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Posts Tagged ‘Federal control’

Money from the U.S. Federal government may have helped pay for the guns and ammunition used by James Holmes to murder a dozen people and wound scores of others in the movie theater massacre in Aurora, Colo., July 20.

This startling news was reported in the July 23 New York Times—but it was buried deep within the paper, halfway through a story about President Obama’s visit to Aurora.

In the story, the Times reports: “The police believe that Mr. Holmes began planning his rampage for months, when he began acquiring the materials that he would use in both the shooting and to rig his apartment.”

The article goes on to say:

“There were also clues as to how Mr. Holmes might have paid for the weapons and other materials he acquired. He was receiving a $26,000 stipend, in monthly installments of $2,166, for a National Institutes of Health neuroscience training grant for the graduate program he was enrolled in at the University of Colorado-Denver Anschutz Medical Campus, a spokeswoman said.”

In a front-page article in the same edition of the newspaper, the Times reports that Holmes “ordered 3,000 rounds of handgun ammunition, 3,000 rounds for an assault rifle, and 35 shells for a 12-gauge shotgun—an amount of firepower that costs roughly $3,000 at the online sites—in the four months before the shooting.”

There is no reason to believe—as of yet—that anyone within any Federal agency was directing Holmes to buy firearms or ammunition. There is no hard evidence to suggest the involvement of any government agency in the incident in any way. But the fact remains that federal dollars were likely used to pay for the weapons and ammunition.

“Oh, what a stretch!” some might exclaim. But is it? How would the Federal government itself view a situation in which an individual funneled $2,000 per month to someone who used that money to buy weapons and ammunition to commit a domestic atrocity against civilians? Would the Federal government be at all interested in looking into the matter to determine whether the funds were transferred with the intent to bankroll terrorism?

If the Patriot Act and the United States Code are any guide, then the Federal government would be very interested indeed. In fact, Federal law provides for prison terms of up to 15 years for anyone who provides “material support” of terrorism and life imprisonment if such support results in loss of life.

Under Title IV, Subtitle B of the Patriot Act, the phrase “to engage in terrorist activity” is given numerous definitions, including this one:

. . . to commit an act that the actor knows, or reasonably should know, affords material support, including a safe house, transportation, communications, funds, transfer of funds or other material financial benefit, false documentation or identification, weapons (including chemical, biological, or radiological weapons), explosives, or training . . .

[emphasis added]

Under 18 USC § 2339A of the United States Code, anyone who provides “material support or resources or conceals or disguises the nature, location, source, or ownership of material support or resources, knowing or intending that they are to be used in preparation for, or in carrying out” certain terrorist acts may be “imprisoned not more than 15 years, or both, and, if the death of any person results, shall be imprisoned for any term of years or for life.”

Material support of terrorists is defined in the same section of the United States Code as, among other things, “currency or monetary instruments or financial securities.”

Should this transfer of Federal money to a man who bought arms and ammunition to commit an atrocity not at least be examined? Or is the Federal government above being held to its own standards of scrutiny?

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A federal protection that comes with exemptions is no protection at all. Note that the feds do not vouch for the accuracy of the information they secretly keep. This is a formula for gross abuse.

Last Friday, the federal government’s new anti-terror database, the Terror Screening Watchlist Service, went live. The database is loaded with an unknown amount of personal information, including names, photographs and biometric data. In a new turn that has civil liberties advocates crying foul, the Department of Homeland Security is claiming all information contained in the watchlist is confidential.

Earlier today, the Electronic Privacy Information Center, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and several other groups filed a formal complaint with DHS about the blanket exemptions to the Privacy Act.

Under DHS’ rules guidelines for the Terror Watch Lists, individuals “do not have an opportunity to decline to provide information” for the database, and cannot obtain the relevant information through the Federal Privacy Act. The Privacy Act is one of the milestone reforms passed in the wake of the Watergate spying scandal. It permits individuals to obtain law enforcement files about them by the government, with the intent of correcting incorrect information.

Read the rest at KALW News.

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Is there nothing they won’t consider harassing us over? Do they not realize they are killing the proverbial goose that laid the golden egg? Once all private enterprise is crushed, whom will they leech off of?

A new rule being proposed by the federal Department of Transportation would require farmers to get commercial drivers licenses.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, which is a part of DOT, wants to adopt standards that would reclassify all farm vehicles and implements as Commercial Motor Vehicles, officials said. Likewise, the proposal, if adopted, would require all farmers and everyone on the farm who operates any of the equipment to obtain a CDL, they added.

