Archive for July, 2013

Led by Rep. Mike Kelly of PA, U.S. House Committee Approves Funding Ban on UN Gun Grab

July 31, 2013

From The New American by Joe Wolverton, II, J.D., July 27, 2013

As approved by the House Appropriations Committee on July 24, the State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Bill for Fiscal Year 2014 includes a provision to impose a one-year ban on the use of federal funds for the implementation of the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) by the State Department.

House Committee Approves Funding Ban on UN Gun Grab

                     Photo of Rep. Mike Kelly: AP Images

The provision is based on language from Representative Mike Kelly (R-Penn.; shown), who is a dedicated opponent of the global gun grab. Kelly issued the following statement after the committee vote:

I am thrilled to see the House once again take action to stop the ATT from ever shackling our liberty at home or our indispensable leadership abroad. This treaty remains as much a threat to American freedom and sovereignty as ever. Even as the Obama administration shamefully pledges to eventually sign the ATT, the American people deserve assurance that their Second Amendment rights will not be allowed to be endangered by unaccountable international bureaucrats at any time. As events on the global stage continue to grow more dangerous and unpredictable, our nation must never permit any entity to undermine our status as the world’s greatest defender of peace and freedom, or the alliances which ensure both. It is my sincere hope that President Obama and Secretary Kerry will respect the will of the American people as represented by Congress and abandon their support for this harmful and needless treaty.

The text of Kelly’s ban is based on a bipartisan letter he authored and submitted to President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry petitioning the administration not to sign the ATT.

The letter is signed by a total of 130 members of Congress — including Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.), Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), and Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions (R-Texas) — and declares all of the signatories’ opposition to “both the ratification of the Arms Trade Treaty and any effort to treat it as internationally or domestically binding upon the United States.”

Rep. Kelly further states in the letter,

As the signing period for the ATT gets underway next week, President Obama has an opportunity to take a monumental stand for our national sovereignty and our Constitutional rights. The ATT threatens both of these things and should be fully rejected. Any treaty that would put the United States — the world’s defender of peace and freedom — on equal footing with the world’s worst dictatorships and terror-sponsors ought to be condemned, dismissed, and ultimately denied our country’s signature. I sincerely hope the administration will listen to the very real objections my colleagues from both parties in Congress share and rightly decide that joining the ATT is not at all in America’s interest.

To say that the Arms Trade Treaty is not at all in America’s interest is an understatement.

As we have reported, several provisions of this treaty significantly diminish the scope of the right to keep and bear arms.

First, the Arms Trade Treaty grants a monopoly over all weaponry in the hands of the very entity (approved regimes) responsible for over 300 million murders in the 20th century. 

Furthermore, the treaty leaves private citizens powerless to oppose future slaughters. 

An irrefutable fact of armed violence unaddressed by the UN in its gun grab is that all the murders committed by all the serial killers in history don’t amount to a fraction of the brutal killings committed by “authorized state parties” using the very weapons over which they will exercise absolute control under the terms of the Arms Trade Treaty.

Article 2 of the treaty defines the scope of the treaty’s prohibitions. The right to own, buy, sell, trade, or transfer all means of armed resistance, including handguns, is denied to civilians by this section of the Arms Trade Treaty.

Article 3 places the “ammunition/munitions fired, launched or delivered by the conventional arms covered under Article 2” within the scope of the treaty’s prohibitions, as well.

Article 4 rounds out the regulations, also placing all “parts and components” of weapons within the scheme.

Perhaps the most immediate threat to the rights of gun owners in the Arms Trade Treaty is found in Article 5. Under the title of “General Implementation,” Article 5 mandates that all countries participating in the treaty “shall establish and maintain a national control system, including a national control list.”

This list should “apply the provisions of this Treaty to the broadest range of conventional arms.”

Mark it down: If the treaty is ratified by the United States, within months the federal government (likely under the management of the Department of Homeland Security) would begin compiling a list of who owns, buys, sells, trades, or transfers any firearm, as well as the ammunition, parts, and components of those weapons. After creating this database, the federal government would be required under the provisions of Article 5(4) of the Arms Trade Treaty to “provide its national control list to the Secretariat, which shall make it available to other States Parties.”

That’s right. The UN treaty demands that the list of gun and ammunition owners not only be in the hands of our own government, but be sent to foreign regimes, as well. This provision would guarantee that should an American owner of a legally purchased firearm decide to emigrate, he will be on the radar of the ruling regime in his new home.

Americans are right to recognize this registry as the first step toward confiscation. Without such a registry, it would be impossible to monitor weapons transfers effectively because governments can’t track weapons exchanges and transfers unless they know who has them to begin with.

Article 12 adds to the record-keeping requirement, mandating that the list include “the quantity, value, model/type, authorized international transfers of conventional arms,” as well as the identity of the “end users” of these items.

In very clear terms, ratification of the Arms Trade Treaty by the United States would require that the U.S. government force gun owners to add their names to the national registry. Citizens would be required to report the amount and type of all firearms and ammunition they possess.

Section 4 of Article 12 of the treaty requires that the list be kept for at least 10 years.

Although the White House has not announced when the president will sign the document, Secretary Kerry said that in the United States “we look forward to signing it [the Arms Trade Treaty] as soon as the process of conforming the official translations is completed satisfactorily.”

Finally, the agreement demands that national governments take “appropriate measures” to enforce the terms of the treaty, including civilian disarmament. If these countries can’t get this done on their own, however, Article 16 provides for UN assistance, specifically including help with the enforcement of “stockpile management, disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes.”

In fact, a “voluntary trust fund” will be established to assist those countries that need help from UN peacekeepers or other regional forces to disarm their citizens.

The UN Arms Trade Treaty opened for national signatures on June 3, 2013, and will enter into force for its signatories 90 days after the 50th member state ratifies the treaty.

To date, 79 nations have signed the treaty and two — Iceland and Guyana — have ratified it.

Arguably, the ATT will become the law of the United States after the treaty is signed by the president and ratified by the Senate.

While that is the process that the Constitution establishes for the implementation of treaties, fundamental principles of construction and constitutional law dictate that no treaty that violates the Constitution may enjoy the legitimization of that document.

In the case of the ATT, there is no doubt that regardless of presidential signatures or congressional consent, this treaty cannot pass constitutional muster and therefore will never be the valid law of the land.

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Feds Raid Seattle Area Marijuana Clinics Despite State Law

July 31, 2013

From The New American by Jack Kenny, July 27, 2013

Seven government vehicles arrived outside the Bayside Collective in Olympia, Washington, where federal agents with guns drawn seized business records and about $2,500 worth of marijuana in a raid Wednesday morning, according to a report on King TV, Channel 5, the NBC affiliate in Seattle. King 5.com, citing an unnamed source in the U.S. attorney’s office, said Bayside was one of four dispensaries raided in the Seattle area in the culmination of two-year investigation, with the evidence to go before a grand jury in September. The action was taken pursuant to federal law banning the sales or dispensing of marijuana, despite its legalization for recreational as well as medicinal use by referenda measures adopted by voters in Washington and Colorado last November.

