April 30, 2015

The Pope Versus Climate Skeptics

A New York Times/CBS News poll in September, conducted shortly before the pope’s first visit to the United States, found that only 29 percent of Republicans had a favorable opinion of Pope Francis, compared with 47 percent of Democrats and 46 percent of independents.Asked about the direction in which Francis is leading the church, 41 percent of Republicans offered approval, again a smaller proportion compared with Democrats and independents. [Source]

The Pope vs. Climate Deniers

The Maddow Blog - In late 2014, Pope Francis said he intended to invest considerable energy in 2015 urging Catholics around the globe to help combat climate change. He wasn’t kidding.

The pope, joined by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, hosted a summit on the issue on April 28, 2015, and the name of the gathering was itself intended to get attention: “Protect the Earth, Dignify Humanity: The Moral Dimensions of Climate Change and Sustainable Development.” The event organized panels on relevant “scientific, moral and economic issues” surrounding global warming.

All of this is designed to coincide with ongoing international talks, but also the summer release of Francis’ encyclical on the climate crisis. The New York Times reported yesterday that the pope’s activism is “alarming some conservatives in the United States who are loath to see the Catholic Church reposition itself as a mighty voice in a cause they do not believe in.”
In the United States, the encyclical will be accompanied by a 12-week campaign, now being prepared with the participation of some Catholic bishops, to raise the issue of climate change and environmental stewardship in sermons, homilies, news media interviews and letters to newspaper editors, said Dan Misleh, executive director of the Catholic Climate Covenant in Washington.
But the effort is already angering a number of American conservatives, among them members of the Heartland Institute, a libertarian group partly funded by the Charles G. Koch Foundation, run by the billionaire industrialist Koch brothers, who oppose climate policy.
While Koch-financed operations usually aren’t shy about taking the offensive against perceived opponents, the far-right Heartland Institute seems to realize attacking the pope is a little more complicated.

In a statement, the group’s president said he fears the “Holy Father is being misled,” despite Francis’ heart being “in the right place.”

Yes, the politics of climate denial are getting a little tricky. In a few months, this will get a little more complicated.

Baltimore 'Official' Says by Depriving an Entire Race of Civil Rights, We Have Paved a Permissible Path for All Future Brutalities, Including Those Inflicted by Public Servants Paid to Protect Us All

Baltimore Officials Clarify That Civil Rights Laws Don't Actually Apply to Black People


Huffington Post - Following a night of riots beginning in the Mondawmin neighborhood and stretching to Baltimore's Oriole Park at Camden Yards, city officials today, flanked by members of the National Guard, came out and openly admitted that laws protecting civil rights don't apply to black people.
"Look," the official said, "we've clearly marginalized this group of people for decades, so my announcement that we're excluding black citizens from the protections guaranteed by civil rights laws should come as no surprise to anyone here. I'm just making it official."
When confronted with the accusation that black Americans have been unfair targets of excessive police brutality, the official demonstrated his command of logic by stating:
"The riots in Baltimore are a byproduct of income inequality--a phenomenon observed along racial lines--and income inequality is a byproduct of capitalism, and capitalism is the foundation of our great democracy. So, we can conclude that excessive police brutality against black Americans is a pillar of our country's democratic principles."
The official agreed that violent riots--such as those sparked by the death of Freddie Gray, while in police custody--are not a solution to the problem of widespread civil rights violations, but that:
"Police brutality is, in fact, perfectly legal, in light of what I've laid out here today. By formally announcing the exclusion of an entire race from the protections afforded by civil rights laws, we have paved a clear, permissible path for all future brutalities, including those inflicted by public servants paid to protect us all. Not that legality or the concept of respectful treatment of our fellow humans were ever effective deterrents to police brutality before. This just keeps it all above-board." 
The official continued: 
"Speaking of infringing on rights," "these riots are infringing on my right to enjoy an Orioles game."

April 28, 2015

Operation Jade Helm - Acclimating Soldiers and Citizens to Martial Law

The Internet is abuzz with speculation that these exercises are not designed to prepare U.S. troops for overseas operations but are actually designed to prepare U.S. troops for aggressive operations against the American citizenry.

When the police shut down Boston looking for the bomber, no one said a word. Dads, moms, children, grandparents were perp-walked out of their houses with no warrants and were detained without access to lawyers. The media recorded it and broadcast it, and people sat home and cheered.

With Homeland Security and the Patriot Act, the government or police will not need a warrant or probable cause. Very few Americans know what is in both these acts that were passed. I know because I have read the things that can be done when the time arrives. First they ram the door down and grab you or anyone else in the house out, and you will probably not be seen or heard of again. It is much later than we think, and it is being planed. That is why there is are tw billion rounds of 9mm hollow point ammo stored inside this country now, so get ready because you will not be able to stop it when it starts. You can put up a fight but we are all going to end up chained or shot. Welcome to the New World Order. - D.E.W.

You will wake up and it will be at the front door, just like when Germany rolled into town. Even if there are guns, it will be too late to win the battle. With food running out, your neighbor will sell you out for a warm meal and to protect his family. You will be the enemy of the state. The American people cant even put up a force like the ALAMO because those days are gone. You won't have enough food or water or ammo to out last a strong government moving on the rights of the American people. A house can be leveled today in about 25 seconds form the air, and a town can be leveled in 15 minutes. And in 1 hour the USA can be no more. Here is a question for you. Why do you think two billion rounds of hollow-point bullets are being stored by Homeland Security? An invasion or to stop the American people when the clamps are put down and we don't like it. Remember the enemy is in our country waiting for the word to strike in every state. - D.E.W. 

Operation Jade Helm: Should We Be Worried?

April 2, 2015    

Chuck Baldwin - For two months this summer, the U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) will conduct Realistic Military Training (RMT) Operation Jade Helm 15 (JH 15) in seven Southwestern U.S. states: California, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas. Military spokesmen say the operation is merely a standard training exercise designed to prepare Special Forces troops for warfare overseas.

The London Daily Mail reported that Army spokesman Lt. Col. Mark Lastoria said,
“This exercise is routine training to maintain a high level of readiness for Army Special Operations Forces because they must be ready to support potential missions anywhere in the world on a moment's notice.”
Units participating in the operation include Army Green Berets, Navy SEALS, USAF Special Operations Command, USMC Special Operations Command, USMC Expeditionary Units, Army 82nd Airborne Division, and Interagency Partners (whatever and whoever that is).

Over 1,200 troops will participate. For purposes of the exercise, the states of Utah and Texas, and parts of southern California, are designated as “hostile.” Local mayors and county commissions have been notified of the operation and have already signed off on it.

To be sure, the U.S. military often conducts off-base exercises; there is nothing new about that. However, this operation might be the largest off-base training exercise on the U.S. mainland. It is certainly one of the most aggressive.