The proposed rule change would mean that anyone who drives a tractor or operates any piece of motorized farming equipment would be required to pass the same tests and complete the same detailed forms and logs required of semi-tractor trailer drivers.

Drivers would keep logs of information including hours worked and miles traveled. Vehicles would be required to display DOT numbers. A CDL in Virginia costs $64 for eight years, or $8 per year, not including the cost of an instructional class and the written test.

Read the rest at the Gazette-Virginian.

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More and more, both houses of the U.S. Congress are demonstrating that they are merely ceremonial bodies that rubber-stamp legislation that advances the corporate, defense, and financial interests that own them.

An amendment offered on May 24 by Sen. Ron Wyden would have challenged the Administration’s reliance on what he called “secret law” and required the Attorney General to explain the legal basis for its intelligence collection activities under the USA PATRIOT Act.  But that and other proposed amendments to the PATRIOT Act have been blocked in the Senate.

“The public will be surprised… when they learn about some of the interpretations of the PATRIOT Act,” Sen. Wyden said, based on his access to classified correspondence between the Justice Department and the Senate Intelligence Committee.

“U.S. Government officials should not secretly reinterpret public laws and statutes in a manner that is inconsistent with the public’s understanding of these laws or describe the execution of these laws in a way that misinforms or misleads the public.”

Read the rest at Secrecy News.

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The Feds hate cash because it’s nearly impossible to track and control. Now they’re dangling the carrot of early tax refunds to get people to adopt their new card. Predictably, they’re going after the segment of the population that’s least savvy about personal finance—the savviest avoid being in the position of being owed money by the Treasury in the first place. The Treasury Dept. laughingly claims that this card gives users more control over their finances. The truth is that it will give the federal government and the banks that own it greater control over private accounts.

WASHINGTON – Timed for tax season, the U.S. Department of the Treasury launched a pilot today to offer taxpayers a safe, convenient and low-cost financial account for the electronic delivery of their federal tax refunds.  The new account card option provides everyday money-saving conveniences and consumer protection features for Americans with limited or no access to traditional banking services.

“This pilot program will provide low- and moderate-income Americans with a low-cost option for faster delivery of their federal tax refund,” said Deputy Secretary of the Treasury Neal Wolin. “This innovative card can be used for everyday financial transactions, such as receiving wages by direct deposit, withdrawing cash, making purchases, paying bills and building savings safely and conveniently, giving users more control over their financial futures.”

As the next step in this pilot, originally announced in September, Treasury will mail letters next week to 600,000 low- and moderate-income individuals nationwide.  The letters will invite these taxpayers to consider activating a MyAccountCard Visa® Prepaid Debit Card in time to have their 2010 federal tax refund direct deposited to the card.  Compared to paper checks, direct deposit provides a safer, faster and more convenient way to receive a federal tax refund as well as other regular income.

Also this week, Treasury began a companion pilot to encourage tens of thousands of current and potential payroll card users to direct deposit their 2010 federal tax refund onto existing payroll cards.  Nationwide, more than 1.7 million workers use payroll cards to receive and access their wages, often because they do not have bank accounts.  Working with ADP, a provider of payroll services, Treasury will highlight the safety, ease and convenience of direct deposit onto payroll cards through tax season communications, including materials distributed with pay statements.

Read more at the U.S. Dept. of the Treasury.

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From Alex Jones and Infowars.com:

A plethora of tyrannical campaigns have been initiated and designed to break up communities and turn citizens against one another. The justifications for these fascist programs are always a matter of national security. The real reason for these programs and even the events that brought them into existence is to set up a police control grid.

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This is intimidation, pure and simple. Fundamental legal protections have been swept away in the “war on terror”—whose putative purpose was to go after scary bearded men living in caves—and the state is now going after citizens who speak out against government corruption. When will they come knocking on “Government Against the People”‘s door? When will they come knocking on your door?

A local blogger who was critical of Rep. Billy Long during last year’s congressional campaign has been interviewed by the FBI about his encounters with the congressman.

Clay Bowler, who lives in Christian County, says he was shocked to find an agent from the Federal Bureau of Investigation at his doorstep. Accompanying the agent was Greene County Sheriff Jim Arnott.

The agent asked Bowler if he was a threat to Long, a notion Bowler finds laughable.

“I’m not a threat to Billy Long,” Bowler said Thursday. “I find the whole thought very funny, because I’m such an advocate for constitutional rights that I would never do anything that would put in jeopardy those constitutional rights like the Second Amendment.”