“It’s humiliating,” said Casey Lee, who works at the Bayside clinic. “They don’t get to see the cancer patients” who were to receive the confiscated marijuana.

Medical marijuana patient Leif O’Leary arrived at Seattle Cross to find the dispensary closed by order of the federal Drug Enforcement Administration. “You can’t tell me there [aren’t] bigger fish to fry, especially now that recreational marijuana is legal,” he said. Washington now allows private possession of up to one ounce of marijuana. “It is just to me inconceivable that this is still happening,” he added.

The federal raids appear to contradict a policy statement issued by the Department of Justice during President Obama’s first year in office. In an October 2009 memorandum to federal prosecutors in the 14 states that then allowed medical use of marijuana, the department said prosecuting patients or distributors who are in “clear and unambiguous compliance” with state laws would not be an “efficient and rational use” of the department’s resources. In a statement accompanying the memo, Attorney General Eric Holder seemed to be in agreement with O’Leary’s contention that federal law enforcement officials had “bigger fish to fry.”

“It will not be a priority to use federal resources to prosecute patients with serious illnesses or their caregivers who are complying with state laws on medical marijuana,” Holder said, “but we will not tolerate drug traffickers who hide behind claims of compliance with state law to mask activities that are clearly illegal.”

The use of marijuana is widely believed to offer a number of benefits to patients, including a reduction of nausea and vomiting, the stimulation of appetite in AIDS patients and those receiving chemotherapy, and relief from the vision impairment known as glaucoma. Some physicians point to harmful effects, however. The American Society of Addiction Medicine issued a report last year warning that marijuana use can lead to addiction, citing a finding that marijuana is the drug used by 61 percent of all Americans suffering from substance abuse disorders related to drugs other than alcohol.

The medicinal use of marijuana is allowed by the laws of a growing number of states, with New Hampshire becoming the 20th, along with the District of Columbia, when Gov. Maggie Hassan signed a legalization bill into law this week. The federal ban remains in effect, however, and it is unclear whether this week’s action in Seattle was simply an enforcement of the prohibition or is based on evidence that drug traffickers were, in Holder’s words, using the medical dispensaries to “mask activities that are clearly illegal.””Marijuana is illegal 24 hours a day, 7 days a week under federal law,” criminal defense lawyer Douglas Hiatt told King TV. “There is no defense, there is no justification.”

The supremacy clause in Article VI of the U.S. Constitution holds that the nation’s Constitution and the laws of the United States “made in pursuance thereof” shall be the supreme law of the land, anything in “the Constitution or the Laws of any state to the Contrary notwithstanding.” The argument has been made, however, that the federal law banning marijuana use, like many other federal laws, was not made “in pursuance of” powers delegated to the federal government by the Constitution. In establishing the nation’s ill-fated prohibition of the manufacture, sale, or transportation of alcohol in 1919, Congress found it necessary to first get ratification by the states of an amendment giving the Congress that authority. Marijuana, on the other hand, has been outlawed since 1937 by mere federal statutes, with no grant of such power in the federal Constitution.

In Gonzalez v. Raich, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2005 that federal law enforcement was justified in seizing and destroying marijuana plants grown by California residents for medical use, despite the fact that California had legalized that activity by its Compassionate Use law. The Court, in an opinion written by Justice John Paul Stevens (with a concurring opinion by Antonin Scalia), relied on the clause (in Article I Section 8) of the Constitution authorizing the regulation by Congress of interstate commerce. Allowing the cultivation of the plant would have an effect on the interstate market of the commodity, the Court held, though by an act of Congress there was not supposed to be any market for that commodity. The Court relied in part on the 1942 precedent of Wickard v. Filburn, in which a unanimous Supreme Court upheld the federal regulation of the amount of wheat a farmer could grow to feed the livestock on his own farm. That came under interstate commerce regulation, the Court ruled, because if the farmer had not grown excess wheat to feed to his livestock, he would have had to buy that amount, and thus his action affected the interstate market in wheat.

Justice Clarence Thomas, registering his dissent in the  Raich case, wrote,

They cultivate their cannabis entirely in the State of California — it never crosses state lines, much less as part of a commercial transaction. Certainly no evidence from the founding suggests that “commerce” included the mere possession of a good or some purely personal activity that did not involve trade or exchange for value. In the early days of the Republic, it would have been unthinkable that Congress could prohibit the local cultivation, possession, and consumption of marijuana.

Justice Scalia followed similar reasoning in the 1995 case of U.S. v. Lopez, holding with the 5-4 majority in that decision that Congress had no authority to ban the possession of firearms in a “gun-free” school zone, since the mere carrying of a firearm in or within a specified distance of a school building is neither commerce nor an interstate activity. His opposite approach in Raich has been subject to complex legal analysis, but the disparity might not  be that difficult to understand. Scalia, who pastimes include hunting and smoking cigarettes, likes guns.

He probably doesn’t like marijuana.

California State Senate Committee Set to Vote on NDAA Nullification Bill

July 31, 2013

From The New American by Joe Wolverton, II, J.D., July 27, 2013

On August 12 at 1:30 p.m., the California State Senate Appropriations Committee is scheduled to consider and vote on a bill to make it more difficult for residents of the Golden State to be indefinitely detained under provisions of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The bill, AB 351, is known as the California Liberty Preservation Act.

On June 25, the California State Senate Public Safety Committee unanimously approved AB 351 by a vote of 7-0.

Calif. State Committee Set to Vote on NDAA Nullification Bill

                        California State Capitol Building

The bill’s primary sponsor is current gubernatorial candidate Assemblyman Tim Donnelly (R-33rd District). Donnelly’s bill specifically guarantees the right of citizens of California to be free from any federal law, including the NDAA, that would authorize their indefinite detention in violation of habeas corpus.

Known as the California Liberty Preservation Act, AB 351 is backed by a politically diverse coalition, including Taxpayers for Improving Public Safety, the Bill of Rights Defense Committee, the Tenth Amendment Center, the California American Civil Liberties Union, San Francisco Board of Supervisors president David Chiu, the Libertarian Party of California, and the Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors.

Specifically, if enacted, the bill would shield from federal assault several fundamental constitutionally guaranteed civil liberties, “including the right of habeas corpus, the right to due process, the right to a speedy and public trial, and the right to be informed of criminal charges brought against him or her.”

Relying on the 10th Amendment’s reservation to the states and the people all powers not specifically delegated to the federal government in the Constitution, the bill is a constitutionally sound expression of state sovereignty.

