Saturday, February 28, 2015

Denver policeman accused repeatedly of excessive force taken off streets

Reuters    By Keith Coffman

DENVER (Reuters) - A Denver police officer who has cost the city more than $1 million to settle excessive force cases for which he was never disciplined has been pulled from street patrol, a department spokesman said on Friday.
Shawn Miller has been placed on "non-line assignment" duty pending a review of his conduct and a plan to improve his performance, Denver Police Commander Matthew Murray told Reuters.
According to internal affairs files released this week, 40 complaints have been lodged against Miller during his nine years on the force, nearly half from citizens who accused him of excessive force, using profane language and threatening to arrest people for no reason.
The details emerge at a testing time for the Denver Police Department, which has been embroiled in controversy since the fatal shooting of a 17-year-old girl by two officers last month that led to protests.
Murray said complaints against officers always triggered automatic performance reviews, but the process has been modified to require supervisors to provide a written plan of how to address the individual's behavior, whether or not any formal disciplinary action is taken.
"That's where we dropped the ball before," Murray said.
Two excessive force cases involving Miller resulted in large payouts to settle federal lawsuits filed against him and the city.
In one instance, the city paid $225,000 to a man who was struck by Miller and suffered a broken leg following a verbal altercation.
Most recently, it agreed to pay $860,000 to James Moore, a disabled veteran who said he was beaten by Miller and another officer without provocation after they responded to his home on a noise complaint. [ID:nL1N0VE1YV]
The pair "beat Mr. Moore with such brutality while he was helpless on the ground that he lost consciousness, his heart stopped beating and paramedics or law enforcement officers had to administer CPR to save his life," the lawsuit read.
The lawyer for both victims, David Lane, called Miller "one of the most violent officers on the force who should not only be fired but prosecuted."
The internal affairs records show Miller was disciplined just once for a citizen complaint, a two-day suspension without pay for manhandling an innocent woman in 2010.
Murray said excessive force cases can be hard to prove without corroboration and because victims often refuse to work with investigators.
"If there is independent evidence, we will move forward if it's appropriate," he said"

California Cartridge-Microstamp Law Upheld

(Bloomberg) — California’s ban on new semiautomatic handguns that don’t stamp identifying information on the cartridge was upheld by a U.S. judge in a major loss for gun-rights groups.
The law barring sales of handguns without the microstamping technology doesn’t violate the Constitution’s Second Amendment because gun owners don’t have a right to buy specific types of firearms, U.S. District Judge Kimberly Mueller in Sacramento said in her ruling.
“Plaintiffs insist they have the right to determine the precise way in which they would exercise their Second Amendment rights,” Mueller said. The insistence upon particular handguns falls “outside the scope of the right to bear arms,” she said.
California in 2013 became the first state to bar retailers from selling new models of semiautomatic handguns not equipped to imprint the weapon’s make, model and serial number on the cartridge when a bullet is fired. The statute was supported by law enforcement because it can help deter or solve crime.
Thursday’s ruling that the requirement doesn’t violate the Second Amendment will prompt other states to impose similar requirements, in particular because there’s wide popular support for ballistic fingerprinting, said Allison Anderman, an attorney with the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence in San Francisco.
“Microstamping is a really important tool for law enforcement,” Anderman said in a phone interview.

De Facto Ban

Calguns Foundation Inc. and the Second Amendment Foundation argued that the requirement amounts to a de facto ban on sales of new semiautomatics because several manufacturers said they wouldn’t produce guns that included microstamp technology even if it meant their firearms couldn’t be sold in California, the most populous U.S. state.
About 1.5 million handguns were legally sold in California since opponents sued in 2009 to block the microstamping requirement, which according to Mueller’s ruling shows that the law doesn’t effectively ban the sale of firearms in the state.
The District of Columbia, the only other place in the U.S. to mandate microstamping, is set to begin enforcing that requirement next year, Anderman said.
The two gun rights groups said in a court filing Thursday that they will appeal the ruling by Mueller, who was nominated by Democratic President Barack Obama.

‘Strong Case’

“The court’s reasoning, that California’s prohibition of most handguns doesn’t even implicate the Second Amendment, is interesting,” Alan Gura, a lawyer for the groups, said Friday in an e-mail. “But we’re confident that we have a strong case on appeal.”
The case may go all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which in 2008 upheld individuals’ right to own handguns, calling them the “quintessential self-defense weapon.”
The 2008 high court ruling left room for gun-control backers to impose new rules to promote safety. California, New York and Maryland, among other states, enacted restrictions that U.S. gun manufacturers and retailers contend are intended to regulate their $14 billion industry out of business.
The California law was signed in 2007 by then-Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican, and was put on hold until 2013 when state Attorney General Kamala Harris, a Democrat running for the U.S. Senate next year, determined the technology was available to all gun makers and wasn’t encumbered by patent claims.
“The court’s ruling means that more gun crimes will be solved, more lives will be saved, and California communities will be safer,” Mike Feuer, the Los Angeles city attorney and the author of the microstamping bill, said in a statement.
The case is Pena v. Cid, 09-cv-01185, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of California (Sacramento)

Friday, February 27, 2015

Global Warming: Follow the Money

"Last summer, a minority staff report from the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works gave details on a “Billionaire’s Club” — a shadowy network of charitable foundations that distribute billions to advance climate alarmism. Shadowy nonprofits such as the Energy Foundation and Tides Foundation distributed billions to far-left green groups such as the Natural Resources Defense Council, which in turn send staff to the EPA who then direct federal grants back to the same green groups. It is incestuous. It is opaque. Major media ignored the report."


Washington activists plan peaceful armed assembly response to activist’s arrest

Reacting to the “catch and release” of one of its leaders for openly carrying a firearm on federal grounds that ban firearms inside the facility, Washington activists are planning a responsive armed demonstration, the Our State, Our Rights coalition announced today on Facebook. Liberty for All and Defend Amendment X will gather in front of the Tom Foley Federal Building in Spokane next Friday to protest the arrest and detention of Anthony Bosworth by DHS police on Wednesday.
“Bosworth ... was arrested, detained for five hours in a steel cage without charges, denied Miranda rights, and access to an attorney, interrogated by the FBI as a domestic terrorist, and then released with a citation for ‘failure to comply,’ even though his civil rights were clearly violated at every turn,” the protest announcement explains. “His only action was that he was standing outside the federal courthouse at a 10th amendment rally, while legally openly carrying a firearm. The Feds have still not returned his firearms.”

Read the rest @

Big Barbie is Watching You – Meet the WiFi Connected Barbie Doll that Talks to Your Children and Records Them

Earlier this month, I highlighted the fact that the latest Samsung Smart TV can and will listen to your conversations, and will share the details with a third party in the post: A Very Slippery Slope – Yes, Your Samsung Smart TV Can Listen to Your Private Conversations.
Well a couple of weeks later, and we learn that Mattel’s latest high-tech Barbie doll will bring the “internet of things” right into your child’s playpen. From the The Register:
Toymaker Mattel has unveiled a high-tech Barbie that will listen to your child, record its words, send them over the internet for processing, and talk back to your kid. It will email you, as a parent, highlights of your youngster’s conversations with the toy.

