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Feds slap Zions over billions in illegal money transfers Two federal agencies have slapped Zions Bank with multimillion-dollar civil penalties for failing to monitor suspicious wire transfers of billions of dollars related to transactions that may have involved drug trafficking and other crimes.
The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency on Friday said it imposed an $8 million penalty against Zions for shortcomings in its anti-money laundering controls — violations of the Bank Secrecy Act and the USA Patriot Act.
The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network — a Treasury Department agency involved in fighting money laundering — also fined Salt Lake City-based Zions $8 million but said the government would be satisfied by a single payment of $8 million.
“The bank is supposed to file suspicious activity reports if they find suspicious activity, and the bank failed to file those on a timely basis,” OCC spokesman Dick DeBuck said.
“The regulations also require the bank to monitor this wire activity, and the bank did not do that, either.” (The Salt Lake Tribune)
Happy toking: Strong majorities for drug reform (The Economist/YouGov poll) THIS week’s Economist-YouGov poll contains some exciting news for devotees of the weed. A huge majority of Americans, more than two to one once don’t knows have been excluded, support the legalisation and taxation of marijuana. Even without excluding the don’t knows, a clear majority favours treating the drug equivalently to tobacco and alcohol.
The data (see chart) reveal some interesting patterns. In every age group, more people favour than oppose legalisation. Predictably enough, the young are very strongly in favour, but babyboomers are almost as strongly so; and even those over 65 are narrowly in favour as well. Breaking the poll down by party, one finds that Republicans as well as Democrats are in favour, though the former much more narrowly so. (The Economist)
Patriot Act Extension Fails, Splitting Tea Party Republicans The Patriot Act took a temporary hit Tuesday night when the House failed to muster a two-thirds majority to extend three provisions of the law under special fast-track rules. It’s a temporary setback for the bill, which is expected to easily pass in a few days under regular rules. And it’s a kick in the teeth to the newly-minted GOP leadership, which missed what should have been a lay-up.
Most Democrats voted against the extension (which the White House supports) and were joined by 26 Republicans. What I find interesting is the fault line this vote reveals among Tea Party GOPers.
Slate’s Dave Weigel breaks out the list of GOP defectors, which includes eight freshmen elected under the Tea Party banner and three more veteran lawmakers who were inaugural members of the Tea Party caucus last year. But, he notes, high profile Tea Partyers like Michele Bachmann (who founded the Tea Party caucus after all), Kristi Noem, and Allen West all voted for the extension. “I break this out because there'll be a temptation to say ‘the Tea Party and its isolationist elements beat the reauthorization,’ and that's not quite it,” he writes. (US News & World Report)
Patriot Act extension fails in the House by seven votes House Republicans suffered an embarrassing setback Tuesday when they fell seven votes short of extending provisions of the Patriot Act, a vote that served as the first small uprising of the party's tea-party bloc.
The bill to reauthorize key parts of the counter-terrorism surveillance law, which expire at the end of the month, required a super-majority to pass under special rules reserved for non-controversial measures.
But it fell short of the required two-thirds after 26 Republicans bucked their leadership, eight of them freshman lawmakers elected in November's midterm elections. With most Democrats opposing the extension, the final tally was 277 members in favor of extension, and 148 opposed. (Washington Post)
What is a 'Presidential Alert'? "This is a test of the Emergency Alert System. This is only a test..."
You've heard that warning before, but it may soon come directly from the White House.
The Federal Communications Commission has approved plans to hold the first test of a "Presidential Alert," or a broadcast warning that might be issued in the event of a serious natural disaster or terrorism threat.
It may seem like a scene out of George Orwell's "1984" or some other apocalyptic Hollywood blockbuster, but government officials have wanted for years to establish a way for the White House to quickly, directly alert Americans of impending danger.
Commissioners voted last week to require television and radio stations, cable systems and satellite TV providers to participate in a test that would have them receive and transmit a live code that includes an alert message issued by the president. No date has been set for the test. (Washington Post)
Magnetic Polar Shifts Causing Massive Global Superstorms: Superstorms can also cause certain societies, cultures or whole countries to collapse. Others may go to war with each other. NASA has been warning about it…scientific papers have been written about it…geologists have seen its traces in rock strata and ice core samples…
Now "it" is here: an unstoppable magnetic pole shift that has sped up and is causing life-threatening havoc with the world's weather.