In a press release issued by his office after the committee approved his bill, Assemblyman Donnelly recognizes his duty to resist attempts by Washington, D.C., to deny Americans of their most basic freedoms.

“The NDAA gives the executive branch — under not only President Obama, but also every future president — unprecedented power to detain US citizens without due process. This runs counter to the very principles that make America great, and violates our nation’s commitment to the rule of law,” said Assemblyman Donnelly.

He continued, “We have a moral duty to protect Californians from the disastrous consequences made possible by NDAA. When Constitutional protections are ignored, racist hysteria allows vulnerable groups to be targeted. It was not long ago we memorialized the tragedy of Japanese American internment camps on the floor of the California State Assembly. I am grateful for today’s committee vote, which shows Californians that their representatives are serious about ensuring similar violations of freedom and human rights abuses never happen again within our State.”

While the text of the bill lays out specific ways in which the NDAA denies citizens many of the most basic constitutionally protected civil liberties, the surprising scope of the NDAA is still unfamiliar to most Americans.

President Barack Obama signed the latest National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) into law on January 2, renewing the power to apprehend and detain Americans indefinitely granted in the previous year’s version.

The Fiscal Year 2014 version of the bill is currently working its way through Congress. At this time, many amendments that would have stricken some of the most pernicious provisions from the act have been defeated.

As for the most unconstitutional parts of the NDAA 2012 that remain in effect, a bit of history is in order.

On December 31, 2011, with the president’s signing of that law, the writ of habeas corpus — a civil right so fundamental to Anglo-American common law history that it predates the Magna Carta — is voidable upon the command of the president of the United States. The Sixth Amendment right to counsel is also revocable at his will.

One of the most noxious elements of the NDAA is that it places the American military at the disposal of the president for the apprehension, arrest, and detention of those suspected of posing a danger to the homeland (whether inside or outside the borders of the United States and whether the suspect be a citizen or foreigner). The endowment of such a power to the president by the Congress is nothing less than a de facto legislative repeal of the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878, the law forbidding the use of the military in domestic law enforcement.

Furthermore, a key component of the NDAA mandates a frightening grant of immense and unconstitutional power to the executive branch. Under the provisions of Section 1021, the president is afforded the absolute power to arrest and detain citizens of the United States without their being informed of any criminal charges, without a trial on the merits of those charges, and without a scintilla of the due process safeguards protected by the Constitution of the United States.

Further, in order to execute the provisions of Section 1021 described in the previous paragraph, subsequent clauses (Section 1022, for example) unlawfully give the president the absolute and unquestionable authority to deploy the armed forces of the United States to apprehend and to indefinitely detain those suspected of threatening the security of the “homeland.” In the language of this legislation, these people are called “covered persons.”

The universe of potential “covered persons” includes every citizen of the United States of America. Any American could one day find himself or herself branded a “belligerent” and thus subject to the complete confiscation of his or her constitutional civil liberties and nearly never-ending incarceration in a military prison.

On the face of the bill, it would seem that Assemblyman Donnelly and the members of the Public Safety Committee are determined to protect their citizens from being seized and imprisoned under the provisions of the NDAA.

While AB 351, as well as Section 1029 of the current version of the NDAA purport to buttress the right to a trial for citizens and permanent residents, it does nothing to prevent their apprehension. Denial of habeas corpus (or a trial) comes later; it is the delirium, not the fever, in a manner of speaking.

Put simply, Californians would not need to worry about being held without charge if the president was not authorized in the same act to deploy the armed forces to round up the “suspects” and detain them indefinitely. Being apprised of the laws one is accused of having violated is important, but it’s the detention and the manner of it that must be of more immediate concern to those who are alarmed about the new world order being defined by the NDAA.

Although the bill has flaws and it could do with some textual tightening and constitutional correction, California’s effort to nullify an unconstitutional federal act is laudable and is an example of the last, great means by which the federal beast may be forced back inside its constitutional cage.

Nullification occurs when a state holds as null, void, and of no legal effect any act of the federal government that exceeds the boundaries of its constitutional powers.

Nullification recognizes that states possess the right to invalidate any federal measure that exceeds the few and defined powers allowed the federal government as enumerated in the U.S. Constitution.

States retain the right to act as arbiters of constitutionality of federal acts because they formed the union, and as creators of the compact, they hold ultimate authority as to the limits of the power of the central government to enact laws that are applicable to the states and the citizens thereof.

Despite criticism by those who advocate for a more powerful federal government, nullification would not lead to anarchy, as it is only the unconstitutional federal acts that will be subject to state invalidation.

In an article published earlier this year, this reporter applied an analogy from everyday that makes the practice of nullification easier to understand.

Imagine that a person entered into a contract with a homebuilder to construct a new home. The blueprints contained the agreed upon specifications of the house and the contract set out the duties and obligations of the homeowner and the homebuilder.

As long as both parties abide by the terms of the contract, the relationship will continue on as set forth in the contract. What would happen, however, if the homebuilder decides to exceed the scope of the contract and begins digging a pool? On a visit to the construction site, the homeowner notices the pool and confronts the contractor. When the homebuilder hands his client the bill for the cost of the pool, would the homeowner be required to pay for it?

Absolutely not.

However, when it comes to the bills sent to the states by the federal government demanding payment for unconstitutional acts, for some reason the states forget the contract and pay the bills, and now they are going broke.

As Congress continues to surrender to the president all legislative, executive, and judicial power, the need for nullification is urgent, and liberty-minded citizens are encouraged to see state legislators boldly asserting their right to restrain the federal government through application of that very powerful and very constitutional principle.

Citizens of California committed to the restoration of the Constitution and the fundamental principles of individual liberty upon which it is built should contact members of the state Senate Appropriations Committee and encourage them to approve AB 351.

President Obama Sending Drones All Around the Globe

July 31, 2013

From The New American by Joe Wolverton, II, J.D., July 30, 2013

The “next phase of drone warfare” will extend “far beyond traditional, declared combat zones,” the Washington Post reports.

Africa, according to the report filed July 20, will see an enormous increase in the sorties of unmanned aerial vehicles remotely piloted by U.S. airmen. The commander of U.S. forces in Africa has purportedly requested a “15-fold increase in surveillance, reconnaissance and intelligence-gathering on the continent.”

President Obama Sending Drones All Around the Globe

Drone bases are going up all over Africa, so the multiplicity of missions will be easily accommodated. As the Post points out:

In Africa, the U.S. Air Force began flying unarmed drones over the Sahara five months ago to track al-Qaeda fighters and rebels in northern Mali. The Pentagon has also set up drone bases in Ethiopia, Djibouti and Seychelles.