If Samsung’s spying smart TVs creeped you out, this doll may be setting off alarm bells too – so we drilled into what’s going on.
The Hello Barbie doll is developed by San Francisco startup ToyTalk, which says it has more than $31m in funding from Greylock Partners, Charles River Ventures, Khosla Ventures, True Ventures and First Round Capital, and others.
Its Wi-Fi-connected Barbie toy has a microphone, a speaker, a small embedded computer with a battery that lasts about an hour, and Wi-Fi hardware. When you press a button on her belt buckle, Barbie wakes up, asks a question, and turns on its microphone while the switch is held down.
The doll is loaded up with scripts to read, and one of these is selected depending on what the kid said. If the tyke shows an interest in a particular past-time or thing, the doll’s backend software will know to talk about that – giving the kid the impression that chatty Barbie’s a good, listening friend.

Crucially, the recorded audio of children’s voices (and whatever else happens to be going on around them when they push the buckle button) is kept on ToyTalk’s computers. This material is supposed to help Mattel and ToyTalk improve Barb’s scripted replies. It’s also good test data for developing the voice-recognition code.The ToyTalk privacy policy page, dated last April well before Hello Barbie was revealed this week, states:
When users interact with ToyTalk, we may capture photographs or audio or video recordings (the “Recordings”) of such interactions, depending upon the particular application being used.
We may use, transcribe and store such Recordings to provide and maintain the Service, to develop, test or improve speech recognition technology and artificial intelligence algorithms, and for other research and development or internal purposes.
We may make such Recordings available to the parent account holder and permit the parent account holder to share such Recordings with third parties.
By using Hello Barbie, parents agree to these terms. It’s not clear how long the recordings stay on ToyTalk’s systems.
You’ve been warned: Big Barbie is Watching You. 

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Prosecutor: Charges dismissed for man with antique gun

A felony gun charge against a Port Elizabeth resident arrested by police last year for possessing an unloaded antique weapon has been dismissed by the Cumberland County Prosecutor's Office, according to a news release issued Wednesday.
Prosecutor Jennifer Webb-McRae announced in the release that the state will exercise "prosecutorial discretion to dismiss" the second-degree unlawful possession of a weapon charge against Gordon N. Van Gilder.
"Accordingly, the public should be forewarned about the prescriptions against possessing a firearm — even an antique — in a vehicle," she continued.
Webb-McRae declined to comment further on the dismissal.
Van Gilder's Eatontown attorney Evan Nappen said he was delighted to hear charges were dropped.
The attorney learned of the dismissal while in an interview with The Daily Journal.
"That is very good," he said while reading the news release over the phone. "I commend the prosecutor for exercising her dis
cretion accordingly."
If convicted of the second-degree charge, Van Gilder could have faced a maximum of 10 years behind bars
The charge also carried a minimum 3.5-year sentence that could have seriously jeopardized Van Gilder's public school pension, his right to vote and his reputation in the community, Nappen said.
"I'm very appreciative that they exercised their discretion here and did the right thing," Nappen said.
Nappen said his client will follow up on trying to retrieve the centuries-old "Queen Anne" flintlock antique pistol now in custody of the county.
"It's a valuable collector's item," he said.
The dismissal comes after a two-week long public outcry against state and law enforcement officials, with many charging that officials overstepped in their pursuit of charges against the elderly man over an unloaded antique weapon.
Van Gilder, a 72-year-old former educator at Millville Senior High School, was arrested at his Port Elizabeth home by members of the Cumberland County Sheriff's Department on Nov. 21, 2014.
The arrest came a day after he and 22-year-old Adam Puttergill were stopped in their Toyota Tacoma by Sheriff's Department officers in a Millville neighborhood.
The two said they were in the process of returning to their Port Elizabeth home after visiting a Vineland pawn shop, at which Van Gilder purchased the 300-year-old flintlock pistol.
Puttergill was acting as the driver for Van Gilder, who suffers severe arthritis, he said.
He also lives with Van Gilder, who informally adopted him about a decade ago.
Cumberland County Sheriff Robert Austino later said his officers pulled the two over because they were in a suspicious neighborhood known for illegal drug activity.
While talking to the two, officers at the scene discovered empty heroin bags and a broken scale used for measuring drugs, Austino said.
The discovery prompted a full search of the vehicle and officers also found Van Gilder's 300-year-old flintlock pistol wrapped in cloth inside the glove compartment.
Puttergill was taken into custody on an outstanding Vineland Municipal Court contempt warrant, he told The Daily Journal last week.
He also was charged with possessing two prescription pills that were not in their pharmacy container. The drug charge has since been handled by Puttergill's attorney in Millville Municipal Court, resulting in a conditional discharge of the charge.
While Van Gilder was let go at the scene, Sheriff's Officers returned to his home the next day and arrested and booked the 72-year-old on the unlawful weapons charge for his unregistered gun.
The incident quickly went on to attract state and national attention following revelation of the arrest by The Daily Journal last week.
Nappen and other public supporters of Van Gilder accused the Sheriff's Department of a "smear campaign" for charging the elderly man with what they view as an egregious and overstepping charge.
The incident even spurred at least two New Jersey lawmakers to introduce bills that would provide state judges with sentencing discretion in such future cases involving those charged with unlawful weapons possession.
A bill sponsored by state Sen. Jeff Van Drew and Assemblyman Bob Andrzejczak, whose district includes Millville, would further revise the Graves Act, allowing courts to permit a person convicted of unlawful possession of a firearm admittance to pretrial intervention or supervisory treatment if they had no known association with a criminal street gang and no criminal convictions.

Quiet Change Expands ATF Power to Seize Property

From Cato at Liberty

  "A country that spoke itself into existence with assertions of the rights to life, liberty, and property can ill afford yet another government agency with the power to seize your property without so much as a criminal charge."