In this exercise, Special Forces troops will practice all sorts of activities including extractions, searches and seizures, urban camouflage, etc. According to the Houston Chronicle:
“Among the planned exercises, soldiers will attempt to operate undetected among civilian populations.Residents, in turn, will be asked to report suspicious activity in order to gauge the effectiveness of the soldiers.”
According to USSOCOM, the exercises will only be conducted between 11pm and 4am. Pray tell, how difficult will it be for Special Forces troops (the best of the best) to operate undetected and “blend in” during the middle of the night? That part of the military’s description makes no sense to me at all.

We already have millions of taxpayer dollars being spent on mass media advertising that tells people, “If you see something, say something.” Now we are going to “practice” reporting “suspicious activity”? Believe it or not, there was a time in this country when such an idea would have been considered abhorrent by the American people as resembling Nazi Germany or Red Russia too much. Then again, most of our World War II generation has passed, hasn’t it?

April 27, 2015

Maryland Governor Hogan Declares State of Emergency and Deploys National Guard in Streets of Baltimore

The cops were ordered to let this riot play out. They even let them burn a few police vehicles just to add to the spectacle. It was purposely allowed to make the situation look bad enough to bring in the National Guard. That is what they want as an excuse for Martial Law and to further militarize the police.

Republican Gov. Hogan Declares State Of Emergency, Activates National Guard

April 27, 2015

CBS – Governor Larry Hogan has declared a state of emergency and activated the National Guard to address the growing violence and unrest in Baltimore City.
“I have not made this decision lightly. The National Guard represents a last resort in order to restore order,” Hogan said during a news conference Monday night. “People have the right to protest and express their frustration, but Baltimore City families deserve peace and safety in their communities and these acts of violence and destruction of property cannot and will not be tolerated.”
Hogan said he executed the request 30 seconds after it was made by Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.
“When the mayor called me, which quite frankly we were glad that she finally did, we signed the executive order,” he said. “It’s obviously very disappointing to us as Marylanders and people who love the city of Baltimore. What started out as a peaceful protest … I would say 95 percent of the people involved were conducting themselves in a very peaceful manner, it was well under control. We had a lot of outside agitators come in from around the country, and we had some rogue gangs and young people that were just out looking to cause problems.”
Major General Linda Singh, the adjutant general of the Maryland Army National Guard, said during the news conference that the guard would be out in activation beginning Monday night. Up to 5,000 troops were available to patrol the streets and protect property.

Hogan said he spoke to President Obama at length about the violence.
“He supports our actions 100 percent. We talked about the fact that we’ve gotta find — everybody believes we need to get to the answers and resolve this situation, the concern that everybody has about what exactly happened in the Freddie Gray incident. That’s one whole situation. This is an entirely different situation. This is lawless gangs of thugs roaming the streets, causing damage to property and injuring innocent people, and we’re not gonna tolerate that,” he said.
Earlier today, a group of protestors clashed with police officers. Arrests were made in the incident, but unfortunately, some officers were hurt.
“My thoughts and prayers go out to the men and women in uniform who are actively working to stem this violence and several who been injured in the line of duty,” Hogan said in an earlier statement. “These malicious attacks against law enforcement and local communities only betray the cause of peaceful citizens seeking answers and justice following the death of Freddie Gray.”

Question: How do you bypass the 1878 Posse Comitatus Act limiting the military's involvement in law enforcement?

Answer: You militarize law enforcement.

Baltimore is One Step Away From Martial Law Because of a Few Out-of-Towners Who Are Destroying Property

Hours before the riots began Monday, mourners filled the 2,500-capacity New Shiloh Baptist church to attend Freddie Gray's funeral. Gray was arrested by Baltimore Police on April 12 after making eye contact with officers and then running away, police said. He was held down, handcuffed and loaded into a van without a seat belt. Leg cuffs were put on him when he became irate inside. He asked for medical help several times even before being put in the van, but paramedics were not called until after a 30-minute ride. Police have acknowledged he should have received medical attention on the spot where he was arrested, but they have not said how he suffered a serious spine injury. He died April 19. His death has been ruled a homicide and six officers have been charged in the case.

Curfew In Baltimore For Adults And Children: 15 Police Officers Injured, 2 Hospitalized After Bricks, Bottles Thrown

Baltimore police tweeted throughout the day and asked parents earlier in the evening to find and bring home their children, many of whom collectively initiated the chaos as part of a "purge."

April 27, 2015

Inquistr - Along with a state of emergency being issued in Baltimore amid widespread looting, as reported by the Inquisitr, a new curfew has been issued. As reported by WFSB, Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake has announced a curfew that will last from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. — with those aged 14 years and younger urged to stay in under the curfew starting on Monday, and the curfew to also extend to adults on Tuesday beginning from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. There is already a curfew in place for children 13 years of age and under, the mayor reiterated

As soon as the press conference announcement about the curfew was made, the word curfew began to receive a ton of reactions on social media, with folks wondering if the citywide imposed curfew would help to stem the violence and looting.
“What we see tonight going on in our city is very disturbing. We are deploying every resource possible to gain control of this situation and to ensure peace moving forward.”
As reported by CNN, 15 police officers have been injured in the rioting from some sort of flying debris, be it bricks or bottles. Mayor Rawlings-Blake said that Baltimore is not a lawless city and thugs will not prevail, because authorities will use all of the photos and video footage to determine who is responsible for the looting and violence waged against the police officers, and those individuals will be held accountable.
“Anyone who wants to add to peace to our city is welcome, if Rev. Sharpton wants to come… anyone who wants to act within the law.”

April 25, 2015

The Federal Government's Crimes Against the People

10 Indications That the United States is a Dictatorship

America can no longer be called a Land of the Free ruled by We the People.

May 16, 2011

Activist Post - For a people to be free, they must first be honest with themselves, their government, and the world at large. History is filled with stories of free nations that fell under the spell cast by their governments who exploited the threat of terror. In fact, numerous presidents in American history already have used various specific threats to sidestep their Constitutional restraints.

Today we are entering a nebulous world where our “enemy” cannot be defined, has no particular allegiance to one country, and is able to adopt new leaders at will.

Rather than encourage a sense of resilience and independence in its citizens, America has chosen to amplify the terror threat in order to concentrate power in the hands of the State. The very first signpost on this historically familiar road to tyranny is an atmosphere of hate, suspicion, and vindictiveness. It first begins as an outwardly directed aggression and then rather abruptly turns inward upon itself.

The good news is that freedom is won and lost in the hearts and minds of men. It is for this reason that we must state the obvious: we have clearly passed through the first “atmospheric” stage of approaching dictatorship, and have now entered the second — the open behavior of a dictatorship in the United States.