Since being elected in 2008, Barack Obama has rapidly ramped up the drone war. Despite repeated promises to protect the rule of law and guarantee due process, the Nobel Peace Prize winner has overseen the death of thousands by drone strike. Not a single victim has ever been accused of any crime or allowed to answer those charges before an impartial judge — rights guaranteed to all persons by the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution.

To date, there have been more than 80,000 such missions flown in the Middle East and elsewhere.

This global expansion of the drone war seems to contradict President Obama’s statement made at the United Nations in 2011 that the “tide of war is receding.”

Not only will Africa “benefit” from the president’s apparent amnesia, but the Post story reports that Asia, the Pacific, and Colombia will all soon be receiving Reapers to aid in the “War on Terror,” and, in the case of Colombia, the equally feckless, futile, and unconstitutional War on Drugs.

This commitment to covert killing is more than a waste of resources, however. The death toll climbs, but even President Obama — the Kaiser of the Kill List — has no idea how many assassinations he has approved.

The uncertainty as to the number of innocent people murdered by U.S. drone attacks and discounted as acceptable collateral damage only cements the certainty of the fact that under President Obama, the United States maintains two kill lists from which targets are selected for summary execution at the hands of agents of our government. And they don’t bother counting the corpses.

Beyond the headlines, one of the most disturbing and damning accounts of the effect of the Obama administration’s drone war on the civilian population of Pakistan — the most frequent target of the attacks — was highlighted recently by The New American.

The report entitled “Living Under Drones: Death, Injury and Trauma to Civilians From US Drone Practices in Pakistan” was co-authored by the law schools of Stanford and New York Universities and contains on-the-ground accounts of the myriad ways that President Obama’s drone-delivered program of assassination is devastating the lives of ordinary Pakistanis who have no connection to terror other than the fact that they are being constantly terrorized by the government of the United States.

Glen Greenwald of the Guardian (U.K.) artfully describes the situation on the ground in Pakistan:

The people in the areas targeted by Obama’s drone campaign are being systematically terrorized. There’s just no other word for it. It is a campaign of terror — highly effective terror — regardless of what noble progressive sentiments one wishes to believe reside in the heart of the leader ordering it. And that’s precisely why the report, to its great credit, uses that term to describe the Obama policy: the drone campaign “terrorizes men, women, and children.”

Twenty-seven pages of the 182-page document are devoted to enumerating the various ways the use of drones in the White House and CIA’s targeted killing programs are rattling the already war-ravaged psyches of the civilian population of Pakistan.

For example, in the subsection entitled “Mental Health Impacts of Drone Strikes and the Presence of Drones,” the authors relate the story of two-time Pulitzer Prize winning reporter David Rohde who was kidnapped in November 2008 and held for seven months by the Taliban while covering Afghanistan and Pakistan for the New York Times in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of northwest Pakistan. Rohde’s story as quoted in the drone report: “The drones were terrifying. From the ground, it is impossible to determine who or what they are tracking as they circle overhead. The buzz of a distant propeller is a constant reminder of imminent death.” Describing the experience of living under drones as “hell on earth,” Rohde explained that even in the areas where strikes were less frequent, the people living there still feared for their lives.

Many in the United States may discount the importance of such a story, pointing out that such an existence is the price of harboring terrorists and those intent on threatening the national security of the United States.

One wonders if that attitude will change in the next couple of years when 30,000 drones fill the skies of the United States. Will we come to know the ever-present sound of a “distant propeller” stirring up the otherwise placid domestic skies with the inimitable buzz of imminent death? Will we live in constant fear of “when is the next drone attack going to happen” as one mental health professional hears daily from the men and women of Waziristan?

One of the most horrifying tactics reportedly used by the United States in the prosecution of the death-by-drone program is the so-called “double tap.” The Stanford/NYU report brought this to light and an article in the Daily Mail (U.K.) accurately summarized the practice: “A drone fires one missile — and then a second as rescuers try to drag victims from the rubble. One aid agency said they had a six-hour delay before going to the scene.” According to the story this insupportable and inhumane tactic is resulting in the death of “49 people for every one known terrorist in Pakistan.”

Often, the story is reported, surviving relatives of those killed by the drone assaults are denied the opportunity to bury their dead and perform the ancient rites associated with placing a body in its final resting place. One man severely injured in a drone attack reports that “people are reluctant to go to the funerals of people who have been killed in drone strikes because they are afraid of being targeted.”

Page 92 of the document recounts interviews of several Pakistanis who were intentionally targeted by the Hellfire missiles fired at funerals. The grief experienced and related by these men is evident, heart-wrenching, and demoralizing.

One man who lost several relatives in a drone strike tells how the dead from that strike were buried: “They held a funeral for everybody, in the same location, one by one. Their bodies were scattered into tiny pieces. They … couldn’t be identified,” said Massod Afwan.

Is this the sort of behavior that qualifies the area and the attendants to be lit up by a “signature strike” — a strike based not on suspicion of guilt, but of a “pattern of behavior”?

To put it another way, if your uncle, a notorious and despicable mobster, was laid to rest and you attend his funeral, would it be lawful for the FBI to shoot you (and any other members of your family at the gravesite) on the spot for displaying behavior indicative of affiliation with the Mafia or associated forces?

As the president and his spokesmen have made clear for years, the world is now a battlefield and the Washington Post story indicates that drones — the White House’s weapon of choice — will soften the beach for the opening of new theaters of military operations around the world.

Dennis Farina, Police Officer Turned Actor, Laid to Rest

July 31, 2013

From The Chicage Sun-Times by TINA SFONDELES Staff Reporter, July 30, 2013

Chicago native Dennis Farina — the cop-turned-actor — never let fame go to his head, a close friend said Tuesday at his funeral.

Story Image

Chicago Police Sgt. Greg Reynolds prepares to drive the 1972 Dodge Chicago Police squad car in Dennis Farina’s funeral cortege. MICHAEL SNEED/SUN-TIMES

“He was a star and he went to Hollywood, but he never went Hollywood,” the Rev. Tom Nangle, a retired Chicago Police chaplain, told hundreds of mourners at Assumption Catholic Church. “He always kept his Chicago way, in his way of speaking, and when it came to his behavior.”

Pallbearers guide casket actor ex-Chicago cop Dennis FarinTuesday morning outside AssumptiCatholic Church Chicago. Farindied last week 69.  |

Pallbearers guide the casket of actor and former Chicago Police Officer Dennis Farina Tuesday morning outside Assumption Catholic Church in Chicago. Farina died last week at 69. | Michael R. Schmidt~For Sun-Times Media

The former police detective, U.S. Army veteran and actor died in Arizona at 69 last week from a blood clot in his lung.

Farina’s no-frills, simple funeral Mass was a reflection of him, a man who stuck to his ways even when fame and money came knocking.

Nangle, the only speaker at the funeral, described Farina as “unfailingly gracious, polite and generous.”