A quick glance at the Federal Register (Vol. 80, No. 37, p. 9987-88) today reveals that Attorney General Eric Holder, who earned cautious praise last month for a small reform to the federal equitable sharing program, has now delegated authority to the Director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) to seize and “administratively forfeit” property involved in suspected drug offenses.  Holder temporarily delegated this authority to the ATF on a trial basis in 2013, and today made the delegation permanent while lauding the ATF for seizing more than $19.3 million from Americans during the trial period.
Historically, when the ATF uncovered contraband subject to forfeiture under drug statutes, it was required to either refer the property to the DEA for administrative forfeiture proceedings or to a U.S. Attorney in order to initiate a judicial forfeiture action.  Under today’s change, the ATF will now be authorized to seize property related to alleged drug offenses and initiate administrative forfeiture proceedings all on its own.
The DOJ claims this rule change doesn’t affect individual rights (and was thus exempt from the notice and comment requirements of the Administrative Procedure Act) and that the change is simply an effort to streamline the federal government’s forfeiture process.  Those who now stand more likely to have their property taken without even a criminal charge may beg to differ.
Further, the department claims that forcing the ATF to go through a judicial process in order to seize property requires too much time and money.  Whereas an “uncontested administrative forfeiture can be perfected in 60-90 days for minimal cost […] the costs associated with judicial forfeiture can amount to hundreds or thousands of dollars and the judicial process generally can take anywhere from 6 months to years.”  In other words, affording judicial process to Americans suspected of engaging in criminal activity takes too long and costs too much. 
Note that the above quote speaks of an “uncontested” forfeiture.  This refers to a situation in which the property owner fails to engage the byzantine process for recovering their property. Defenders of civil asset forfeiture often claim that such failures to contest amount to admissions of guilt, but there is substantial evidence that many victims of civil asset forfeiture simply lack the time, resources, and legal knowledge to fight the bottomless resources of government to get their property back.  This is especially true when it comes to the War on Drugs, within which the bulk of civil forfeiture targets are poor, lack legal education, and lack access to attorneys and other avenues to vindicate their rights.  There are also troubling examples of the government simply never initiating proceedings against the stolen property and thus never giving the owners a chance to “contest” anything at all.
At a time when Attorney General Holder himself has acknowledged the need for asset forfeiture reform, the authorization to take the property of American citizens should be shrinking, not expanding. A country that spoke itself into existence with assertions of the rights to life, liberty, and property can ill afford yet another government agency with the power to seize your property without so much as a criminal charge.

HSUS Declares Maine Bear Hunting a Target in 2016 – For the Third Time

 ***“We are going to use the ballot box and the democratic process to stop all hunting in the United States… We will take it species by species until all hunting is stopped in California. Then we will take it state by state.” -Wayne Pacelle- president-HSUS ***

Don't forget who we're dealing with here...

The radicals at HSUS are making it crystal clear that they do not respect the will of the Maine voters – who have twice sent HSUS and their allies packing with resounding defeats on the SAME issue…

Just months after a resounding defeat by Maine voters, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) has announced plans to bring yet another ballot issue on bear hunting back to Maine.
On Tuesday Feb. 24, lawyers for HSUS and the state of Maine were in court to debate the lawsuit brought by HSUS against the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. That suit sought to stop the state’s wildlife experts from explaining to voters the true dangers of HSUS’s bear hunting ban. Despite an overwhelming decision by Maine Superior Court Justice Joyce Wheeler that sided with the state’s right to provide comments, HSUS continues to pursue a legal challenge.
As part of the discussions about the pending litigation, an attorney for HSUS, Rachel Wertheimer, advised the court that they will again put the question on the 2016 ballot, and will be filing the initial paperwork soon.
“I guess we shouldn’t be surprised that these guys will stop at nothing to pursue their radical, anti-hunting agenda,” said Nick Pinizzotto, USSA president and CEO. “They spent more than $2.5 million dollars trying to buy an election. When it was clear they were about to lose, they sued the state to prevent the true experts from explaining the dangers of the issue to voters.  And now they are making it crystal clear that they do not respect the will of the voters – who have twice sent HSUS and their allies packing.”
In November, voters rejected the bear hunting ban (Question 1) by a 53.6 to 46.3 percent margin, just as they did in 2004 – the last time HSUS brought the issue to Maine.
“How many times are we going to have to debate this? They’ve lost before the legislature, they’ve lost at the ballot box, and they’ve lost in the courts,” Pinizzotto continued. “This is nothing more than a direct look straight into the heart of the anti-hunting movement, a movement that will obviously stop at nothing to accomplish their agenda.”
About the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance The U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance (USSA)  is a 501(c)4 organization and provides direct lobbying and grassroots coalition support to protect and advance the rights of hunters, trappers, anglers and scientific wildlife management professionals.  The USSA is the only organization exclusively devoted to combating the attacks made on America’s sportsman traditions by anti-hunting and animal rights extremists. This is accomplished through coalition building, ballot issue campaigning and legislative and government relations.

Voters Get A Choice: Do As They’re Told, by Robert Gore

Democrats have one political imperative: to expand the size and power of the government. That leaves anyone who thinks it should shrink three options: the Republican party, a “fringe” party, or political independence. Republican worthies mumble rhetoric of limited government and individual freedom, but their policies departed from those lodestars long ago. Jeb Bush is the perfect Republican establishment candidate: distinguished lineage, fund-raising titan, former Southern governor, pro-business, and most importantly, he supports all the Republican policies favored by the worthies. Unfortunately for them and him, his candidacy is drawing little support from actual Republican voters; his poll numbers for a candidate with his name recognition are abysmal (see “Jeb and the ‘Immortal 306,’”
Those numbers highlight a critical issue for the Republicans: its elite is out of step on key issues with a substantial number of not just Republicans, but fringe party members and independents who might vote Republican. These differences cannot be finessed or “Big Tented” away. They are:
Immigration The Republican elite may take comfort from their big victory in 2014, but their voters were usually voting for candidates who pledged to do something about immigration. That something was not “immigration reform” that amounts to a ticket for welfare-state benefits and eventual citizenship for illegal immigrants. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor lost a primary in a huge upset because of this issue. Republican voters were incensed by President Obama’s “executive order amnesty,” despising both his policy and tactics. The “do something” Republican voters had in mind was to do something about it. Republican stalwart Ann Coulter has said: “If a Republican majority in both houses of Congress can’t stop Obama from issuing illegal immigrants Social Security cards and years of back welfare payments, there is no reason to vote Republican ever again” (“GOP Double-Crossing Traitors,” She is far more in tune with the average Republican voter than immigration reform touting Bush and his big money Republican donors.
Education Education in this country is a mess and the government’s fingerprints are all over it. At the local, pre-collegiate level, public schools are Democratic satraps. The teachers’ unions are the Democratic base, and surprise, surprise, government schools teach government propaganda! Why is anyone shocked that by the time students get to college, many need remedial classes and the majority are committed statists? College is increasingly financed by the government, turning graduates into debt slaves, and now Obama wants to grant another government goody—”free” community college. Steps towards reform that actually reform education would be in the direction of markets, those clever arrangements that promote free choice, reward the most efficient producers, supply consumers with what they want, and have propelled humanity from the Dark Ages to the modern era.
If we must have government schools, an incremental move towards the diversity characteristic of markets would be reinstating local control, to promote a variety of educational approaches that competed with each other and might lead to gradual, across-the-board improvement. Government standard-setting—Common Core—is a step in the opposite direction. Now that parents have seen Common Core’s bizarre pedagogical techniques, especially for mathematics and science, and its embedded propaganda, they have ignited a grass roots revolt. Jeb Bush endorses Common Core.
Foreign policy After Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya, the majority of Americans of all persuasions are against big new military commitments. Here the gulf between many ordinary Republicans—and a majority of the overall electorate—and the party’s elite may be at its widest. It’s not just that foreign wars cost American lives and trillions of dollars, it’s that the US gets less than nothing for its troubles. Since 9/11, the US government has been on a vicious circle in the Middle East. Each intervention has fueled new insurgencies and chaos, justifying (in the minds of the elite) further intervention, prompting (in the minds of most everyone else) skepticism and a marked reluctance to repeat the same mistakes. The Republican elite is making sure the candidates tow the line on this one, with only Rand Paul publicly expressing skepticism (undoubtedly dooming his candidacy). Jeb Bush has sworn fealty to the interventionists, bringing in many of his brother’s and father’s foreign policy advisors (see “Jeb Bush Exposed Part 1,” SLL, 2/20/15).
The national security state The war on terrorism has been used to justify a massive expansion of the government’s surveillance capabilities. It knows what you do on your computer, who you communicate with via your phone or the Internet and what you say, where you go in your car through either the car’s GPS or those ubiquitous cameras and soon-to-be ubiquitous drones, and what you buy and from whom you buy it. Televisions now have cameras and can spy on you, and it’s only a matter of time before your phone and appliances will be able to record and relay what you say. Anything with a microchip or plugged into the Internet gives the government a way to monitor you. This makes many Americans queasy; abuses have already been disclosed. There will be no defense of the Fourth Amendment from Mr. Bush. He has said that the National Security Agency’s program that collects bulk telephone records is “hugely important,” and that “For the life of me, I don’t understand the debate” over it (see “Jeb Bush Exposed Part 2,” SLL, 2/20/15).
What’s a plutocrat to do, if the peasants won’t do as their told? Fortunately for the Republican elite, there is one candidate who presses all their hot buttons and is imminently electable; who gets the automatic votes of the bought-off 47 percent (now more like 49 or 50 percent), and who epitomizes identity politics: Hillary Clinton. If the mass of Republicans and potentially Republican-leaning voters won’t follow where the elite lead, Hillary makes a fine fallback. Better a Democrat who stands for the “right” things than a Republican who doesn’t. The 2016 election will make it obvious to all but the most obtuse: there is one political party. It will continue to expand the government and its empire while the freedom of ordinary Americans continues to shrink.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Illinois Democrat’s ‘Firearms Registration Act’ may test new paradigm


