security budget and the federal climate change expenditures for 2013. Continue reading

CATEGORY: FreedomPrivacy2

Boston Marathon bombing investigation reveals security state’s hypocrisy toward photographers (shooters, know your rights)

It’s become a little too common a story:

  1. police thugs beating the hell out of a citizen (who may or may not have done anything)
  2. citizen with camera takes pictures or video of police abuse
  3. police arrest photographer
  4. because apparently it’s illegal to record police brutality

The new trend is to make photographing the police illegal, although they will also arrest you for “obstructing law enforcement” – something you can apparently do from a distance. The Ministry of Homeland Security even wants us to view public displays of photography as potential terrorist activity.

But in Boston last week, the authorities were singing a very different tune, begging citizens to review their stills and video from the site of the Marathon bombings for clues to the identity of the attackers. How convenient. And utterly hypocritical. Carlos Miller over at PhotographyIsNotACrime is dead on the money.

After more than a decade of profiling citizens with cameras as potential terrorists, law enforcement officials are now hoping these same citizens with cameras will help them nab the culprits behind the Boston Marathon terrorist explosions.

Adding to the hypocrisy is that these same authorities will most likely start clamping down on citizens with cameras more than ever once the smoke clears and we once again become a nation of paranoids willing to give up our freedoms in exchange for some type of perceived security.

After all, that is exactly how it played out in the years after the 9/11 terrorist attacks where it became impossible to photograph buildings, trains or airplanes without drawing the suspicion of authorities as potential terrorists.

In fact, the Department of Homeland Security along with the FBI routinely advises that photography in public must be treated as suspicious activity – even after a federal lawsuit forced DHS to acknowledge there is nothing illegal about photographing federal buildings.

CATEGORY: PhotographyI have friends who have been hassled by the police and private security for engaging in perfectly legal activity, and I even had a rent-a-cop try to chase me away from a parking deck once even though it wasn’t the subject of my shooting. Since the authorities are unacquainted with the Constitution and the law, it’s up to us to help them.

So, if you’re a shooter, read this from the ACLU. In fact, print out a copy and stick it in your camera bag. While we’re at it, here’s a nicely constructed one-pager called The Photographer’s Right from Bert Krages, a nationally recognized attorney and photographers’ advocate. If you’re confronted by police or security, be polite, but feel free to assert your basic Constitutional rights.

Thanks to Lisa Wright for pointing me at this story and to Stuart O’Steen for the Photographer’s Right link.

Bin Laden's death, the end of a 21st Century Hitler

by Jane Briggs-Bunting

Osama Bin Laden is dead.

The first news reports gave me an eerie feeling to know he died with a bullet to his head. It seemed more like a hit than a battle at that time. My Christian sensibilities rebelled at the thought of assassination and murder even of such an evil person.  My human sensibilities applauded the death of a man who orchestrated the murders of so many others, a 21st Century Adolph Hitler.

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Gaddafi's defector foreign minister Kousa has Michigan ties

by Jane Briggs-Bunting; illustration by Paul Szep

As the ground and air war continues in Libya, I received an email from a former colleague and friend from the Detroit media. He related how he covered a story in the mid-1980s about a Gaddafi’s loyalist. Musa Kousa, who had attended school at Michigan State University studying sociology and following the Spartans’ sports teams. He sent me the link for the mid-1980s story he uploaded to You Tube.

Kousa returned to his homeland and then became the equivalent of the Libyan ambassador to the UK when he headed up the Libyan Mission in London. Back then, he was allegedly in charge of assassinating the exiled political opponents of Colonel Gaddafi. In 1984, during demonstrations in front of the Libyan Embassy in London, the crowd of demonstrators was sprayed with bullets from the embassy. Among those killed was a London police officer, Yvonne Fletcher. At that point, the Brits told Kousa to get out and shut down the embassy.

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Canadian Embassy emails reveal Canadian, US lobbying on tar sands-derived oil

Recently released emails written by employees of the Canadian Embassy in Washington DC and other Canadian government workers show that the Embassy directly lobbied the Bush Administration and Congress in an attempt to influence regulations and legislation that could restrict exports of Alberta tar sands-derived bitumen and petroleum. The emails further reveal that the Bush Administration had asked the Canadian Embassy to lobby Congress and to use its influence with key oil companies to convince them to lobby on Canada’s – and the Bush Administration’s – behalf. Continue reading

The government’s checkbook too screwed up to audit, says GAO

You know the company’s in trouble when the auditor tells the company that its bookkeeper can’t manage the company’s finances, reconcile balance sheets among different departments, or prepare credible financial statements.