It will never be announced on the evening news, and it is not likely to continue under an authoritarian leader in the mold of a Stalin, Hitler, or Mao. Likewise, it is not to say that Barack Obama is the first dictator of The United States, but rather is part of a continued expansion of executive power that is now so great that by all measures America can no longer be called a Land of the Free ruled by We the People. We stand no chance of reversing this forced march by false democracy until we understand where we are headed, who is leading us there, and for what purpose.
  1. Rule by force, not by law

    This is where it all begins; when the legal framework that serves to define a country and its behavior is dismantled and intimidation tactics take over. In the most extreme case, drone bombings and assassinations have begun of non-citizens, as well as U.S. citizens, leading only to a debate over whether U.S. citizens should be stripped of citizenship before assassination.

    Governmental assassinations are in complete opposition to the laws of America and all international laws and agreements. In the last week we have also seen the official elimination of the 4th Amendment in Indiana, which is a clear precedent-setting ruling to say that the State now believes that it owns the property and person of its citizens. As a result, the militarized police have been granted unlimited access, which will only cause an escalation in cases of police brutality and misconduct.

    This is yet another addition to the precedent set by TSA groping and sexual harassment in airports, Child Protective Services kidnapping children of activists in pro-liberty causes, public school surveillance, and the lawless detention of activists who videotape the police.

    All areas of society are now ruled top-down through state legislation adopted to justify federal grants that have installed a police state apparatus in America. And these federal agencies such as the TSA actually believe they rule supreme over the states.

    We now live in a country where CIA abductions, overseas detention, torture and assassinations can be carried out against Americans without due process and without recourse if later cleared. Consequently, an atmosphere has been created where the government is permitted to break countless laws, like warrantless GPS tracking of activists by the FBI, while average citizens are guilty of pre-crimes.

    The increase in executive power under the aegis of National Security is our greatest threat and has led to all that follows.

  2. Crushing peaceful protest

April 23, 2015

Before He Was Murdered by Law Enforcement Employees, Boston Marathon Bombing Muslim Patsy, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, Shouted, "We Didn't Do It," and His Brother, U.S. Citizen Dzhokhar, While Hiding in a Boat from the Government Manhunt, Wrote: "US Government is Killing Our Innocent Civilians"

After the bombings, the FBI stated that both of the marathon pressure-cooker bombs (two 6-quart, Fagor Elites, sold at Macy's) were in black vinyl backpacks. Dzhokhar's backpack was white, and Tamerlan's was dark gray with light gray trim.

Remarkably, the FBI, the attorneys for both sides, prosecution witnesses, and the press continue to ignore the fact that the backpack Dzhokhar carried at the marathon was white. This is all you need to prove that the Tsarnaevs were setup.

April 21, 2015

This is What a Police State Looks Like in America

Published on April 20, 2013

WATERTOWN, MA - On Friday, April 19, 2013, during a manhunt for a bombing suspect, police and federal agents spent the day storming people's homes and performing illegal searches. While it was unclear initially if the home searches were voluntary, it is now crystal clear that they were absolutely NOT voluntary. Police were filmed ripping people from their homes at gunpoint, marching the residents out with their hands raised in submission, and then storming the homes to perform their illegal searches.

This was part of a larger operation that involved total lockdown of the suburban neighbor to Boston. Roads were barricaded and vehicle traffic was prohibited. A No-Fly Zone was declared over the town. People were "ordered" to stay indoors. Businesses were told not to open. National Guard soldiers helped with the lockdown, and were photographed checking IDs of pedestrians on the streets. All the while, police were performing these disgusting house-to-house searches.

After Tamerlan Tsarnaev was killed on April 19, 2013, "authorities" in Boston suspended all mass transit and warned close to one million people in the entire city and some of its suburbs to stay indoors as the hunt for his brother, Dzhokhar, went on. Businesses were asked not to open. People waiting at bus and subway stops were told to go home. From Watertown to Cambridge, police SWAT teams, sharpshooters and FBI agents with armored vehicles surrounded various buildings as police helicopters buzzed overhead. [Source]

April 20, 2015

Federal Employee Pension Fairness Act of 2015

H.R.785 - Federal Employee Pension Fairness Act of 2015114th Congress (2015-2016) | Get alerts


Sponsor: Rep. Edwards, Donna F. [D-MD-4] (Introduced 02/05/2015)
Committees: House - Ways and Means; Oversight and Government Reform; Foreign Affairs
Latest Action: 02/05/2015 Referred to House Foreign Affairs  (All Actions)

Summary: H.R.785 — 114th Congress (2015-2016)All Bill Information (Except Text)

There is one summary for H.R.785. Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

Shown Here:
Introduced in House (02/05/2015)

Federal Employee Pension Fairness Act of 2015
Repeals provisions requiring federal employees, including foreign service employees, who began service after 2012 to pay an increased contribution (4.4%) for funding their annuities under the Federal Employees Retirement System.

Amends the Internal Revenue Code to: (1) treat certain foreign corporations managed and controlled primarily in the United States as domestic corporations for U.S. tax purposes; and (2) revise rules for the taxation of inverted corporations (i.e., U.S. corporations that acquire foreign companies to reincorporate in a foreign jurisdiction with lower income tax rates than the United States).

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee this evening passed a bill cutting federal pensions on a party-line vote. HR 3813, the Securing Annuities for Federal Employees Act, would raise the amounts federal employees contribute to their pensions by 1.5 percentage points, eliminate the Federal Employees Retirement System supplement for retirees who aren’t yet eligible for Social Security, and drastically cut pensions for future federal retirees. Read more about the bill here.

Rep. Dennis Ross, R-Fla., the bill’s sponsor, said federal pensions are too expensive for the cash-strapped government to continue to cover. But Democrats unanimously blasted Republicans for treating feds like a “piggy bank,” in the words of Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md. They say the GOP is asking federal employees to sacrifice their pensions to alleviate the deficit, while refusing to even consider raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans.

And Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., was the most vehement denouncer of the bill. He called it “a new low” for the House GOP, and said Republicans may be close to sadism. Said Connolly:
One has to wonder when the House Republican leadership crosses the line from political opportunism to sadism in its relentless assault on public servants. Do some derive pleasure from denigrating and, with this bill, impoverishing the patriots who volunteer to serve their country?
Ross dismissed accusations that Republicans aimed to trash feds. “It is not at all a swipe at anybody,” Ross said. “There is no vilification going on.”

But as the bill goes to the full House, the rhetoric is clearly heating up. Stay tuned for more information on this bill tomorrow.

Legislation Introduced to Cut Federal Pensions

Filed in Blogs by on March 5, 2015 

Congressman Bruce Westerman (R-AR) has introduced legislation (H.R. 1230) that would change the pension benefit formula for federal employees to use the highest five years of earnings to calculate civil service pension benefits.

“This bill would simply change the formula for determining pension benefits for civilian federal employees from the best-earning three years to the best-earning five years of service,” said Westerman. “The bill ensures that the program employees of the federal government have paid into for their careers is available in retirement and sustainable for future generations.”

It is estimated that the change would save taxpayers a total of $3.1 billion over 10 years. The change would go into effect on January 1, 2017.