Setting the state up for massive gun owner civil disobedience along the lines of what has occurred in California and is currently happening in New York and Connecticut, Democrat State Senator Jacqueline Y. Collins filed the Firearms Registration Act with the Secretary of State on Friday. The act was then presented for first reading and referred to the Democrat-dominated Assignments Committee.
Collins’ measure “[p]rovides that every person in the State must register each firearm he or she owns or possesses in accordance with the Act,” the official synopsis declares. It also “[p]rovides that a person shall not purchase or possess ammunition within this State without having first obtained a registration certificate identifying a firearm that is suitable for use with that ammunition, or a receipt demonstrating that the person has applied to register a suitable firearm under the Act and that the application is pending.”
In addition, it requires “the Department of State Police must complete a background check of any person who applies for: (1) a registration certificate for a firearm that was lawfully owned or possessed on the effective date of the Act, was brought into the State by a new resident, or was acquired by operation of law upon the death of the former owner; or (2) a renewal of a registration certificate unless, within 12 months of the date the renewal application is submitted, the applicant passed a background check conducted by the Department in connection with the applicant's acquisition of another firearm.”
Ominously, it also “Provides that it is a Class 2 felony to sell or transfer ownership of a firearm to another person without complying with the registration requirement of the Firearms Registration Act.” That can get someone three to seven years, a punishment equivalent to that people who intentionally transmit HIV are sentenced to.
This new batch of proposed infringements is in addition to requirements already imposed by Illinois State Law requiring gun owners to have a Firearms Owner Identification Card to purchase firearms and ammunition. In fact, it’s an in-your-face to gun owners from an avowed gun hater.
Collins is a former CBS-TV in Chicago “news” editor with credentials from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism and Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government, among other credentials from “progressive” academia. Fittingly, she was a “2001 Legislative Fellow for U.S. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton.” She was also endorsed by the Brady campaign at the same time it threw its weight behind (former?) “gun communist” Bobby Rush and future felons (and prohibited persons) Jesse Jackson, Jr. and Rod Blagojevich.
When she joined rabidly anti-gun “priest” Mike “Snuffy” Pfleger for a media blood dance, they were strangely silent on the fact that the ones doing the killings in Chicago are exempt from gun registration schemes they would impose on the law-abiding. That’s because in Haynes v. U.S., the Supreme Court ruled that requiring felons to register guns violated Fifth Amendment protections against self-incrimination.
Collins knows this, of course, as do all gun-grabbers who would require registration, which is a prerequisite for confiscation. That increasing numbers of gun owners know that and have defiantly told those enacting such Intolerable Acts to get bent is not lost on impotent and enraged state monopoly of violence cultists, who vent their fury by demanding others employ that violence to bend the “scofflaws” to their will.
Whether or not Collins’ latest deliberate act of spitting on freedom stands a chance of being enacted remains to be seen. Regardless, a critical mass of gun owners will not let that alter their resolve to hold fast to their rights and to not back up another inch. There’s a new paradigm, with a growing number of determined citizens recognizing what colleague Mike Vanderboegh has identified as two countries sharing the same territory, and where his fundamental question “Do the people serve the government or does the government serve the people?” has yet to be ultimately tested in our time.
Whether or not it is tested depends on how far domestic enemies with "appetites for the liberty and property" of others are willing to press those they would compel obedience from. If they're not willing to enforce against all, it will show a self-defeating weakness in the Chicago machine, and encourage other gun owners to join in and spread mass defiance even further. And if they are, we'll all get an unequivocal answer to that question.

Forced Blood Draws, DNA Collection and Biometric Scans: What Country Is This?