Forget about global warming—man-made or natural—what drives planetary weather patterns is the climate and what drives the climate is the sun's magnetosphere and its electromagnetic interaction with a planet's own magnetic field.
When the field shifts, when it fluctuates, when it goes into flux and begins to become unstable anything can happen. And what normally happens is that all hell breaks loose.
Magnetic polar shifts have occurred many times in Earth's history. It's happening again now to every planet in the solar system including Earth.
The magnetic field drives weather to a significant degree and when that field starts migrating superstorms start erupting.
The superstorms have arrived
The first evidence we have that the dangerous superstorm cycle has started is the devastating series of storms that pounded the UK during late 2010. (Salem News)
All-Time Record: Wall Street Compensation Hits $135 Billion Wall Street was on the ropes just 25 months ago. Citigroup, Merrill Lynch, Lehman Bros., Bank of America, Wachovia, maybe Morgan Stanley; Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan Chase were wounded. GE could not role over its commercial paper. European banks required cash infusions from our central bank.
Just in the wake of a report highlighting Wall Street’s narrow, selfish imbecilities, we are treated to the stunning realization that the captains of the sinking liner are today enjoying the all-time record payoff for surviving with massive transfusions. The payout of $135 billion to employees of Wall Street firms in 2010 is equivalent to the total market value of both Bank of America and Citigroup. Imagine– in two years. (Forbes)
Iceland Shows Ireland Did 'Wrong Things' Saving Banks On his second day as head of Iceland’s third-largest bank, Arni Tomasson faced a crisis: The firm he had been asked by regulators to run was out of cash.
It was Oct. 8, 2008, at the height of the global financial meltdown, and Iceland's bank assets in the U.K. had been frozen, Bloomberg Markets magazine reports in its March issue. Customers flocked to branches of Tomasson's Glitnir Banki hf to withdraw money, even though the government had guaranteed their deposits. By the end of the day, the vaults were empty, says Tomasson, recalling the drama two years later.
The only way Glitnir and other lenders could avoid a panic the next morning was to get more cash, which they were having trouble doing. A container of crisp kronur sat on the tarmac at Reykjavik's airport awaiting payment, Tomasson says. The British company that printed the bills, De La Rue Plc, was demanding sterling, and the central bank couldn't access its U.K. account.
"Everybody was panicked -- depositors, creditors, banks around the world," Tomasson says. "The effort by all of us at the time was to make sure life could go on as normal." (Bloomberg)
Public Funding of Presidential Elections
Published in August 1996 (updated February 2011)
What is Public Funding?
When and How Did it Begin?
How Does Public Funding Work?
Primary Matching Funds
General Election Funding
Expenditure Limits for Publicly Funded Candidates
What is the FEC's Role?
Eligibility for Public Funds
Repayments of Public Funds
How Can I Support My Candidate?
How Can I Obtain Copies of Reports?
How Can I Get More Information?
(Federal Election Commission)
Clinton Ambassador Meeting: Unprecedented Mass Meeting Of Top Envoys Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is convening an unprecedented mass meeting of U.S. ambassadors.
The top envoys from nearly all of America's 260 embassies, consulates and other posts in more than 180 countries will be gathering at the State Department beginning on Monday. Officials say it's the first such global conference.
The gathering comes at a time of crisis in Egypt that could reshape dynamics in the Middle East, fallout from leaked diplomatic documents and congressional calls for sweeping cuts in foreign aid. (Associated Press)
Egypt's Web blockade raises concerns about 'kill switch' for Internet The news of Egypt's crackdown on Web access is raising new concerns over a comprehensive cybersecurity bill that critics claim gives the president a "kill switch" for the Internet.
Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) recently indicated they plan to re-introduce their bipartisan legislation, which passed the Senate Homeland Security Committee last year only to get mired in a standoff with Senate Commerce Committee members over which panel should have oversight of civilian cybersecurity.
Civil rights advocates such as the ACLU also raised concerns about the bill, which they claim gives the president the ability to shut down the Web in the event of a catastrophic cyber-attack.
Specifically, observers are concerned the new version of the bill will reportedly not allow for judicial review when the administration shuts down a network under attack. - Collins has bristled at that characterization, pointing out that the White House has indicated they already have the authority to shut down portions of the private-sector Web in the event of a national security emergency under a little-used provision of the Communications Act passed one month after the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor.