As a part of the proposal, all federal civilian employees – including Members of Congress and their staffs – would be impacted by the change. The only exemption to the proposed legislative action are active duty and retired military personnel.

House to vote on federal pension changes separate from highway bill

The House will take up a bill this week that increases federal employees’ contributions and change the annuity calculation for new employees from the high-three formula to the high-five.

Last month, H.R.3813 was inserted into a massive highway bill, H.R.7, or the American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Act. The House now is breaking up H.R.7 into three components, one of which is H.R.3813. A House Rules Committee spokesperson said H.R.3813 will be voted on Thursday.

The current language of H.R. 3813 increases federal employees’ contributions to their retirements by 1.5 percent, phased in over three years. For individuals not subject to mandatory retirement who choose to retire on or after Jan. 1, 2013, the FERS minimum supplement is eliminated. Currently, the FERS minimum supplement is paid to those qualifying employees who retire prior to age 62.

The legislation also introduces a new pension formula that applies to employees who have less than five years of creditable service or are hired after Dec. 31, 2012. The new annuity formula would be based on the highest five years of salary instead of the current calculation of the highest three years. Also, the contribution for these new employees is 4 percent.

In an effort to save federal employees from the benefit cuts, Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) introduced an amendment to H.R. 7 on Wednesday to replace language in the bill that would increase federal employees’ contributions to their pension funds. Connolly’s amendment would replace it with language addressing oil industry tax credits. However, now with the separation of H.R.7 into different components, federal benefits is still on the table.

Connolly has spoken out against the cuts to retirement benefits.

“Federal employees have already contributed $60 billion in deficit reduction through a two-year pay freeze,” he said in a statement. “They’ve done their part and rightfully would like to know why they are being singled out yet again. Furthermore, there is no nexus between a so-called transportation bill and slashing federal pensions. The transportation bill should be funded by transportation-related user fees, as it always has.”

The conferees debating the payroll tax cut extension also are considering increases to federal pension contributions. Their tentative deal would make federal employees pay 1.2 percent more for their pensions as a way to pay for jobless benefits. It’s unclear how the potential passage of H.R.3813 would impact the conferees’ proposal.

On Wednesday, Patricia Niehaus, the national president of the Federal Managers Association (FMA), sent a letter to House members criticizing both bills for disproportionately targeting federal employees.

“Federal employees are not only being targeted in the name of deficit reduction, but now it seems Congress is willing to use them as a means to pay for any legislation moving through the House,” Niehaus wrote. “This sets a dangerous precedent and disproportionately places an inequitable burden on federal employees under the false pretense that their pay and benefits are far greater than their private sector counterparts.”

Niehaus specifically objected to language in the bills calling for changes to CSRS and FERS, which would require federal employees to make the 1.5 percent contribution to their retirement plans. She also expressed concern over the provision that eliminated the FERS annuity supplement.

The House broke up H.R. 7 into three parts, one of which is H.R. 3813. House members will begin debating H.R. 3813 today, according to Doug Andres, director of the House Rules Committee. He said that a vote on the bill is expected for Thursday.

Hatch Unveils Bill to Overhaul Pension Benefit System, Secure Retirement Savings

In Speech on Senate Floor, Utah Senator Says, “America cannot continue sleepwalking into the financial disaster that awaits us if we do not get the public pension debt crisis under control.”

July 9, 2013

To address the public pension debt crisis and better secure retirement savings for millions of Americans, Finance Committee Ranking Member Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) today unveiled the Secure Annuities for Employee (SAFE) Retirement Act of 2013, legislation to strengthen and reform much of the nation’s public and private pension benefit system.

“America cannot continue sleepwalking into the financial disaster that awaits us if we do not get the public pension debt crisis under control,” said Hatch during a speech on the Senate floor today.  “The problem is getting more serious every day and cannot be remedied merely by fine-tuning the existing pension structures available to public employers.  A new public pension design is needed: one that provides cost certainty for state and local taxpayers, retirement income security for state and local employees, and does not include an explicit or implicit federal government guarantee.”

Dangerously high unfunded pension liabilities of state and local governments have threatened the fiscal solvency of states and municipalities as well as the nation’s long-term fiscal health, including the U.S. credit rating. Today public pension debt remains as high as $4.4 trillion and outstanding state and local municipal bond debt adds another $3.7 trillion. Last year, Hatch issued a report - which served as the foundation for the legislation - outlining the financial risks of the public pension debt crisis and its negative impact on the American economy.

Even more, with a national savings rate of only 2.5 percent, longer life expectancies and far fewer workers covered by defined-benefit pension plans, Americans across the country are struggling to adequately prepare for their retirement. The Finance Committee has received evidence in hearings that access to a retirement plan at work is the best way to ensure that individuals save for retirement.

“A pension is insurance against outliving the money you have available to pay your monthly bills,” Hatch continued.  “It cannot be denied that people are living longer.  And as wonderful as that is, it also means we need find new ways to stretch our monthly pension dollars over longer lifetimes.  The SAFE Retirement Plan can meet the test.”

The SAFE Retirement Act of 2013 streamlines current pension programs by providing states, employers, and American workers with stronger tools for providing pensions and better secure retirement savings. Specifically, the Hatch plan takes a three-prong approach to pension reform:
  1. Public Pension Reform: This legislation creates a new pension plan, called the SAFE Retirement Plan, with stable, predictable costs that state and local governments may use to deliver secure pension benefits. This new tool eliminates pension plan underfunding prospectively while delivering lifetime retirement income to employees.  SAFE Retirement Plans are state regulated, market based, fixed annuity solutions to the retirement income crisis in the states, with a consumer safety net, only minimal involvement by the federal government and no federal taxes.
  2. Private Pension Reform:  The SAFE Retirement Act includes a host of common-sense and long-overdue reforms that will especially help small- and mid-sized employers establish and maintain retirement savings plans for their employees.  The SAFE Retirement Act also creates an innovative new plan called the Starter 401(k), a retirement savings plan that allows employees to save up to $8,000 per year, more than in an IRA, but does not involve the administrative burden or expense of a traditional 401(k) plan.  The Starter 401(k) is perfect for a small or start-up business that is not in a position to contribute to a plan but wants to help its employees save.  
  3. Access to Professional Investment Advice: The SAFE Retirement Act also takes action to stop the Department of Labor from unilaterally over-regulating 401(k) plans and IRas.  The legislation restores jurisdiction over the fiduciary rules in the Tax Code to the Treasury Department.  In addition, Treasury will consult with the Securities and Exchange Commission in prescribing rules relating to the professional standard of care owed by brokers and investment advisors to IRA investors.  This legislation is consistent with the bipartisan and bicameral effort to convince the Labor Secretary to preserve access to professional investment advice for middle class investors.
The Senate Finance Committee has jurisdiction over tax-qualified pension issues. The SAFE Retirement Act of 2013 has garnered the support of a variety of organizations including:  the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Americans for Tax Reform (ATR), MetLife, the Small Business Council of America (SBCA), American Council of Life Insurers (ACLI), National Association for Fixed Annuities (NAFA), National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), and the National Organization of Life & Health Insurance Guaranty Associations (NOLHGA), among others.