 From -

The Burning Platform

Guest Post by John W. Whitehead
The Fourth Amendment was designed to stand between us and arbitrary governmental authority. For all practical purposes, that shield has been shattered, leaving our liberty and personal integrity subject to the whim of every cop on the beat, trooper on the highway and jail official. The framers would be appalled.”—Herman Schwartz, The Nation
Our freedoms—especially the Fourth Amendment—are being choked out by a prevailing view among government bureaucrats that they have the right to search, seize, strip, scan, spy on, probe, pat down, taser, and arrest any individual at any time and for the slightest provocation.
Forced cavity searches, forced colonoscopies, forced blood draws, forced breath-alcohol tests, forced DNA extractions, forced eye scans, forced inclusion in biometric databases—these are just a few ways in which Americans are being forced to accept that we have no control over what happens to our bodies during an encounter with government officials.
Worse, on a daily basis, Americans are being made to relinquish the most intimate details of who we are—our biological makeup, our genetic blueprints, and our biometrics (facial characteristics and structure, fingerprints, iris scans, etc.)—in order to clear the nearly insurmountable hurdle that increasingly defines life in the United States: we are all guilty until proven innocent.
Thus far, the courts have done little to preserve our Fourth Amendment rights, let alone what shreds of bodily integrity remain to us.
For example, David Eckert was forced to undergo an anal cavity search, three enemas, and a colonoscopy after allegedly failing to yield to a stop sign at a Wal-Mart parking lot. Cops justified the searches on the grounds that they suspected Eckert was carrying drugs because his “posture [was] erect” and “he kept his legs together.” No drugs were found. During a routine traffic stop, Leila Tarantino was subjected to two roadside strip searches in plain view of passing traffic, during which a female officer “forcibly removed” a tampon from Tarantino. Nothing illegal was found. Nevertheless, such searches have been sanctioned by the courts, especially if accompanied by a search warrant (which is easily procured), as justified in the government’s pursuit of drugs and weapons.
Close to 600 motorists leaving Penn State University one Friday night were stopped by police and, without their knowledge or consent, subjected to a breathalyzer test using flashlights that can detect the presence of alcohol on a person’s breath. These passive alcohol sensors are being hailed as a new weapon in the fight against DUIs. However, because they cannot be used as the basis for arrest, breathalyzer tests are still required. And for those who refuse to submit to a breathalyzer, there are forced blood draws. One such person is Michael Chorosky, who was surrounded by police, strapped to a gurney and then had his blood forcibly drawn after refusing to submit to a breathalyzer test. “What country is this? What country is this?” cried Chorosky during the forced blood draw. Thirty states presently allow police to do forced blood draws on drivers as part of a nationwide “No Refusal” initiative funded by the federal government.

Not even court rulings declaring such practices to be unconstitutional in the absence of a warrant have slowed down the process. Now the police simply keep a magistrate on call to rubber stamp the procedure over the phone. That’s what is called an end-run around the law, and we’re seeing more and more of these take place under the rubric of “safety.”
The National Highway Safety Administration, the same government agency that funds the “No Refusal” DUI checkpoints and forcible blood draws, is also funding nationwide roadblocks aimed at getting drivers to “voluntarily” provide police with DNA derived from saliva and blood samples, reportedly to study inebriation patterns. When faced with a request for a DNA sample by police during a mandatory roadblock, most participants understandably fail to appreciate the “voluntary” nature of such a request. Unfortunately, in at least 28 states, there’s nothing voluntary about having one’s DNA collected by police in instances where you’ve been arrested, whether or not you’re actually convicted of a crime. The remaining states collect DNA on conviction. All of this DNA data is being fed to the federal government. Indeed, the United States has the largest DNA database in the world, CODIS, which is managed by the FBI and is growing at an alarming rate.
Airline passengers, already subjected to virtual strip searches, are now being scrutinized even more closely, with the Customs and Border Protection agency tasking airport officials with monitoring the bowel movements of passengers suspected of ingesting drugs. They even have a special hi-tech toilet designed to filter through a person’s fecal waste.
Iris scans, an essential part of the U.S. military’s boots-on-the-ground approach to keeping track of civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan, are becoming a de facto method of building the government’s already mammoth biometrics database. Funded by the Dept. of Justice, along with other federal agencies, the iris scan technology is being incorporated into police precincts, jails, immigration checkpoints, airports and even schools. School officials—from elementary to college—have begun using iris scans in place of traditional ID cards. As for parents wanting to pick their kids up from school, they have to first submit to an iris scan.
As for those endless pictures everyone so cheerfully uploads to Facebook (which has the largest facial recognition database in the world) or anywhere else on the internet, they’re all being accessed by the police, filtered with facial recognition software, uploaded into the government’s mammoth biometrics database and cross-checked against its criminal files. With good reason, civil libertarians fear these databases could “someday be used for monitoring political rallies, sporting events or even busy downtown areas.”
As these police practices and data collections become more widespread and routine, there will be no one who is spared from the indignity of DNA sampling, blood draws, and roadside strip and/or rectal or vaginal searches, whether or not they’ve done anything wrong. We’re little more than economic units, branded like cattle, marked for easy identification, and then assured that it’s all for our “benefit,” to weed us out from the “real” criminals, and help the police keep our communities “safe” and secure.
What a bunch of hokum. As I point out in my book A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State, these databases, forced extractions and searches are not for our benefit. They will not keep us safe. What they will do is keep us mapped, trapped, targeted and controlled.
Moreover, what if you don’t want to be forced to trust the government with your most intimate information? What if you don’t trust the government to look out for your best interests in the first place? How do you protect yourself against having your blood forcibly drawn, your DNA extracted, your biometrics scanned and the most intimate details of who you are—your biological footprint—uploaded into a government database?
What recourse do you have when that information, taken against your will, is shared, stolen, sold or compromised, as it inevitably will be in this age of hackers? We know that databases can be compromised. We’ve seen it happen to databases kept by health care companies, motor vehicle agencies, financial institutions, retailers and intelligence agencies such as the NSA. In fact, 2014 was dubbed the Year of the Hack in light of the fact that over a billion personal data records were breached, leaving those unlucky enough to have their data stolen vulnerable to identity theft, credit card fraud and all manner of criminal activities carried out in their names.
Banks now offer services —for a fee—to help you in the event that your credit card information is compromised and stolen. You can also pay for services to protect against identity theft in the likely event that your social security information is compromised and misused. But what happens when your DNA profile is compromised? And how do you defend yourself against charges of criminal wrongdoing in the face of erroneous technological evidence—DNA, biometrics, etc., are not infallible—that place you at the scene of a crime you didn’t commit?
“Identity theft could lead to the opening of new fraudulent credit accounts, creating false identities for criminal enterprises, or a host of other serious crimes,” said Jason Hart, vice president of cloud services, identity and data protection at the digital security company Gemalto. “As data breaches become more personal, we’re starting to see that the universe of risk exposure for the average person is expanding.”
It’s not just yourself you have to worry about, either. It’s also anyone related to you—who can be connected by DNA. These genetic fingerprints, as they’re called, do more than just single out a person. They also show who you’re related to and how. As the Associated Press reports, “DNA samples that can help solve robberies and murders could also, in theory, be used to track down our relatives, scan us for susceptibility to disease, or monitor our movements.”
Capitalizing on this, police in California, Colorado, Virginia and Texas use DNA found at crime scenes to identify and target family members for possible clues to a suspect’s whereabouts. Who will protect your family from being singled out for “special treatment” simply because they’re related to you? As biomedical researcher Yaniv Erlich warns, “If it’s not regulated and the police can do whatever they want … they can use your DNA to infer things about your health, your ancestry, whether your kids are your kids.”
These are just a few of the questions we should be asking before these technologies and programs become too entrenched and irreversible.
While the Fourth Amendment was created to prevent government officials from searching an individual’s person or property without a warrant and probable cause—evidence that some kind of criminal activity was afoot—the founders could scarcely have imagined a world in which we needed protection against widespread government breaches of our privacy on a cellular level. Yet that’s exactly what we are lacking.
Once again, technology has outdistanced both our understanding of it and our ability to adequately manage the consequences of unleashing it on an unsuspecting populace. As for all of those databases being sold to you for your safety and benefit, whether or not they’re actually effective in catching criminals, you can be assured that they will definitely be snatching up innocent citizens, as well.
In the end, what all of this amounts to is a carefully crafted campaign designed to give the government access to and control over what it really wants: you.