And you know it’s real trouble when the auditor can’t even do an audit and provide the company with a statement of its financial health — or ill health.

That’s what Gene Dodaro, acting comptroller general of the United States and head of the Government Accounting Office, has told the federal government about its fiscal 2010 books: You’re in deep fiscal do-do. Said Dodaro:

Even though significant progress has been made since the enactment of key financial management reforms in the 1990s, our report on the U.S. government’s consolidated financial statement illustrates that much work remains to be done to improve federal financial management.

Apparently, the feds don’t know what to count, how to count it, and how to report the count.
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Assange—Just the facts, Ma’am, just the facts

The great Wikileaks dump has been interesting in any number of ways. I’ve learned a lot. It’s true that a number of commentators have said that this is all stuff we knew before, but I’m not sure that’s the case. There’s a whole raft of detail that now confirms what many of our intuitions were, and that’s a step forward. One thing that’s of paramount interest, I think, is that thus far no one has disputed any of the facts contained in the data dump.

This is good—facts are good things. For example, we now know that it’s a fact that the British government’s slavishness to the US embarrassed even the US government, and that Prince Andrew can be an oaf, but a highly amusing one, particularly about geography, and that the Vatican was upset that the Irish government didn’t intervene to stop the investigations into priest child abuse in the Irish Catholic Church, and that the US government actively tried to undermine the Kyoto agreement at the Copenhagen Climate talks. These are all things that if we didn’t know them to be facts, we could at least have intuited them as being likely—but it’s always nice to have your intuitions confirmed. Then there are some facts we didn’t know, like the fact that the US government pressured the Vatican to take the soft US line at Copenhagen, among others. I’m a financial analyst, and I like facts. That’s what makes transparency important. Continue reading

America vs. the Terrorists, 9/11/10: a status report, nine years on…

In September 11, 2001, al Qaeda terrorists hijacked four passenger jets. They flew three of them into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. The fourth was retaken by the passengers and crashed in a field in Pennsylvania. These things we know. Since then, much has transpired. For example:

  • The US invaded Afghanistan, the nation that had harbored the terrorists and their mastermind, Osama bin Laden. The war has not been uniformly well managed and attempts to install a stable self-government have so far failed. Many experts argue that our efforts there have been woefully counterproductive. Continue reading

Security as product placement

As Jack Bauer finishes his complete melt-down at the end of his eighth season, I’ve had 2 revelations:  1) he seemed to confirm 3 weeks ago the opinion of experts that torture “isn’t working” and 2) we’ve all been sold a lot of security myths that people want to believe are real. Continue reading

Nota Bene #104: Large Marge Sent Me

“Everything is changing. People are taking the comedians seriously and the politicians as a joke.” Who said it? Continue reading

Judgment and the burnt weeny terror plot

Did anyone expect this Obama character to be such a card? I seem to remember speeches and quips about judgment and its importance in leadership. No quibbles about that, it’s true and i would take a man of good judgment over one of ossified, bureaucratic experience in most cases but especially situations of threat or upheaval. As an American, i should be well-trained in this game; i’ve eaten enough Big Macs to know that they look nothing like the advertising picture used to entice me. Lukewarm, grey “meat.” Ah yes, move over Big Dog, Big Mac is running the show now.

I think that i’m supposed to be comforted by his “surge” of federal air marshals. What is it with this guy and surges? See that problem, a surge will fix it. Hell, only a surge will fix it. I feel the same way about hammers, but i don’t act on it.
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A nation of five-year-olds

You know that we’ve reached a new level of Sovietization when you’re treated to statements from the Transportation Security Administration claiming confusion to be all a part of the plan. If you’re confused then the terrorists will be confused too. Freedom’s last hope is that nobody knows what’s going on, and the subtext is that not establishing a protocol publicly allows the TSA to be “flexible.” Just remember that even in their flexibility, the organs never make mistakes.
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We're all porn stars now, thanks to airport security

“Rodney Deegen was surprised alone in his security booth where he was pleasuring himself while staring at ghost-like images of naked children. He was arrested immediately. Investigators suspect that he may have distributed some 350,000 images of naked people over the past 18 months.”

You remember that story, don’t you? Was all over the press in July 2012? Oh, wait, that hasn’t happened yet. Still to come, so to say. Let me get my thoughts arranged. Continue reading

The end of the world as we know it—Review: One Second After by William Forstchen

A bomb goes off high above the earth, and one second after, the world ends—not in a bang but a whimper.

book_coverWilliam Forstchen’s brilliantly disturbing book, One Second After, takes place in a post-apocalyptic America. The country has been brought to its knees by three nuclear missiles launched by unknown foes. The power of the attack comes not from the blasts themselves but from the electromagnetic pulse (EMP) it emits.