To view a summary of the legislation click HERE.

To view a copy of Hatch’s remarks on the Senate floor click HERE.

April 19, 2015

Forty-three Percent of Germans Don't Trust the U.S. Government

In a 2014 poll, 13% of Americans say the government can be trusted to do what is right always or most of the time, and 17% of Americans believe that big business can be trusted to do what is right always or most of the time. We should swap those two groups for the 43% of Germans who know the truth that the U.S. government is corrupt and is in collusion with big business and high finance, and then maybe we can vote out the politicians who kowtow to the statists and elitists who run America.

Thousands in Germany protest against Europe-U.S. trade deal

April 18, 2015

Reuters - Thousands of people marched in Berlin, Munich and other German cities on Saturday in protest against a planned free trade deal between Europe and the United States that they fear will erode food, labor and environmental standards.

Opposition to the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) is particularly high in Germany, in part due to rising anti-American sentiment linked to revelations of U.S. spying and fears of digital domination by firms like Google.

A recent YouGov poll showed that 43 percent of Germans believe TTIP would be bad for the country, compared to 26 percent who see it as positive.

The level of resistance has taken Chancellor Angela Merkel's government and German industry by surprise, and they are now scrambling to reverse the tide and save a deal which proponents say could add $100 billion in annual economic output on both sides of the Atlantic.

In Berlin, a crowd estimated by police at 1,500 formed a human chain winding from the Potsdamer Platz square, past the U.S. embassy and through the Brandenburg Gate to offices of the European Commission.

In Munich, police put the crowd at 3,000, while organizers Attac estimated it at 15,000. Hundreds also marched in Leipzig, Stuttgart, Frankfurt and other European cities on what Attac hailed as a "global day of action" against free trade, though the protests appeared to be largest in Germany.
"I think this deal will open the door to genetically-modified foods here," said Jennifer Ruffatto, 28, who works with handicapped people and was pushing her baby in a stroller. "Companies will gain from this at the expense of people."
Helmut Edelhauesser, a 52-year-old from Brandenburg, said he would prefer a free trade deal with Russia.
"The U.S. push for world domination is unacceptable," he told Reuters. "Obama sends out drones to kill people and wins the Nobel peace prize. This has to stop."
Marchers held up posters reading "People have a right to food not profits" and "Beware the TTIP trap - companies win, people lose!"

April 13, 2015

2014 Defense Spending Totaled $610 Billion for the U.S., $216 Billion for China, and $84.5 Billion for Russia

China, Russia, Saudi Arabia Increased Defense Most as U.S. Cut

April 12, 2015

Bloomberg - Chinese, Russian and Saudi Arabian defense spending increased the most last year, while U.S. expenditures declined, according to a report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

China’s defense spending rose 9.7 percent from a year earlier to $216 billion, and Russia’s increased 8.1 percent to $84.5 billion, the research group said in its annual report on global defense spending adjusted for inflation. Saudi Arabia had the biggest percentage increase among the top 15 spenders worldwide, rising 17 percent to $80.8 billion.

While the U.S. remains by far the world’s largest military spender, its expenditures in 2014 dropped 6.5 percent to $610 billion, reflecting a 20 percent decrease since 2010, according to the report, which focuses on countries that spend more than 4 percent of their gross domestic product on defense.

Russia is Buying Up to 500,000 Barrels of Iranian Oil a Day in Exchange for Russian Equipment and Goods, Including Missiles

Russia Lifts Ban On Sending Missiles To Iran, Kremlin Says

April 13, 2015

Reuters - Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday paved the way for long-overdue missile system deliveries to Iran and Moscow started an oil-for-goods swap with Tehran, showing the Kremlin's determination to boost economic ties with the Islamic Republic.

The moves come after world powers, including Russia, reached an interim deal with Iran on curbing its nuclear program and signal that Moscow may have a head-start in the race to benefit from an eventual lifting of sanctions on Tehran.

The Kremlin said Putin signed a decree lifting Russia's own ban on the delivery of S-300 anti-missile rocket system to Iran, removing a major irritant between the two after Moscow canceled a corresponding contract in 2010 under pressure from the West.

A senior government official said separately that Russia has started supplying grain, equipment and construction materials to Iran in exchange for crude oil under a barter deal.

Sources told Reuters more than a year ago that a deal worth up to $20 billion was being discussed with
Tehran and would involve Russia buying up to 500,000 barrels of Iranian oil a day in exchange for Russian equipment and goods.

April 11, 2015

North Korea has a Nuclear-capable Missile That Can Hit the U.S.

US: North Korea has ability to nuclearize KN-08 missile

Top Norad general: North Korea has a nuclear-capable missile that can hit the US

April 10, 2015

Business Insider - North Korea has developed the ability to miniaturize nuclear warheads and launch them at the US, the general in charge of the North American Aerospace Defense Command (Norad) said at a Pentagon news conference on Tuesday.

Adm. Bill Gortney told reporters that, according to the Pentagon's assessment, North Korea now has the capability to place miniaturized nuclear warheads on its latest KN-08 intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).

Pyongyang has "the ability to put a nuclear weapon on a KN-08 and shoot it at the homeland," Gortney said.
This union of highly advanced military capabilities places an additional strain on US missile defense. The KN-08 is a road-mobile ICBM, meaning Pyongyang can move the launch system throughout the country.

Do You Have to Show an ID to a Cop? How Do You Refuse a Search on Your Car?

May 21, 2009

Dr. Tarrin P Lupo - Do you have to show an ID to a cop? How do you refuse a search on your car? Here's and interview with civil rights attorney Alan Lowe to get answers.

The Fourth Amendment: Protecting Your Privacy

Nolo - The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution places limits on the power of the police to make arrests, search people and their property, and seize objects and contraband (such as illegal drugs or weapons). These limits are the bedrock of search-and-seizure law. This article covers basic issues you should know, beginning with an overview of the Fourth Amendment itself. (You can find it and other amendments in the Bill of Rights in Nolo's list of The Most Important Cases, Speeches, Laws & Documents in American History.)

Israeli Troops Shoot Dead a Palestinian at West Bank Funeral

Israeli troops shoot dead Palestinian at West Bank funeral: medics

April 11, 2015

AFP - Israeli troops shot dead a Palestinian man in the West Bank on Friday when they opened fire during the funeral of a Palestinian recently released from Israeli jail, medics said.

Two other Palestinians were wounded when Israeli troops opened fire to quell protests that erupted in Hebron after the burial of the man, who had died shortly after leaving prison, the medics said.

The 30-year-old victim, Ziad Awad, was shot in the back, they said.

The Palestinian medics identified the man who was buried as a relative, Jaafar Awad, who fell ill before he was released from jail.