FedEx won’t ship the box that makes homemade metal semi-automatic rifles

Law & Disorder / Civilization & Discontents

FedEx won’t ship the box that makes homemade metal semi-automatic rifles

"I'll have to smuggle the damn thing out of my own city," Cody Wilson tells Ars.

Defense Distributed, the group that pioneered 3D printed firearms in 2013, informed its customers on Tuesday that FedEx has refused to ship the company’s latest product, a computer-numerically-controlled (CNC) mill—dubbed the "Ghost Gunner." “I've got an account with another courier, but FedEx is bewildering because the reason I started with them in the first place was their [National Rifle Association] advantage program,” the company’s founder, Cody Wilson, told Ars by text message.
FedEx did not immediately respond to Ars’ request for comment, but spokesman Scott Fiedler told Wired on Tuesday:
This device is capable of manufacturing firearms, and potentially by private individuals. We are uncertain at this time whether this device is a regulated commodity by local, state or federal governments. As such, to ensure we comply with the applicable law and regulations, FedEx declined to ship this device until we know more about how it will be regulated.
The United States Postal Service, UPS, and DHL did not immediately respond to Ars' request for comment.
However, unfinished lower receivers for AR-15 semi-automatic rifles are routinely shipped nationwide, as are CNC mills.
The AR-15, the civilian version of the M-16 military assault rifle, is designed to be modular, meaning it can be assembled from different receivers, barrels, buttstocks, and other components, each with its own characteristics.
Under American federal law, the lower receiver part of a firearm is the crucial part that contains all of the gun's operating parts, including the trigger group and the magazine port. (In short, the lower is what's defined as the firearm itself.) The Ghost Gunner is designed to take an unfinished receiver (sometimes dubbed an “80 percent” lower) and finish the job.
As a result, Wilson added, FedEx will almost certainly lose his business.
“The thing is I bet UPS will blackball me as well and I'll have to smuggle the damn thing out of my own city,” he wrote, adding that to date he has sold “around 1,200” of the devices, and that he “can’t keep up with demand.”
Even at the introductory price of $1,200 (which has since been raised to $1,500), that would mean that Defense Distributed has taken in over $800,000 in revenue in just a few months. (Not all of the sold mills have been fully paid beyond an initial deposit.) The site reports the Ghost Gunner is backordered until Q2 2015.

“I will find another way”

As Ars reported previously, the Ghost Gunner, which first debuted in October 2014, can complete an unfinished lower receiver for an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle in around an hour. While designed to mill an AR-15 lower, the CNC could theoretically mill anything of a similar size. Now, the total cost of a semi-finished lower, a parts kit, an upper, a magazine, and the Ghost Gunner ($1,500) is around $2,300—not a significant savings over buying the whole thing lock, stock, and barrel. However, many hobbyists are excited at the opportunity, particularly given the fact that it makes such weapons effectively anonymous and untraceable.
The Ghost Gunner makes home gunsmithing faster, cheaper, and more portable than ever before.
In the Tuesday e-mail to supporters, Wilson elaborated:
Now FedEx has told me that they will NOT ship my product at all, and though they will not give me a reason in writing, they have told that it is because my machine allows an individual to make a gun.
I will find another way to ship the machine. I emailed today because I feel you should know that FedEx is uncomfortable with the constitutionally protected right to make a rifle free from government surveillance. They may cater to the firearms industry, but they have a specific antipathy to the non-commercial acquisition of firearms.

When is a gun not a gun?

With a semi-finished lower, a parts kit, an upper, and a magazine, Wilson previously told Ars that anyone can hook up the mill to their computer and have a gun ready to fire in a short period of time. "Our gold standard is: you’re going to finish it in an hour," he said.
The United States Gun Control Act (GCA) of 1968 allows anyone to manufacture their own firearm without a license, but manufacturing such weaponry for sale or transfer does require a federal license.
As a way to get around that law, manufacturers can make a product that isn’t technically a gun, but gets as close to the line as possible. The Ghost Gunner CNC mill requires that the buyer provide their own semi-finished lower, which is sometimes dubbed an "80 percent lower."
"The term 80 percent receiver comes from the seller, that’s not a term that we use," a spokesman from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) told Ars last year.
"That’s a term from the seller or creator of the device that it’s 80 percent of a finished receiver, therefore it is legal. That’s not a determination we make."
In short, in the ATF’s view, either something is a firearm or it isn’t—and if it isn’t, it can be sold without restriction.
But in January 2015, the agency released ATF Rule 2015-1 and clarified that a gunsmith or machine shop cannot use its tool to refine an 80 percent to make it a suitable firearm, but the ruling does not affect CNCs owned by individuals.
"Nothing in this ruling affects the ability of individuals to make their own firearms for personal use, as allowed by law," Ginger Colbrun, an ATF spokeswoman, told Ars by e-mail on Tuesday

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Republicans propose declaring Idaho a 'Christian state'

By Laura Zuckerman
SALMON, Idaho (Reuters) - Members of a county Republican Party in Idaho are to take up a measure on Tuesday evening that would declare the state a Christian one to bolster what the proposal calls the "Judeo-Christian bedrock of the founding of the United States."
The resolution to be voted on by the Kootenai County Republican Central Committee is non-binding, meaning it does not have the effect of laws or rules.
The proposal seeks that Idaho be "formally and specifically declared a Christian state," guided by a Judeo-Christian faith reflected in the U.S. Declaration of Independence where all authority and power is attributed to God, the resolution reads.
The measure argues that the Christian faith is under "strident attack" in the United States, and cites as evidence the absence of Christian traditions and symbols in public institutions such as schools.
The issue has sparked debate within the Republican stronghold of northern Idaho, once known for harboring leaders of the so-called Christian identity or white supremacist movement such as the late Aryan Nations founder Richard Butler.
Supporters say the measure echoes the Christian principles espoused by early U.S. presidents such as Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, and that it has added significance at a time when Christians are subject to persecution in countries such as Syria where it is not the dominant religion.
"We're a Christian community in a Christian state and the Republican Party is a Christian Party," said Jeff Tyler, a member of the committee and backer of the draft resolution.
"It's important that Christians stand up and be unashamed to say they're Christians."
Other committee members said they opposed the proposal, but that it placed them in a difficult position because if they voted against it they risked being unjustly labeled as anti-Christian.
Bjorn Handeen, a committee member who described himself as a Republican with libertarian leanings, said he is opposed to any document that puts the government in charge of defining Christianity.
He said the resolution was pushed by a small group within the committee that is bent on creating division among its about 70 members.
"Ultimately, I'm not in favor of dividing us by religion; I'm in favor of uniting us by freedom," Handeen said.
If approved, the resolution would be submitted to the state Republican Party for a vote by its members.
Idaho has long been a Republican bastion, with party members holding the majority of state offices.
(Reporting by Laura Zuckerman; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Mohammad Zargham)