He spoke highly of his years in the police department, where his natural talents shined through.

HOW AMERICA IS BECOMING A POLICE STATE

July 31, 2013

From Whistleblower Magazine, March 2013

News reports that the federal Department of Homeland Security is stockpiling billions of rounds of ammunition have prompted many Americans to ask: Just who is the government preparing to go to war with?

To radio talker Mark Levin, the answer is that “our society is unraveling” and DHS is preparing for “the collapse of our financial system, the collapse of our society and the potential for widespread violence, looting, killing in the streets, because that’s what happens when an economy collapses.” Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin agrees, saying, “We’re going to default eventually and that’s why the feds are stockpiling bullets in case of civil unrest.”

But all this, dire as it sounds, is just the tip of the iceberg. As WND’s acclaimed monthly Whistleblower magazine documents in its March issue, “HOW AMERICA IS BECOMING A POLICE STATE,” one major way Barack Obama’s “fundamental transformation of America” is manifesting in the changing face of law enforcement – local and state, but especially federal.

The signs are everywhere:

Drones are flying overhead – not in Yemen, but here in the U.S., above your house, perhaps photographing you. The FAA anticipates 10,000 domestic drones in the next few years, and at least one police chief has publicly announced he wants to arm his drones with tear gas and rubber bullets.

Meanwhile, the Transportation Security Administration, having traumatized countless air travelers with its signature nude X-ray imaging and invasive pat-downs of ailing grandmothers and crying 3-year-old handicapped children in wheelchairs, is now expanding from airports to bus terminals and subways.

Even local police forces increasingly resemble an occupying army, especially in the big cities – thanks in part to a federal program that supplies police departments with military equipment, everything from surveillance drones to machine-gun-equipped armored personnel carriers.

Although few Americans realize it, police have already gone door to door and confiscated citizens’ legally owned firearms (in New Orleans after Katrina), and right now politicians in certain areas are trying to pass legislation to make gun confiscation official policy – but only in the event of an “emergency,” of course.

Highlights of “HOW AMERICA IS BECOMING A POLICE STATE” include:

  • “Cops and robbers: The problems of policing America when the federal government is the biggest thief” by David Kupelian
  • “Obama’s troubling track record on civil liberties” by John W. Whitehead, who documents how, with each passing year, Americans’ basic freedoms have come under increasing attack under Obama
  • “Why is the government stockpiling guns and ammo?” by Joseph Farah, who revisits Obama’s mysterious call for a “civilian national security force”
  • “Immigration cops: Feds are making us the ‘enemy’” by Taylor Rose
  • “Tanks on Main Street” by John W. Whitehead, on the increasing militarization of local police throughout America
  • “Black helicopters? Army says don’t worry” by Bob Unruh, on the military’s explanation as to why Special Ops units are conducting “urban training” in U.S. cities
  • “Department of Homeland Security urged to patrol Chicago streets”
  • “Sliding toward a police state” by Steven Greenhut, on the consequences of making security more important than freedom since 9/11
  • “TSA expands its invasive grief beyond airports” by Art Moore, on casualties of the federal government’s security scheme, including one father of a crippled 3-year-old who says: “They treated her like a criminal”
  • “States pile on against federal detention plan” by Alyssa Farah, on how the left and right have joined together in opposing the federal law’s “terrifying implications”
  • “Stop it here, stop it now” by Bob Unruh, on Pulitzer-winning commentator Charles Krauthammer’s prediction of “rifles aimed at the sky all across America” in response to domestic surveillance drones
  • “Feds: 10,000 drones to fly the friendly skies”
  • “Is there a drone in your backyard?” by Andrew Napolitano, in which “the judge” warns invasion of privacy is just the beginning
  • Armed domestic drones?!”
  • “It’s official: Obama can bomb you if he thinks you’re a terrorist”
  • “Washington state residents say ‘No!’ to police surveillance drones” by David DiSalvo
  • “Police state – we’re almost there” by Jeff Knox, on how massive raids on a family-owned gun shop illustrate dangers of “standing army” of federal cops
  • “Ready, print, fire” – on how 3-D printing is foiling laws banning high-capacity magazines
  • “Gun-owner home searches ‘Orwellian’” by Art Moore, on the provision of Washington state’s gun control law that would allow police to come into your home to check on your semiautomatic firearms
  • “New Justice Department report concedes gun laws won’t slow crime”
  • “Hundreds of sheriffs tell Obama: We’re not confiscating guns” by Drew Zahn, on law enforcement officials who say, “We are prepared to trade our lives” to defend the Constitution
  • “How Rodney King spawned Christopher Dorner” by Jack Cashill, on what happens when the “mainstream press” constantly pushes the narrative of “evil white racists” oppressing minorities
  • “Immigration ‘reform’ will turn the U.S. into a police state” by Rep. Ron Paul, who says: “Imagine what’s left of the Fourth Amendment completely tossed into the trashcan”
  • “‘Big Brother is watching’ in ways you can’t even imagine” by Steve Elwart, on a new artificial intelligence surveillance system more outlandish than sci-fi scripts.

“It’s not quite accurate to say the Obama administration is trying to disarm Americans,” said Whistleblower Editor David Kupelian. “The government is attempting to progressively disarm one segment of the population – law-abiding, private citizens – while simultaneously arming to the teeth millions of Americans who work for, and are beholden to, government at all levels. This is not exactly what the Founding Fathers had in mind when they gave us the Second Amendment.”

SWAT Teams New Face of Police Agencies

July 31, 2013

Militarization of law enforcement going full steam ahead

From http://www.wnd.com By Jack Minor, July 27, 2013

A key distinction between the U.S. and other nations, even relatively free nations, long has been American restrictions on domestic use of the military, for police actions, law enforcement and keeping things under control.

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However, when the local police officer or sheriff’s deputy is equipped with night vision goggles, laser-scope rifles, electronic eavesdropping equipment and body armor and comes up a citizen’s driveway in a military-type personnel carrier with shielded windows and oversize wheels, the prohibitions seem to lose some of their teeth.

 

It’s an issue on which WND has reported for more than a decade, and others now are taking note.

 

Since 1878, with the passage of the Posse Comitatus Act, it has long been an established legal principle that the federal government is not allowed to use the military to enforce federal or state laws.

n recent years, the law has been modified to allow the president to deploy federal troops to enforce the law. Two of the most notable cases are President Dwight Eisenhower’s decision to send federal troops into Little Rock, Ark., to enforce desegregation and the 1992 Los Angeles riots.

However, while American armed forces may be limited in their ability to enforce the law, the act is essentially being circumvented by militarizing local enforcement, equipping it with some of the same equipment, training and tactics used in war zones.

Radley Balko raised the issue recently a Wall Street Journal article, “Rise of the Warrior Cop.” He says the trend is to erase the line between military and law enforcement.