Angry protests erupted during his funeral in the southern West Bank, with mourners accusing Israel of responsibility for his death.

Thousands of people marched in the funeral procession in the village of Beit Ummar, and some pelted troops deployed nearby with stones, witnesses said.

Israeli soldiers retaliated by firing tear gas and rubber bullets before resorting to live rounds, the witnesses added.

The head of a Palestinian Authority body in charge of prisoner affairs, Issa Qaraqe, issued a statement alleging Jaafar Awad had died of "medical negligence" at the hands of Israeli prison authorities.
"Israel alone is responsible for his death," Qaraqe said in the statement, and called for an international probe.
Jaafar's father, Ibrahim Awad, told AFP before his son's death that Israeli prison authorities had given the 23-year-old man "an injection that made him ill and totally weakened him."

Israel jailed Jaafar Ibrahim over "terrorist activity" and "membership in the Islamic Jihad" Palestinian militant group -- accusations denied by his family.

April 10, 2015

Who Are the Real Boston Marathon Bombers?

The content of this blog post has been moved to:

Who are the Real Boston Marathon Bombers? Part 1

Who are the Real Boston Marathon Bombers? Part 2

April 9, 2015

U.S. Government Plans to Use Military Force Against Its Citizens and is Arming Some of Its Employees in Case of Civil Unrest and Martial Law

On December 29, 2010, the "Defense Support of Civil Authorities" DOD directive was signed by then-Deputy Secretary of Defense William J Lynn III. It remained largely unnoticed until The Washington Times ran an exposé on it on May 28, 2014 (beware of Santa's secret legislation). The directive authorizes "military support" of "civilian authorities" (law enforcement at the local, state and federal levels). A defense official proclaimed that the directive authorizes the government to use military force within the United States against its citizens. A year later, on December 31, 2011, President Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) into law, which authorizes the indefinite detention, without charge or trial, of U.S. citizens. The ACLU's executive director said: “The statute is particularly dangerous because it has no temporal or geographic limitations, and it can be used by this and future presidents to militarily detain people captured far from any battlefield.”

On January 21, 2013, 2009 Nobel Peace Prize nominee Jim Garrow wrote on his Facebook page: “I have just been informed by a former senior military leader that Obama is using a new “litmus test” in determining who will stay and who must go in his military leaders. The new litmus test of leadership in the military is if they will fire on U.S. citizens or not. Those who will not are being removed.” Garrow later followed up the post by adding the man who told him this is “one of America’s foremost military heroes,” whose goal in divulging the information was to “sound the alarm.”

The U.S. military has clearly outlined innumerable civil emergency scenarios under which troops would be authorized to fire on U.S. citizens. In July 2012, the process by which this could take place was made clear in a leaked U.S. Army military police training manual for “Civil Disturbance Operations” (PDF) dating from 2006. Similar plans were also outlined in an updated manual released in 2010 entitled FM 3-39.40 "Internment and Resettlement Operations." The 2006 document outlines how military assets will be used to “help local and state authorities to restore and maintain law and order” in the event of mass riots, civil unrest or a declaration of martial law. On page 20 of the manual, rules regarding the use of “deadly force” in confronting “dissidents” on American soil are made disturbingly clear with the directive that a “warning shot will not be fired.” [Source]

Inside the Ring: Memo outlines Obama’s plan to use the military against citizens

May 28, 2014

The Washington Times - A 2010 Pentagon directive on military support to civilian authorities details what critics say is a troubling policy that envisions the Obama administration’s potential use of military force against Americans.

The directive contains noncontroversial provisions on support to civilian fire and emergency services, special events and the domestic use of the Army Corps of Engineers.

The troubling aspect of the directive outlines presidential authority for the use of military arms and forces, including unarmed drones, in operations against domestic unrest.
“This appears to be the latest step in the administration’s decision to use force within the United States against its citizens,” said a defense official opposed to the directive.

Directive No. 3025.18, “Defense Support of Civil Authorities,” was issued Dec. 29, 2010, and states that U.S. commanders “are provided emergency authority under this directive.”

Federal military forces shall not be used to quell civil disturbances unless specifically authorized by the president in accordance with applicable law or permitted under emergency authority,” the directive states.

“In these circumstances, those federal military commanders have the authority, in extraordinary emergency circumstances where prior authorization by the president is impossible and duly constituted local authorities are unable to control the situation, to engage temporarily in activities that are necessary to quell large-scale, unexpected civil disturbances” under two conditions.

The conditions include military support needed “to prevent significant loss of life or wanton destruction of property and are necessary to restore governmental function and public order.” A second use is when federal, state and local authorities “are unable or decline to provide adequate protection for federal property or federal governmental functions.”

Federal action, including the use of federal military forces, is authorized when necessary to protect the federal property or functions,” the directive states.
Military assistance can include loans of arms, ammunition, vessels and aircraft. The directive states clearly that it is for engaging civilians during times of unrest.

A U.S. official said the Obama administration considered but rejected deploying military force under the directive during the recent standoff with Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy and his armed supporters. Mr. Bundy is engaged in a legal battle with the federal Bureau of Land Management over unpaid grazing fees. Along with a group of protesters, Mr. Bundy in April confronted federal and local authorities in a standoff that ended when the authorities backed down.

The Pentagon directive authorizes the secretary of defense to approve the use of unarmed drones in domestic unrest. But it bans the use of missile-firing unmanned aircraft.
“Use of armed [unmanned aircraft systems] is not authorized,” the directive says.
The directive was signed by then-Deputy Defense Secretary William J. Lynn. A copy can be found on the Pentagon website: http://www.dtic.mil/whs/directives/corres/pdf/302518p.pdf.

Defense analysts say there has been a buildup of military units within non-security-related federal agencies, notably the creation of Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) teams. The buildup has raised questions about whether the Obama administration is undermining civil liberties under the guise of counterterrorism and counternarcotics efforts.

Other agencies with SWAT teams reportedly include:
  • Department of Agriculture
  • Railroad Retirement Board
  • Tennessee Valley Authority
  • Office of Personnel Management,
  • Consumer Product Safety Commission,
  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 
  • Education Department
The militarization of federal agencies, under little-known statues that permit deputization of security officials, comes as the White House has launched verbal attacks on private citizens’ ownership of firearms despite the fact that most gun owners are law-abiding citizens.

April 8, 2015

Iran Accuses Nuclear Powers — the U.S., Russia, China, Britain and France — of Promising Nuclear Disarmament But Making No Significant Progress

Iran calls for a timetable for global nuclear disarmament

April 8, 2015

AP - Iran accused the five nuclear powers Wednesday of failing to take concrete action to eliminate their stockpiles and called for negotiations on a convention to achieve nuclear disarmament by a target date.

Iran's deputy U.N. ambassador Gholam Hossein Dehghani told the U.N. Disarmament Commission that "a comprehensive, binding, irreversible, verifiable" treaty is the most effective and practical way to eliminate nuclear weapons.