An EMP, Forstchen points out, could completely knock out America’s electrical infrastructure. Miles and miles of high-tension wires would absorb the power of the EMP, magnifying it beyond the ability of virtually any circuit-breaker to stop. Electrical systems would overload. Anything with delicate electrical circuitry—like cars, computers, and even calculators—would be fried.

And in Forstchen’s world, America without power would be hell on earth. Continue reading

What happens when all the lights go out?

An S&R exclusive interview

William Forstchen has a bad dream—a really bad dream—that goes something like this:

headshot-bill_forstchenA cataclysmic attack throws the United States back to the dark ages, with no electricity, no communication or transportation networks, and no medicines. The most vulnerable members of society—the very young and the very old—begin to die off first, but soon hundreds of thousands of people, millions of people, begin dying. Rogue bands of lawless predators, living by rule of force rather than by rule of law, prey on weakened communities. The government, crippled, can’t come to anyone’s rescue.

And all it takes is a single bomb detonated high in the atmosphere, two hundred miles above the continent.

“Welcome to my nightmare,” Forstchen says with the kind of grim chuckle usually reserved for gallows humor.

But this is no joke. “It sounds like it’s science fiction, Mayan-prophecy, end-of-the-world stuff,” Forstchen admits, “but it’s dead-on real.” Continue reading

Being an American means being an active critic of government

I am a citizen of the United States of America. In this country, I can criticize my government as intelligently, as profanely, or as stupidly as I wish. I can call the president of the nation an unintelligent, uninspiring, and incompetent leader — which I have done. I can call my representative in Congress a buffoonish party hack — which I have done — and urge his removal from office by the voters. I can attack the policies enacted by government at all levels as often as I wish.

I can assemble with others to complain about the government. I can petition the government for redress of grievances. I can practice a religion free of government interference. Most importantly, I have the right to speak my mind. I can say whatever I want about the government short of advocating violence against it. I am free to speak or write critically about the actions or inactions of my government.

I can be a critic of my government because for hundreds of years, hundreds of thousands of Americans before me fought and died for my right to do that.
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Domestic terrorism: the mainstream media must stop spreading the Lone Wolf Flu

There’s a wicked little meme is going around and it seems to have infected a lot of people we’d have hoped were immune. Unfortunately this mental and linguistic virus is particularly virulent, and left untreated it has the potential to be lethal.

I’m referring, of course, to the “Lone Wolf” Flu. It’s precisely the sort of bug we’d expect to strike conservative talk show hosts across the nation – and it has – but lately it’s turned up in what were once considered to be some of the most objective and sanitary environments in the American media landscape.

I’ll stop torturing the metaphor now, lest it seem like I’m treating the subject too lightly. Instead, let’s examine a couple of news items that do considerable damage to the truth of our domestic terror problem. First, a June 13 AP story bylined by Devlin Barrett and Eileen Sullivan came across the wires with this headline: “Shootings show threat of ‘lone wolf’ terrorists.” And yesterday the Wall St. Journal joined in with “FBI Seeks to Target Lone Extremists,” which explained that “[l]one-wolf offenders continue to be of great concern to law enforcement.” Continue reading

Memo to the Right Wing: Put up or shut up

By Sara Robinson

Dear Conservatives:

Your fellow Americans demand an answer — and we want it now. Just one simple question:

Are you deliberately trying to start a civil war?

Just answer the question. Yes or no. Don’t insult us with elisions, evasions, dithering, qualifications, or conditional answers. We need to know what your intentions are — and we need to know NOW. People are being shot dead in the streets of America at the rate of several per month now. You may not want responsibility for this — but the whackadoodles pulling the triggers make no bones about who put them up to this.

You did. Continue reading

Daxis, pt. 1: son of the Devil

by Michael Tracey

“O hateful error, melancholy’s child!
Why dost thou show, to the apt thoughts of men,
The things that are not?”

- (Shakespeare, Julius Caesar, ib, 67)

Then something strange happened. In 2002, a friend of mine Mike Sandrock, a sports writer for the Boulder Daily Camera, was in Paris and met a young American who it quickly became clear, after Mike had mentioned he was from Boulder, was extremely interested in JonBenet and in me.

After Mike had returned he received an email from this man, who used the email handle “De-cember25 1996,” signed the mail with the letter “D” and wrote that he very much wanted to communicate with me. Continue reading