“Since the 1960s, in response to a range of perceived threats, law-enforcement agencies across the U.S., at every level of government, have been blurring the line between police officer and soldier,” Balko wrote. “Driven by martial rhetoric and the availability of military-style equipment – from bayonets and M-16 rifles to armored personnel carriers – American police forces have often adopted a mindset previously reserved for the battlefield.”

Balko said the “war on drugs and, more recently, post-9/11 antiterrorism efforts have created a new figure on the U.S. scene: the warrior cop – armed to the teeth, ready to deal harshly with targeted wrongdoers, and a growing threat to familiar American liberties.”

The number of local jurisdictions with SWAT teams has increased dramatically in recent years, employed now by the majority of police departments in small and medium-sized cities.

Balko cites surveys by criminologist Peter Kraska of Eastern Kentucky University, who noted that in 1983 just 13 percent of towns between 25,000 and 50,000 people had a SWAT team. However, by 2005 the figure was up to 80 percent.

With the increase in the number of SWAT teams, local police have increasingly used the new technology and training even in cases in which their use is questionable.

The article noted that along with the increase in the number of SWAT teams has come a corresponding increase in raids by the military-style trained officers. In the 1970s there were just a few hundred raids per year, however, in the 1980s the number of raids jumped to 3,000 per year. In 2005, the number is a stratospheric 50,000.

Balko highlighted the case of Matthew Stewart, a U.S. military veteran. Police got a tip he was growing marijuana in his basement. Stewart was awakened when the battering ram knocked down the door and. Thinking he was being attacked by criminals, he picked up a firearm and began shooting before being killed by officers.

After the shooting, police found 16 marijuana plants, and although the plants were illegal, there was no evidence he was selling the drug. Stewart’s father said his son suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and may possibly have used the marijuana to self-medicate.

While many Americans are concerned about the increased firepower possessed by local law enforcement, Balko said the problem is more pervasive than just local police departments, noting that many federal departments now have their own personal SWAT department.

Among the government agencies with their own SWAT teams are the Department of the Interior, NASA and the Fish and Wildlife Service.

Even the Department of Education has its own “special forces” team.

Balko noted the federal department has sent SWAT team members to raid the home of a woman who authorities said was suspected of defrauding the federal student loan program. The raid raised eyebrows because it was it was the first time the public was aware the Education Department possessed such a unit.

Whenever the issue is brought up, officials claim the increased armament and hardware is needed because of threats faced by law enforcement that were not present decades ago. In the 1980s the rationale was the war on drugs, while in recent years it has been preventing domestic terrorist attacks.

However, the data does not back up such claims. The Colorado-based Independence Institute noted in a 1991 study that less than one-eighth of 1 percent of U.S. homicides were committed with military-style weapons. In the years since the 1991 report, additional studies have all reached similar conclusions including one by the Clinton Justice Department in 1995 and the National Institute for Justice in 2004.

While police departments have engaged in military tactics and training for their SWAT teams, they have been frequently limited by law and by finances. However, after the Muslim terrorist attacks on 9/11, the Department of Homeland Security began to offer federal grants to allow local police departments to upgrade their arsenal.

The Center for Investigative Reporting has said that since its inception in 2002, DHS has doled out $35 billion in grants to help militarize police forces with items such as grenade launchers and even armored personnel carriers.

In 1999, WND reported a proposed change in a federal regulation would be going into effect that would allow federal agencies to donate “surplus” firearms to state and local law enforcement entities.

The previous regulation permitted federal agencies to donate or sell trucks, boats, aircraft and even space vehicles to state and local agencies and to individuals. But the federal property management regulations drew a line in the sand when it came to agencies like the Forest Service or FBI transferring actual weapons either by gift or sale.

But under the new regulations, used handguns, rifles, shotguns, individual light automatic weapons up to 50 caliber, and rifle and shoulder-fired grenade launchers up to 75 mm could be transferred to state agencies for donation to state and local public agencies.

In 2011, the Pentagon gave away $500 million in military equipment to help bolster the armories of local law-enforcement.

Earlier this year the American Civil Liberties Union became concerned about the issue, saying in March it was filing a series of open records requests in 25 states and National Guard offices in an attempt to discover the extent to which federal funding have helped local police departments become more militarized.

“Federal funding in the billions of dollars has allowed state and local police departments to gain access to weapons and tactics created for overseas combat theaters – and yet very little is known about exactly how many police departments have military weapons and training, how militarized the police have become, and how extensively federal money is incentivizing this trend,” the ACLU said on its website.

While the issue is now beginning to generate concern over perceived threats to constitutional liberties by the Obama administration in light of the IRS and NSA scandals, WND founder and CEO Joseph Farah began reporting the trend to militarize the police in 1998.

In a column headlined “The cops are out of control,” Farah lamented that while in years past seeing a police officer gave him a sense of security, it was no longer the case because of recent actions by SWAT teams.

“The recent incidents in Oklahoma, where police shot an unarmed mother holding her child in her home, in Virginia, where a SWAT team killed a watchman guarding a dice game at an after-hours club and in California, where a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms raid on a gun shop resulted in the death of the shopkeeper, provide some hard evidence that police in America may be getting out of control,” Farah warned at the time.

He went on to note the danger of police agencies acquiring military gear even back then.

“The biggest danger we face is the federalization and militarization of all law enforcement. Interagency task forces, bringing together local and state police with federal agents are now the rule of the day,” Farah noted. “Federal agencies bribe local cops with funding, equipment and training programs.”

The challenged to the Fourth Amendment generated by the use of SWAT teams and no-knock warrants is likely to continue as a result of a ruling by the Indiana Supreme Court in 2011.

In a 3-2 ruling, the court ruled that there is no right for a private citizen to resist illegal entry by a police officer. The court stated in its ruling “that there is no right to reasonably resist unlawful entry by police officers.”

The case involved Richard Barnes, who faced misdemeanor charges for resisting a police officer who had entered his home without a warrant. According to the ruling, the case began when Barnes got into an argument with his wife, Mary. During the argument Barnes threw a phone against a wall, prompting his wife to call 911. She told the dispatcher that Barnes was throwing things but did not strike her. The call went out as “domestic violence in progress.”

Officer Lenny Reed arrived at the scene and met Richard Barnes outside as he was leaving with luggage. Barnes told the officer he was leaving and raised his voice. Mary Barnes then came out, threw a bag at her husband and told him to get the rest of his stuff.

The couple returned to the apartment and Richard Barnes blocked the officers from entering. Reed attempted to enter the apartment and was thrown against the wall by Barnes. Officers Jason Henry and Reed used a choke hold and Taser to subdue Barnes.

After being found guilty of battery on a police officer, resisting law-enforcement and disorderly conduct, Richard Barnes appealed the ruling. His basis was that the jury had not been given instructions regarding the right of a citizen to reasonably resist entry into his home.