He accused the nuclear powers — the U.S., Russia, China, Britain and France — of promising nuclear disarmament but making no significant progress.

Dehghani's speech came days after the announcement of a framework agreement between Iran and the five nuclear powers and Germany aimed at keeping Tehran from being able to develop a nuclear weapon. It has to be finalized by June 30.

The commission, which includes all 193 member states, is supposed to make recommendations in the field of disarmament but has failed to make substantive proposals in the past decade.

April 7, 2015

Snowden is a Patriot to the Citizens, But an Enemy to the Government

Spying on US citizens is illegal in America according to the fourth amendment, which prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures and requires any warrant to be judicially sanctioned and supported by probable cause. Initially the NSA claimed they were eavesdropping only on foreign targets. In 2002, George W. Bush signed a presidential order, which allowed the NSA to monitor, without a warrant, the international (and sometimes domestic) phone calls and e-mail messages of hundreds of thousands of citizens and legal residents.

Real change, or rather the chance for real change, will come from those who are willing to lay down their lives to do what it takes to resist and fight against tyranny in America. Most of us here know what needs to be done, but we also know that if we say it clearly and honestly without using good encryption such as TOR with no-scripts activated, then we can expect our front door to be kicked in by the communist loving alphabet agency goons. - Seer, The Common Sense Show, May 26, 2014

Voltaire famously said, ‘ You know who your Masters are by whom you are not allowed to criticize.”

George Orwell once said, “The further a society drifts from the truth, the more it will hate those that speak it.”

Am I going to believe a proven chronic liar or Ed Snowden, who gave up his freedom and homeland to bring the truth of government tyranny to the people!

Snowden, an American hero, is trying to tell the Americans, who are sheep controlled by the criminals in DC, about the illegal actions the government is hammering us with every day. Thank you Snowden and all whistle blowers. If not for you DC would have an agent in every home before long. When a government is corrupted like ours, they are above the law. They ARE above the law because they are the law. I'm for anybody who can help get rid of DC criminals and help us win our country back. - David

The NSA has already forfeited the right to be believed on anything. They have consistently lied to the American people and described Snowden as a traitor for revealing their criminal activity to the enemy - us! Snowden should be given the Presidential Medal of Freedom and given a heroes welcome before the feds assassinate him for exposing their lies.- TrailR

"Now we know why Congress has had to wait for years for Obama and company to find the info that Congress needs to conduct inquiries into the governments improprieties or Snowden is lying on national television about something that can easily be confirmed. But, then again, this is the same NSA that stood up on national TV and denied any spying on American citizens, that same spying that was declared - illegal - by a court of law. So I guess the question is - who is the real liar ? Someone who has lost everything to try and bring out the truth (which has been verified) or a bunch of pinko commies that have been found guilty at every turn. - justyntoo, Yahoo!, May 29, 2014

"Why hasn't anyone been prosecuted for lying to Congress. James Clapper and that Admiral and general sure lied flat out. Yet they still have their passports and walk around as free men, still have access to their bank accounts. What about the violations to all the civil liberties of all AMERICANS. Have our people really forgotten the value of our 4th and 14th amendments? Have the people of America forgotten how mad Congress and the Senate got when they thought they were being spied on, yet they feel it's OK for the American people to be spied on. Why should it not be OK for them but be OK for us? Is my privacy less important than theirs? Hey, I'm not the one having affairs with my aids (gay or otherwise), buying drugs outside DC restaurants, taking bribes, or committing any other crimes. No wonder they got upset they were being spied on." - Commenter

"I remember reading in several news sources over the last many months that NSA personnel said they should have been able to predict his leaking of NSA activity due to the fact that he kept a copy of the Constitution (I'm not sure if all or just the Bill of Rights). They all said something to the effect of, "Looking back, we should have known someone with a Constitution document would be a high risk NSA employee". That says ALOT." - Doug

"If those in power cannot be trusted to tell the truth to us or protect our Constitutional rights, I am thankful for the courage Snowden showed to reveal these criminal wrongdoings." - Richard

"I believe the man who exposed the spying over the ones who are actively engaged in spying.Who do you trust?" - Victor

It is against the Constitution stupid!!! It is illegal search and seizure stupid!!! It's called privacy, and the government, our government, used the excuse of 9/11 as an excuse to question any U.S. citizen without due process and without a warrant in order to obtain information. How did this work before 9/11 when the terrorists were here? - D

The truth is that people who oppose this believe in democracy and are against the idea of a government giving itself power not granted to it by its people. And they understand knowledge is power. If you know every little secret about someone, you can make them do whatever you want. In this case, they can make anyone in the country do anything, even elected politicians and members of the military. Also, there is something called a law. Some people think the NSA and the government itself is not above the law. The Constitution means something you know - the part about search and seizure of personal property. It kinda sucks why the government just goes, "Screw that, we will violate that right on hundreds of millions of Americans." Are you the type of person that would have supported the Nazis because they were they government, and they were just trying to protect us, lol.- michaelg

Bust of Edward Snowden in Brooklyn's Fort Greene Park, New York

This photo provided by Aymann Ismail/ANIMALNewYork on Monday, April 6, 2015, shows an installation of a bust of the former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden in Brooklyn's Fort Greene Park, in New York. After several mysterious artists put a sculpted bust of Snowden on a New York City war memorial, parks officials have ordered the bust removed. Animal New York, a city news website, reported that the activists sneaked the 4-foot-tall, 100-pound bust of Snowden before dawn Monday.
The 4th Amendment of the Constitution: "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

I'm sure that the Government should, in particular, note the phrase "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects...shall not be violated."

Of course, our espionage community, along with factions of our police state, hate that amendment and claim that it interferes with their ability to quickly enforce other laws they more highly regard than the Constitution.
April 6, 2015

AP - Suddenly, in the middle of the New York night, Edward Snowden's face appeared — deep in a public park.

A 4-foot-high, 100-pound sculpted bust of the whistleblower now exiled in Russia was sneaked into Brooklyn's Fort Greene Park on Monday before dawn.

Animal New York, a city news website that first reported the incident, said the mysterious perpetrators were a small group of artists — admirers of the former contractor who had leaked classified information from the National Security Agency to the media.

The activists hoisted the bust to the top of a Revolutionary War memorial, adding his name to a column, according to Animal New York.

The website says the group allowed it to document installation of the statue on the condition that it not reveal the identities of the artists.

Snowden's artistic appearance was short-lived.

Rand Paul is Running for President in 2016 - Get Ready for the MSM Smear Campaign to Ramp Up

Rand Paul announces he is running for president

April 7, 2015

Yahoo! News - Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul made it official Tuesday, announcing that he will will run for president in 2016.
"I have a message, a message that is loud and clear and does not mince words," Paul told supporters during a fiery speech at the Galt House in downtown Louisville, hours after announcing his bid for the White House on his website. "We have come to take our country back."
Speaking in front of a backdrop that read, "Defeat The Washington Machine — Unleash The American Dream," Paul said he is running because he has a "different vision" for America, one that includes "a return to prosperity" and a return to smaller government.
"Too often, when Republicans have won, we have squandered our victory by becoming part of the Washington machine," Paul said. "That's not who I am."
The tea party favorite and libertarian Republican candidate joined Texas Sen. Ted Cruz as the second major figure to launch a campaign for the GOP nomination.