A Senate aide also pointed out that the infrastructure of the U.S.-based Web is designed in such a fashion that no single "kill switch" to take down the entire network exists. Instead, a fiber-optic backbone connects servers in several geographically diverse locations to ensure continuity even in the event of an attack. (The Hill)
Rahm's Back In The Running For Chicago Mayor Host Scott Simon talks to Carol Marin, political columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times and political editor for NBC 5 News, about the Illinois Supreme Court ruling that put former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel back of the ballot in the Chicago mayor's race. - Rahm Emanuel's name is back on the ballot, this time for good. The Illinois Supreme Court on Thursday unanimously overturned an appellate court ruling that Mr. Emanuel did not meet the Chicago's residency requirements to run for mayor, because he had lived in Washington D.C. while serving as President Obama's chief of staff and hadnt returned to reside in Chicago long enough before he started to run.
Got that? What an eventful week, that began with the ruling that knocked Mr. Emanuel off the ballot, the decision that put him back on and a debate of the mayoral candidates. (National Public Radio)
House votes for repeal of public-paid campaigns: Lawmakers say system is broken Saying it has become an obsolete waste of money, the House on Wednesday voted to end the taxpayer-funded presidential campaign finance system that has fallen out of favor over the past decade as candidates have chosen to ignore it.
The bill steps back from the 1970s-era dream of publicly financed campaigns. More than $600 million could be saved over the next decade by ending the system that channels taxpayer dollars to presidential candidates who agree to abide by fundraising and spending limits.
Republicans said the 239-160 vote was just a recognition of how broken the system has become, particularly after Barack Obama reversed a campaign pledge and opted out of the primary and general election matching funds in 2008.
“It was President Obama who killed it and made a mockery of public financing of campaigns,” said Rep. Aaron Schock, Illinois Republican.
Despite his decision to opt out in 2008, Mr. Obama on Tuesday announced that he opposed the Republicans’ bill. He said the system should be fixed rather than ended, and predicted that corruption would grow with the end of publicly financed presidential campaigns. (Washington Times)
Left, right gear up for campaign-finance clash before 2012 elections Liberals and conservatives alike are gearing up for battles over campaign financing rules in anticipation of the 2012 election, which will decide control of the White House and Congress.
Liberal groups want to impose disclosure rules on shadowy political advocacy groups that raised and spent tens of millions of dollars in corporate contributions on the 2010 midterm elections. (The Hill)
Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, 558 U.S. 08-205 (2010), was a landmark decision by the United States Supreme Court holding that corporate funding of independent political broadcasts in candidate elections cannot be limited—because of the First Amendment. The 5–4 decision, in favor of Citizens United, resulted from a dispute over whether the non-profit corporation Citizens United could air a film critical of Hillary Clinton, and whether the group could advertise the film in broadcast ads featuring Clinton's image, in apparent violation of the 2002 Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act, commonly known as the McCain–Feingold Act.
The decision reached the Supreme Court on appeal from a January 2008 decision by the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. The lower court decision upheld provisions of the McCain–Feingold Act which prevented the film Hillary: The Movie from being shown on television within 30 days of 2008 Democratic primaries.
The Court struck down a provision of the McCain–Feingold Act that prohibited all corporations, both for-profit and not-for-profit, and unions from broadcasting “electioneering communications.” An "electioneering communication" was defined in McCain–Feingold as a broadcast, cable, or satellite communication that mentioned a candidate within 60 days of a general election or thirty days of a primary. The decision overruled Austin v. Michigan Chamber of Commerce (1990) and partially overruled McConnell v. Federal Election Commission (2003). McCain–Feingold had previously been weakened, without overruling McConnell, in Federal Election Commission v. Wisconsin Right to Life, Inc. (2007). The Court did uphold requirements for disclaimer and disclosure by sponsors of advertisements. The case did not involve the federal ban on direct contributions from corporations or unions to candidate campaigns or political parties. (Wikipedia)
Did The Sun Rise 2 Days Early In Greenland? Global Warming May Be Cause Vampires aren't the only ones who worry about the sun rising. After living in complete darkness for a chunk of winter, one might think Greenland citizens would be happy to finally see sunlight. But instead, the first sight of sun sent residents of Ilulissat, a town on the western coast, into a panic, with good reason -- the sun supposedly rose two days early.