The Indiana Supreme Court, in a stunning conclusion, stated: “This court is faced for the first time with the question of whether Indiana should recognize the common-law right to reasonably resist unlawful entry by police officers.”

“We conclude that public policy disfavors any such right.”

A WND columnist excoriated the ruling, saying, “Our founders, whatever the differences among them, would be enraged” at the notion that private citizens secure in their homes have no right to resist entry by officers without a warrant.

Why Trayvon Martin Is Dead

July 29, 2013

From cedarposts.blogspot.com, July 22, 2013

Trayvon Martin is dead because his parents failed to prepare him for life, and because African Americans are viewed as potential threats by other races, police and society in general.

Trayvon Martin is dead because rather than walk straight to the home where is father was staying was wandering around the streets, and because he was angry and because he thought Zimmerman was a good way to take out his frustration.

Trayvon Martin is dead because he decided to confront and attack the creepy cracker following him.

Trayvon Martin is dead because African Americans have a sense that they are “owed” something by whites and this thinking is learned behavior.

Trayvon Martin is dead because George Zimmerman refused to be a another victim of an attack by an African American thug.

I personally know dozens of people who happen to be black, they are my friends, employees, clients and neighbors. They are not thugs, but they are victims of their own race, of their own color and they are helpless to change the fact that they are often perceived as criminals and threats.

But they are smart enough to throw off the stereotype, they act different, they dress different, they are different. They often go to extremes to present an image that is anti thug, that is anti ghetto rat, and that is law abiding. They have managed to lift themselves above the stereotype.

Are they racially profiled? Every day, by everyone.

Trayvon Martin had a chance to disprove George Zimmerman’s assumption of another thug looking to break in to someone’s home. But he decided to confirm for eternity that he indeed was a thug.

Obama’s America

July 29, 2013

 4 in 5 in US Face Near-Poverty, No Work
Working-class whites are gloomy about future amid rising income gaps, racial shifts

Four out of 5 U.S. adults struggle with joblessness, near-poverty or reliance on welfare for at least parts of their lives, a sign of deteriorating economic security and an elusive American dream.

Survey data exclusive to The Associated Press points to an increasingly globalized U.S. economy, the widening gap between rich and poor, and the loss of good-paying manufacturing jobs as reasons for the trend.

The findings come as President Barack Obama tries to renew his administration’s emphasis on the economy, saying in recent speeches that his highest priority is to “rebuild ladders of opportunity” and reverse income inequality.

As nonwhites approach a numerical majority in the U.S., one question is how public programs to lift the disadvantaged should be best focused — on the affirmative action that historically has tried to eliminate the racial barriers seen as the major impediment to economic equality, or simply on improving socioeconomic status for all, regardless of race.

Hardship is particularly growing among whites, based on several measures. Pessimism among that racial group about their families’ economic futures has climbed to the highest point since at least 1987. In the most recent AP-GfK poll, 63 percent of whites called the economy “poor.”

“I think it’s going to get worse,” said Irene Salyers, 52, of Buchanan County, Va., a declining coal region in Appalachia. Married and divorced three times, Salyers now helps run a fruit and vegetable stand with her boyfriend but it doesn’t generate much income. They live mostly off government disability checks.

“If you do try to go apply for a job, they’re not hiring people, and they’re not paying that much to even go to work,” she said. Children, she said, have “nothing better to do than to get on drugs.”

While racial and ethnic minorities are more likely to live in poverty, race disparities in the poverty rate have narrowed substantially since the 1970s, census data show. Economic insecurity among whites also is more pervasive than is shown in the government’s poverty data, engulfing more than 76 percent of white adults by the time they turn 60, according to a new economic gauge being published next year by the Oxford University Press.

The gauge defines “economic insecurity” as a year or more of periodic joblessness, reliance on government aid such as food stamps or income below 150 percent of the poverty line. Measured across all races, the risk of economic insecurity rises to 79 percent.

Marriage rates are in decline across all races, and the number of white mother-headed households living in poverty has risen to the level of black ones.

“It’s time that America comes to understand that many of the nation’s biggest disparities, from education and life expectancy to poverty, are increasingly due to economic class position,” said William Julius Wilson, a Harvard professor who specializes in race and poverty. He noted that despite continuing economic difficulties, minorities have more optimism about the future after Obama’s election, while struggling whites do not.

“There is the real possibility that white alienation will increase if steps are not taken to highlight and address inequality on a broad front,” Wilson said.

Nationwide, the count of America’s poor remains stuck at a record number: 46.2 million, or 15 percent of the population, due in part to lingering high unemployment following the recession. While poverty rates for blacks and Hispanics are nearly three times higher, by absolute numbers the predominant face of the poor is white.

More than 19 million whites fall below the poverty line of $23,021 for a family of four, accounting for more than 41 percent of the nation’s destitute, nearly double the number of poor blacks.

Sometimes termed “the invisible poor” by demographers, lower-income whites generally are dispersed in suburbs as well as small rural towns, where more than 60 percent of the poor are white. Concentrated in Appalachia in the East, they are numerous in the industrial Midwest and spread across America’s heartland, from Missouri, Arkansas and Oklahoma up through the Great Plains.

Buchanan County, in southwest Virginia, is among the nation’s most destitute based on median income, with poverty hovering at 24 percent. The county is mostly white, as are 99 percent of its poor.

More than 90 percent of Buchanan County’s inhabitants are working-class whites who lack a college degree. Higher education long has been seen there as nonessential to land a job because well-paying mining and related jobs were once in plentiful supply. These days many residents get by on odd jobs and government checks.

Salyers’ daughter, Renee Adams, 28, who grew up in the region, has two children. A jobless single mother, she relies on her live-in boyfriend’s disability checks to get by. Salyers says it was tough raising her own children as it is for her daughter now, and doesn’t even try to speculate what awaits her grandchildren, ages 4 and 5.

Smoking a cigarette in front of the produce stand, Adams later expresses a wish that employers will look past her conviction a few years ago for distributing prescription painkillers, so she can get a job and have money to “buy the kids everything they need.”

“It’s pretty hard,” she said. “Once the bills are paid, we might have $10 to our name.”

Census figures provide an official measure of poverty, but they’re only a temporary snapshot that doesn’t capture the makeup of those who cycle in and out of poverty at different points in their lives. They may be suburbanites, for example, or the working poor or the laid off.

In 2011 that snapshot showed 12.6 percent of adults in their prime working-age years of 25-60 lived in poverty. But measured in terms of a person’s lifetime risk, a much higher number — 4 in 10 adults — falls into poverty for at least a year of their lives.