Read the rest at KSPR Television.

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As people in the U.S. expresses outrage over last weekend’s mass shooting in Tucson, we might well ask ourselves: Where’s the outrage over this?

LAHORE: Of the 1,184 persons killed by the American drones in 124 attacks in 2010, around 59 percent were innocent civilians while the remaining 41 percent were terrorists belonging to numerous militant groups based in the Pak-Afghan tribal belt.

According to data gathered by The News primarily from local and international news sources, 703 of those who were perished by the US drones between January 1 and December 31, 2010, were civilians, including women and children, while 481 others were commanders, fighters and activists of different militant groups. The drones hit three types of targets in the tribal belt – terrorists’ compounds, houses sheltering terrorists and vehicles carrying terrorists.

Of the 124 drone strikes, the largest number – 53 (or 43 percent of the total drone attacks) – were directed at alleged terrorists’ compounds, followed by 41 strikes (or 33 percent of the total attacks) targeting houses allegedly sheltering terrorists while the remaining 187 attacks (or 24 percent of the total strikes) were directed at vehicles which were allegedly carrying terrorists. As the velocity of the American drones has increased enormously under the Obama administration, they are now hitting their targets with precision.

Read the rest at The News International.

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The author of this column claims that the sole purpose of the Dept. of Homeland security is to provide bonanzas for favored congressional districts. Its purpose goes further than that: To maintain a constant mood of low-level fear so the people will continue going along with government abuses of power.

Hardly anyone has seriously scrutinized either the priorities or the spending patterns of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and its junior partner, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), since their hurried creation in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. Sure, they get criticized plenty. But year in, year out, they continue to grow faster and cost more — presumably because Americans think they are being protected from terrorism by all that spending. Yet there is no evidence whatsoever that the agencies are making Americans any safer.

DHS serves only one clear purpose: to provide unimaginable bonanzas for favored congressional districts around the United States, most of which face no statistically significant security threat at all. One thinks of the $436,504 that the Blackfeet Nation of Montana received in fiscal 2010 “to help strengthen the nation against risks associated with potential terrorist attacks”; the $1,000,000 that the village of Poynette, Wisconsin (pop. 2,266) received in fiscal 2009 for an “emergency operations center”; or the $67,000 worth of surveillance equipment purchased by Marin County, California, and discovered, still in its original packaging, four years later. And indeed, every U.S. state, no matter how landlocked or underpopulated, receives, by law, a fixed percentage of homeland security spending every year.

As for the TSA, I am not aware of a single bomber or bomb plot stopped by its time-wasting procedures. In fact, TSA screeners consistently fail to spot the majority of fake “bombs” and bomb parts the agency periodically plants to test their skills. In Los Angeles, whose airport was targeted by the “millennium plot” on New Year’s 2000, screeners failed some 75 percent of these tests.

Read the rest at Foreign Policy.

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Notice how, over time, we have become conditioned to believe that rights are granted to us by government—a belief that was abhorrent to the Founding Fathers, who believed certain rights are innate and inviolate. When rights are granted by government, they may be easily withdrawn, and a right that may be withdrawn is no right at all.

Click on Maine, and you find that the entire state is highlighted as a “Constitution Free Zone,” meaning that we lack full constitutional rights.  How can that be?  The United States Border and Customs Patrol defines the border as anywhere within one hundred miles of the physical geographic border.  We tested that theory in Maine, and it’s true: all of Maine falls within 100 miles of either the coast or Canada. That means Border Patrol asserts its authority to stop anyone at anytime in the State of Maine without probable cause or reasonable suspicion to check your “immigration status.”

Border Patrol has been seizing laptops and cell phones from travelers, and now, the agency has begun to make routine inquiries into American’s political and religious beliefs.  Rest assured, the ACLU is on the case.  The ACLU has sued to stop Border Patrol from seizing and searching laptops and other electronics without reasonable suspicion.  Last week, the ACLU requested a formal investigation of this practice in a letter to Department of Homeland Security Inspector General Richard Skinner.

This week, we learned that Border Patrol also just invested in the controversial license plate scanners.  The MCLU was successful in working with the legislature to pass important safeguards on the use of this technology.  We will be watching Border Patrol to make sure they comply with state law.  The Constitution does in fact still apply in Maine.  We won’t accede to the Constitution Free Zone moniker yet.

From the Maine Civil Liberties Union.

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