Chicago police are running a horrifying CIA-style black site out of a warehouse

A remarkable report from Spencer Ackerman at The Guardian has revealed in detail the existence of an interrogation facility used by Chicago police to detain and hold people in secret. The report describes how police have used a "nondescript warehouse" to keep detainees out of booking databases, beat prisoners, shackle them for "prolonged periods," and keep them from legal counsel for up to 24 hours — including even children as young as 15.
If that sounds familiar, it's because the US has used similar facilities around the world since 9/11 in its prosecution of the "war on terror." CIA "black sites" around the world have been used to secretly detain, interrogate, and torture alleged enemies of state. Use of these sites for "extraordinary rendition" is one of the darkest aspects of the US war on terror, and has been the target of criticism from a broad spectrum of observers.
America has entered a period of constitutional horror
Unlike the CIA's black sites, The Guardian reports that the Chicago facility targets people who aren't suspected of terror-related activities; the site is reportedly shared by anti-gang and anti-drug police units.
In one instance, The Guardian reports, 12 people who were protesting a Nato summit in 2012 were taken to the warehouse. One man, Jacob Church, says he was cuffed to a bench for around 17 hours and interrogated without receiving Miranda rights. "Essentially, I wasn't allowed to make contact with anybody," Church told The Guardian. "I had essentially figured, 'all right, well, they disappeared us and so we're probably never going to see the light of day again.'" An attorney who eventually gained access to the facility reportedly had to talk to Church through a "floor-to-ceiling chain-link metal cage." But most attorneys, The Guardian notes, have been completely turned away from the site.
One detainee, John Hubbard, died in the facility, The Guardian reports. At the time, The Chicago Tribune unceremoniously reported the event under the headline "man in custody found unresponsive, dies."
"That scares the hell out of me."
The Guardian's report lands in the wake of a national conversation that began last year about police militarization in the US. Last August, the world witnessed a shocking display of force against residents of Ferguson, Missouri, who assembled to protest the killing of an unarmed teenager. Police in military battle dress rolled armored vehicles with sonic weapons down suburban streets, pointed sniper rifles at peaceful protesters, assaulted and harassed journalists, and unilaterally heightened tensions for dubious reasons. Police militarization and brutality have, of course, been an issue before Ferguson — just ask the participants of Occupy Wall Street.
As The Guardian's report demonstrates, it's not just weapons from the war on terror that are flowing to police departments across the country: it's tactics and attitudes, too. "I've never known of any kind of organized, secret place where they go and just hold somebody before booking for hours and hours and hours," retired DC homicide detective James Trainum told The Guardian. "That scares the hell out of me that that even exists or might exist."

Cleveland police chief's brother shot dead, girlfriend suspected, feds say

CLEVELAND - A U.S. marshal says the brother of Cleveland's police chief has been shot to death and the girlfriend suspected of killing him has committed suicide in western Pennsylvania.
The brother of Cleveland's police chief was found dead in this house on the city's east side on Tuesday, Feb. 24, 2015
CBS affiliate WOIO
Police responding to a call found 34-year-old William D. Williams dead at a home on Cleveland's east side early Tuesday.U.S. Marshal Pete Elliott says a homicide warrant was issued for Williams' girlfriend, 36-year-old Dana Johnson. According to CBS Pittsburgh, she was found dead in her car along Interstate 376 in Beaver County, Pa.
Elliott says Pennsylvania troopers pulled her over a few miles across the state line, and she shot herself.
Elliott says he believes Johnson was alone in the vehicle. He says authorities suspect Johnson had been headed to Maryland, where she has relatives.
Cleveland police confirmed Williams is the brother of Chief Calvin Williams. They didn't immediately release further details about that shooting.

CIA looks to expand its cyber espionage capabilities

February 23 at 1:09 PM
CIA Director John Brennan is planning a major expansion of the agency’s cyber-espionage capabilities as part of a broad restructuring of an intelligence service long defined by its human spy work, current and former U.S. officials said.
The proposed shift reflects a determination that the CIA’s approach to conventional espionage is increasingly outmoded amid the exploding use of smartphones, social media and other technologies.
U.S. officials said Brennan’s plans call for increased use of cyber capabilities in almost every category of operations — whether identifying foreign officials to recruit as CIA informants, confirming the identities of targets of drone strikes or penetrating Internet-savvy adversaries such as the Islamic State.
Several officials said Brennan’s team has even considered creating a new cyber-directorate — a step that would put the agency’s technology experts on equal footing with the operations and analysis branches, which have been pillars of the CIA’s organizational structure for decades.
U.S. officials emphasized that the plans would not involve new legal authorities and that Brennan may stop short of creating a new directorate. But the suggestion underscores the scope of his ambitions, as well as their potential to raise privacy concerns or lead to turf skirmishes with the National Security Agency, the dominant player in electronic espionage.
“Brennan is trying to update the agency to make sure it is prepared to tackle the challenges in front of it,” said a U.S. official familiar with the reorganization plan. “I just don’t think you can separate the digital world people operate in from the human intelligence” mission that is the CIA’s traditional domain.
Like others, the official spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal decision-making.
The expanded emphasis on cyber is part of a broader restructuring envisioned by Brennan that is expected to break down long-standing boundaries between the CIA’s operations and analysis directorates, creating hybrid “centers” that combine those and other disciplines.
Brennan is expected to begin implementing aspects of his plan this month, officials said. He recently met with senior members of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees to outline the proposed changes.
CIA spokesman Dean Boyd declined to comment, saying that “final decisions have not yet been made with respect to agency reorganization efforts.” In a notice to the CIA workforce last year, Brennan said that he had become “increasingly convinced that the time has come to take a fresh look at how we are organized.”
The changes are designed to replicate the model of the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center, which has surged in size and influence since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. The restructuring could lead to new reporting lines for thousands of CIA employees, as long-standing units such the Latin America and Near East divisions give way to new centers that combine analysis, collection and covert operations.
The National Clandestine Service and the Directorate of Intelligence — the formal names for the operations and analysis branches — would continue to exist, but would focus more on developing talent and resources that could be distributed to the new centers.
“It would be a huge deal,” said Michael Allen, a former White House and congressional aide who wrote a 2013 book about intelligence reform. Unlike at the FBI and other security agencies, Allen said, “there hasn’t been wholesale structural reform in the CIA post-9/11.”
Former officials who are familiar with the plan said it has caused generational friction within the CIA’s ranks, with longtime officers resisting changes that younger employees are more eager to embrace.
The head of the clandestine service recently resigned, in part over objections to the scope of Brennan’s plan, officials said. Brennan quickly replaced him with a longtime officer who had led an internal review panel that broadly endorsed the director’s reform agenda.
Although limited compared with the larger NSA, the CIA has substantial cyber capabilities. Its Information Operations Center, which handles assignments such as extracting information from stolen laptops and planting surveillance devices, is now second only to the Counterterrorism Center in size, former officials said.