Painting himself as a rebellious outsider and contrarian within the Republican party, Paul railed against career politicians, and suggested instituting term limits for members of Congress.
“Washington is horribly broken, I fear it cannot be fixed from within," Paul said. "I've been to Washington, and let me tell you, there is no monopoly on knowledge."
Paul also touched on foreign policy, vowing to "defend America from haters of mankind."

April 6, 2015

Establishing a Palestinian State Would Be "One of the Most Effective Measures to Combat Extremism" in the Mideast

Palestinians want UN timetable to end Israeli occupation

April 6, 2015

AP - The Palestinians are "ready and willing" to see if the U.N. Security Council has "the political will" to adopt a resolution with a deadline for ending Israel's occupation and establishing a Palestinian state, the Palestinian U.N. ambassador said Monday.

Ambassador Riyad Mansour told reporters that adoption of a resolution with a timetable would be "one of the most effective measures to combat extremism in our region, because extremists receive their fuel from the injustice of the Palestinian people."
"If there is a just solution to this conflict ... in a short period of time, then you'll take away from them the main source of recruitment and mobilization," he said, adding that it would also contribute to resolving perhaps 70 percent of the "burning issues in the Middle East."
Mansour said the United States holds the key.

The International Criminal Court Will Never Open a Formal Investigation into the Situation in Palestine

The ICC in Palestine: Be Careful What You Wish For

Kevin Jon Heller joins JiC for this second post in our symposium on Palestine and the International Criminal Court (ICC). Kevin is a Professor of Criminal Law at SOAS, University of London and a contributor to Opinio Juris.

April 2, 2015 

Justice in Conflict - I want to start with a prediction, one I’ve made before and still subscribe to: the International Criminal Court will never open a formal investigation into the situation in Palestine.

People of all political persuasions seem to think that the International Criminal Court (ICC) is somehow eager to leap into the most politicized conflict of the modern era. I disagree, not because the situation doesn’t deserve to be investigated—I think it is one of the gravest situations in the world—but because I don’t think we take the ICC’s institutional interests into account nearly enough when we prognosticate about what it might do. And I see very little upside for the ICC in opening a formal investigation. 

Why it won’t…

My first concern is that the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) simply does not have the resources necessary to investigate additional situations—particularly one as complex as Palestine.

Palestinian Membership in UN's ICC Began on April 1, 2015; Palestinian Authority Rejects Unfrozen Tax Transfer After Israel Deducts a Third to Cover 'Palestinian Utility Debts'

Palestinian Authority rejects Israel tax transfer

April 6, 2015

BBC - Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas says he has refused to accept hundreds of millions of dollars of tax revenues unfrozen by Israel.

Mr Abbas says he returned the money because Israel deducted a third to cover unpaid Palestinian utility debts.

He has threatened to take Israel to the International Criminal Court (ICC) unless the full amount is released.
Israel collects taxes on behalf of the Palestinian Authority (PA), but suspended payments in January.

It froze the transfers in protest at the Palestinians joining the ICC.

Palestinian membership began on 1 April, giving them the option to pursue Israel for alleged war crimes.

Snowden Explains That the NSA's PRISM Program Collects Data from Tech Companies like Google, Facebook and Apple

Thanks to Edward Snowden, Americans now know that the CIA and NSA have spied on Americans citizens through Facebook since June 6, 2009 using a dubious FISA court judicial opinion. The CIA, through its private venture capital business In-Q-Tel, invests in “big data” projects with all of Facebook’s principal underwriters, investors and partners. NSA Prism program taps into user data of Apple, Google, Facebook and others. [Source]

Edward Snowden Explains How The Government Can Get Your 'D**k Pic' During Interview With John Oliver


Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden sat down for an interview with comedian John Oliver nearly two years after he leaked classified documents about U.S. government surveillance programs and fled to Russia to escape prosecution.
"I do miss my country. I do miss my home. I do miss my family," Snowden said.
Oliver, the host of HBO's "Last Week Tonight," encouraged Snowden to explain bulk surveillance in colloquial terms so the general public could better understand it. He showed Snowden a video of Americans who were concerned that the government improperly intercepted nude photos, or "dick pics," as part of its mass surveillance programs.
"The good news is that there's no program named the 'dick pic' program. The bad news... they are still collecting everybody's information, including your dick pics," Snowden said while stifling a chuckle.

"If you have your email somewhere like Gmail hosted on a server overseas or transferred overseas or anytime it crosses outside the borders of the United States, your junk ends up in the database," Snowden added.
Snowden then went on to explain the "PRISM" program, which collects data from tech companies like Google, Facebook, Apple and others.

April 3, 2015

Iran Accuses U.S. of Lying About Details of New Nuclear Agreement

On April 2, 2015, Obama spoke hours after negotiators in Switzerland reached a framework agreement outlining limits on Iran's nuclear program and setting the stage for work on a final deal over the next three months.

Iran agreed to cut the number of operating centrifuges it has by two-thirds, to 5,060, all of them first-generation, and to cut its current stockpile of low-enriched uranium from around 10,000 kilograms to 300 for 15 years. An American description of the deal also referred to inspections “anywhere in the country” that could “investigate suspicious sites or allegations of a covert enrichment facility.”

But in a briefing, American officials talked about setting up a mechanism to resolve disputes that has not been explained in any detail. If that hurdle and the problem of ridding Iran of its huge nuclear fuel stockpile can be fully resolved in the next three months, the preliminary accord will still need to be sold to Iran’s neighbors. The prospect of a deal has inflamed Israel and the Gulf states, alarmed by Iranian muscle-flexing in the Middle East, most recently in Iraq, Syria and Yemen.

In a telephone call from Air Force One on Thursday afternoon, Mr. Obama told Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, that while the deal was not final, it “represents significant progress towards a lasting, comprehensive solution that cuts off all of Iran’s pathways to a bomb and verifiably ensures the peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear program going forward,” according to an account of the conversation from the White House.

Mr. Netanyahu, a strong critic of the deal, was apparently not mollified, and released a statement saying, “A deal based on this framework would threaten the survival of Israel.” [New York Times]

Iran accuses US of lying about new nuke agreement

April 2, 2015

Free Beacon - Just hours after the announcement of what the United States characterized as a historic agreement with Iran over its nuclear program, the country’s leading negotiator lashed out at the Obama administration for lying about the details of a tentative framework.

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif accused the Obama administration of misleading the American people and Congress in a fact sheet it released following the culmination of negotiations with the Islamic Republic.