The risks of poverty also have been increasing in recent decades, particularly among people ages 35-55, coinciding with widening income inequality. For instance, people ages 35-45 had a 17 percent risk of encountering poverty during the 1969-1989 time period; that risk increased to 23 percent during the 1989-2009 period. For those ages 45-55, the risk of poverty jumped from 11.8 percent to 17.7 percent.

Higher recent rates of unemployment mean the lifetime risk of experiencing economic insecurity now runs even higher: 79 percent, or 4 in 5 adults, by the time they turn 60.

By race, nonwhites still have a higher risk of being economically insecure, at 90 percent. But compared with the official poverty rate, some of the biggest jumps under the newer measure are among whites, with more than 76 percent enduring periods of joblessness, life on welfare or near-poverty.

By 2030, based on the current trend of widening income inequality, close to 85 percent of all working-age adults in the U.S. will experience bouts of economic insecurity.

“Poverty is no longer an issue of ‘them’, it’s an issue of ‘us’,” says Mark Rank, a professor at Washington University in St. Louis who calculated the numbers. “Only when poverty is thought of as a mainstream event, rather than a fringe experience that just affects blacks and Hispanics, can we really begin to build broader support for programs that lift people in need.”

The numbers come from Rank’s analysis being published by the Oxford University Press. They are supplemented with interviews and figures provided to the AP by Tom Hirschl, a professor at Cornell University; John Iceland, a sociology professor at Penn State University; the University of New Hampshire’s Carsey Institute; the Census Bureau; and the Population Reference Bureau.

Among the findings:

—For the first time since 1975, the number of white single-mother households living in poverty with children surpassed or equaled black ones in the past decade, spurred by job losses and faster rates of out-of-wedlock births among whites. White single-mother families in poverty stood at nearly 1.5 million in 2011, comparable to the number for blacks. Hispanic single-mother families in poverty trailed at 1.2 million.

—Since 2000, the poverty rate among working-class whites has grown faster than among working-class nonwhites, rising 3 percentage points to 11 percent as the recession took a bigger toll among lower-wage workers. Still, poverty among working-class nonwhites remains higher, at 23 percent.

—The share of children living in high-poverty neighborhoods — those with poverty rates of 30 percent or more — has increased to 1 in 10, putting them at higher risk of teenage pregnancy or dropping out of school. Non-Hispanic whites accounted for 17 percent of the child population in such neighborhoods, compared with 13 percent in 2000, even though the overall proportion of white children in the U.S. has been declining.

The share of black children in high-poverty neighborhoods dropped from 43 percent to 37 percent, while the share of Latino children went from 38 percent to 39 percent.

—Race disparities in health and education have narrowed generally since the 1960s. While residential segregation remains high, a typical black person now lives in a non-majority black neighborhood for the first time. Previous studies have shown that wealth is a greater predictor of standardized test scores than race; the test-score gap between rich and low-income students is now nearly double the gap between blacks and whites.

Going back to the 1980s, never have whites been so pessimistic about their futures, according to the General Social Survey, a biannual survey conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago. Just 45 percent say their family will have a good chance of improving their economic position based on the way things are in America.

The divide is especially evident among those whites who self-identify as working class. Forty-nine percent say they think their children will do better than them, compared with 67 percent of nonwhites who consider themselves working class, even though the economic plight of minorities tends to be worse.

Although they are a shrinking group, working-class whites — defined as those lacking a college degree — remain the biggest demographic bloc of the working-age population. In 2012, Election Day exit polls conducted for the AP and the television networks showed working-class whites made up 36 percent of the electorate, even with a notable drop in white voter turnout.

Last November, Obama won the votes of just 36 percent of those noncollege whites, the worst performance of any Democratic nominee among that group since Republican Ronald Reagan’s 1984 landslide victory over Walter Mondale.

Some Democratic analysts have urged renewed efforts to bring working-class whites into the political fold, calling them a potential “decisive swing voter group” if minority and youth turnout level off in future elections. “In 2016 GOP messaging will be far more focused on expressing concern for ‘the middle class’ and ‘average Americans,'” Andrew Levison and Ruy Teixeira wrote recently in The New Republic.

“They don’t trust big government, but it doesn’t mean they want no government,” says Republican pollster Ed Goeas, who agrees that working-class whites will remain an important electoral group. His research found that many of them would support anti-poverty programs if focused broadly on job training and infrastructure investment. This past week, Obama pledged anew to help manufacturers bring jobs back to America and to create jobs in the energy sectors of wind, solar and natural gas.

“They feel that politicians are giving attention to other people and not them,” Goeas said.

AP Director of Polling Jennifer Agiesta, News Survey Specialist Dennis Junius and AP writer Debra McCown in Buchanan County, Va., contributed to this report.

Family of Murdered Border Patrol Agent: Nothing ‘Phony’ About Deaths Linked to Fast and Furious

July 28, 2013

From townhall.com by Katie Pavlich, July 26, 2013

Wednesday during a speech at Knox College in Illinois, President Obama referred to the many scandals surrounding his White House as “phony.” Obama’s comments came just hours after White House Press Secretary Jay Carney referred to the scandals as phony on MSNBC and said Republicans have gone too far in their efforts to investigate them.

“With an endless parade of distractions, political posturing and phony scandals, Washington has taken its eye off the ball,” Obama said.

In response to the comments, the family of murdered Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry is reminding President Obama that the hundreds of deaths linked to Operation Fast and Furious are far from phony. Guns trafficked during the operation were found at Terry’s murder scene in December 2010.

“These deaths are real. My son’s death was real. I am outraged that President Obama is talking about phony scandals when he knows all too well that my son was a victim of Operation Fast and Furious that was authorized by members of his Justice Department and a U.S. Attorney that he appointed. Operation Fast and Furious was all too real for me and my family, and it directly contributed to my son’s murder,” Josephine Terry, the mother of Brian Terry said in a statement. “Mr. President, come to Michigan and I will show you my son’s grave…then let’s have a conversation about your definition of phony scandals.”

The Terry family has been begging for answers and accountability from the Department of Justice for years. They have received deception and lies in return.

“The entire Terry family has experienced a level of ‘trust deficit’ in their government and its leaders since Brian was killed.  It hurts to be treated like this and just adds insult to injury when the President speaks of phony scandals and minimizes the efforts of those officials tasked to investigate these matters,” Brian’s uncle and President of the Brian Terry Foundation Ralph Terry said in a statement.

Just last week, Senator Chuck Grassley sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder about his Department’s failure to inform his office of new deaths linked to Operation Fast and Furious. The inquiry came after news broke that a Mexican police chief was killed with Fast and Furious weapons. Since Fast and Furious began in September 2009, hundreds of Mexican citizens have been killed. Terry was killed while on duty just days before Christmas. President Obama asserted executive privilege over Fast and Furious documents in June 2012 minutes before Attorney General Eric Holder was voted in contempt by the House Oversight Committee.