The CIA also oversees the Open Source Center, an intelligence unit created in 2005 to scour publicly available data, including Twitter feeds, Facebook postings and Web forums where al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups post material.
Brennan hopes to make the use of such capabilities more pervasive, U.S. officials said, ensuring that expertise and tools that now reside in the Information Operations Center are distributed across the agency.
The move comes at a time when the CIA has struggled to gain traction against adversaries — including the Islamic State and the Jabhat al-Nusra terrorist group — that recruit and communicate extensively online but operate in combat zones that CIA officers are generally not able to enter.
But officials said digital changes have transformed even the most conventional cloak-and-dagger scenarios. Secrets that were once obtained by recruiting a source or meeting in a safe house increasingly reside in clouds of digital transmissions that surround espionage targets.
To recruit a Russian spy, “you may need to manipulate someone’s e-mail, read someone’s e-mail and track the whereabouts of the FSB,” a former official said, referring to the Russian security service. “Cyber is now part of every mission. It’s not a specialized, boutique thing.”
Beyond elevating the role of the Information Operations Center, U.S. officials said, Brennan is seeking to ensure that the agency is not lagging in other areas, such as counterintelligence work and the CIA’s internal e-mail system.
Brennan provided only broad outlines of his plan in recent congressional meetings, which excluded all but the four highest-ranking members of the House and Senate intelligence panels. A senior U.S. intelligence official said some senior NSA executives remain in the dark on Brennan’s cyber ambitions.
In recent years, the CIA has collaborated extensively with the NSA on a range of covert programs, including its drone campaign against al-Qaeda. Documents released by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden showed that e-mails and cellphone signals intercepted by the NSA were used to confirm the identities of targets in strikes.

Read the rest @

Oregon Democrat confirms amnesty danger to gun rights

Calling it the “civil rights battle” for millennials that will decide who controls the the country for the next three decades, Democrat Rep. Kurt Schrader of Oregon says immigration “will decide who is in charge of this country for the next 20 or 30 years,” the Portland Tribune reported Monday. Schraeder’s observation highlights a contention made by Gun Owners of America that amnesty is a threat to the right to keep and bear arms. That position has so far been avoided by other national gun rights groups which refuse to acknowledge the issue, or to score political ratings and endorsements accordingly.
That avoidance is in spite of the fact that Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson has stated illegal aliens have “earned the right to be citizens. It’s in spite of all credible polling showing the foreigners to be overwhelmingly Democrat and anti-gun in their sympathies.
It’s also in spite of almost daily revelations corroborating the increasing danger, and not just from the "illegal" side of the equation. Just within the past day, we've learned that Muslim immigration is outpacing that from Mexico and Central America, that 40 percent of New Yorkers are now foreign-born and half the residents of New York City speak a language other than English at home. We've also seen that the Border Patrol has been ordered to curtail deportations. Both legal and illegal immigration are being exploited by cheap labor Republicans and “earned citizenship” Democrats, both counting on the directed “cultural terraforming” to advance globalist interests and “fundamentally transform” the country.
Some gun rights advocates still offer excuses for NRA and other groups ignoring this, saying it’s not part of the “single issue.” How they arrive at that conclusion, ignoring the ultimate change in the electorate by adding millions of anti-gun voters to the rolls in coming years, is never explained, especially in light of how a "pathway to citizenship" will reverse legislative gains and assure judicial appointments are confirmed by the anti-gun majority that will result. It also contradicts NRA head Wayne LaPierre, who declared “all freedoms are connected,” but then clammed up on threats to freedom being connected, too.
Besides, in addition to that “single issue,” NRA’s bylaws, which are not optional, require directors and paid staff to “protect and defend the Constitution of the United States [and] promote public safety, law and order, and the national defense.” And we've seen NRA weigh in before on "tangential" issues, such as when it quite properly joined with ACLU in opposing so called “campaign finance reform” due to intolerable restrictions on the FIRST Amendment and the negative impact that would have on elections.
Gun rights leaders -- and that includes bloggers -- continue to ignore this issue at the peril of those who hold them in that regard. Gun owners continue to let them get away with that at their own peril. And Democrats, from Kurt Schrader of Oregon, all the way up to Barack Obama, as well as the establishment GOP and moneyed interests buying influence in both parties, are counting on the continued denial.

I-594 groups seek to fight suit by gun-rights backers

The coalition that sponsored last fall’s successful gun-purchase background-check initiative wants to intervene in a lawsuit trying to overturn the state law.

Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson on Monday applauded an attempt by a coalition of gun-regulation groups to intervene against a lawsuit seeking to roll back the new law expanding background checks on gun buyers.
A lawsuit filed in December by gun-rights supporters alleges Initiative 594 violates the Second Amendment and can inadvertently criminalize people because its language is too vague. Ferguson, along with the state Attorney General’s Office and Washington State Patrol Chief John Batiste, are currently named as defendants.
On Monday, the Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility, I-594 citizen sponsor Cheryl Stumbo and the local arm of former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Everytown for Gun Safety filed to join the defendants in the lawsuit.
“It’s my role to defend initiatives lawfully passed by the people of Washington state, and my office will do so vigorously,” Ferguson wrote in an email. “We welcome the participation of the backers of the initiative in the process.”

The move, which a judge must first approve, would allow the groups to file motions and offer a full defense of a law they campaigned hard to enact.
Approved by 59 percent of voters last November, Initiative 594 expanded background checks on gun buyers beyond the federal standard to private sales like some found online or at gun shows.
But the lawsuit lays out concerns by firearms-training groups, private security guards and inspectors, and others. Among the plaintiffs are the Northwest School of Safety; Puget Sound Security Inc.; Firearms Academy of Seattle; the Bellevue-based Second Amendment Foundation; and Alan Gottlieb, the foundation’s executive vice president.
In quick succession Monday morning, Gottlieb ticked off two reasons for gun-rights supporters to take heart with the new developments.
“I think the other side has now realized that our challenge has some very good merit to it,” he said. “The second thing is I think it shows a vote of ‘no confidence’ in the Attorney General’s Office in being able to defend.”
It is common for groups that have pushed initiatives to later become involved in the related lawsuits, according to Hugh Spitzer, acting professor of law at the University of Washington’s School of Law.
In this case, “it enables the proponents to supplement the arguments that the attorney general makes,” said Spitzer.
The development comes as gun-rights supporters have ricocheted between rallies and hearings at the Legislature, trying to find support to change or repeal I-594, or send it back to voters in a referendum.
But those bills appear to have died in the Democrat-controlled House. And a January rally at the Capitol against I-594 succeeded only in the banning of guns in the Legislature’s viewing galleries after armed demonstrators entered those areas.
Stumbo, I-594’s citizen sponsor and a survivor of the 2006 Jewish Federation shootings in Seattle, described the lawsuit as a frivolous action brought by the gun lobby.
“The same individuals who failed to weaken our state’s gun laws in last year’s election are now using the court system to do exactly that,” Stumbo said in prepared remarks.