According to LiveScience, Ilulissat is about three degrees north of the Arctic Circle -- where the sun doesn't set during summer solstice, and the sun doesn't rise on winter solstice. In other words, people living near this region experience winters without any sunlight. Ilulissat normally sees its first sunrise on January 13th -- this year, the sun allegedly rose on January 11th instead. (Huffington Post)
Southampton's fluoridation decision 'unlawful' A health authority tried to illegally force the fluoridation of Southampton's water, the High Court has heard.
Resident Geraldine Milner is taking legal action to challenge the decision made in 2009 by the South Central Strategic Health Authority (SCSHA).
The SCSHA, which believes the move will improve dental health, gave the go-ahead despite a public consultation showing 72% opposed the idea.
The judicial review will decide if SCSHA properly considered the views.
Ms Milner's counsel David Wolfe told a judge that, if the scheme goes ahead, the mother of three teenagers would be left "with no choice but to drink water to which fluoride has been added".
As opponents of fluoridation demonstrated outside the Royal Courts of Justice in London, Mr Wolfe said approximately 195,000 people in Southampton and parts of south-west Hampshire "would have fluoride added to their water whether they liked it or not". (BBC)
keywords: David Wolfe, Fluoride, Geraldine Milner, South Central Strategic Health Authority, UK Royal Courts Of Justice, United Kingdom
The Fourth American Revolution The next Fourth Turning is due to begin shortly after the new millennium, midway through the Oh-Oh decade. Around the year 2005, a sudden spark will catalyze a Crisis mood. Remnants of the old social order will disintegrate. Political and economic trust will implode. Real hardship will beset the land, with severe distress that could involve questions of class, race, nation and empire. The very survival of the nation will feel at stake. Sometime before the year 2025, America will pass through a great gate in history, commensurate with the American Revolution, Civil War, and twin emergencies of the Great Depression and World War II. -- The Fourth Turning -- Strauss & Howe --1997 (The Burning Platform)
Reversing 'Citizens United' It will be a year this week since Chief Justice John Roberts and his conservative activist colleagues on the Supreme Court joined together in a dramatic assault on American democracy. Their decision in the Citizens United case overturned more than a century's worth of precedent by awarding corporations the rights of citizens with regard to electioneering. The court did away with limits on when corporations can spend on elections, how much they can spend and how they can spend their money, allowing unlimited contributions from corporate treasuries to flood the electoral landscape.
As The Nation noted in the days after the case was decided, "This decision tips the balance against active citizenship and the rule of law by making it possible for the nation's most powerful economic interests to manipulate not just individual politicians and electoral contests but political discourse itself."
According to Bill de Blasio, New York City's public advocate, Citizens United spending - that is, spending that was only made possible by the court's ruling - accounted for 15 percent of the roughly $4 billion spent on the 2010 midterm elections. Eighty-five million dollars of Citizens United money was spent on U.S. Senate races alone. Worse, 30 percent of all spending by outside groups was funded by anonymous donations, an illegal action prior to the ruling. Forty million of the dollars spent on Senate races came from sources that might never be revealed. (Washington Post)
U.S. Supreme Court Issues Landmark Decision: Constitution is Void The U.S. Supreme Court issued a landmark decision that serves to allow judges to void the Constitution in their courtrooms. The decision was issued on January 18, 2011, and the Court did not even explain the decision (Docket No. 10-632, 10-633, and 10-690). One word decisions: DENIED.
Presented with this information and massive proof that was not contested in any manner by the accused judges, at least six of the justices voted to deny the petitions:
"There is no legal or factual basis whatsoever for the decisions of the lower courts in this matter. These rulings were issued for corrupt reasons. Many of the judges in the Northern District of Georgia and the Eleventh Circuit are corrupt and violate laws and rules, as they have done in this case. The Supreme Court must recognize this Petition as one of the most serious matters ever presented to this Court." (PR Newswire)
World needs $100 trillion more credit, says World Economic Forum
The world's expected economic growth will have to be supported by an extra $100 trillion (£63 trillion) in credit over the next decade, according to the World Economic Forum. - This doubling of existing credit levels could be achieved without increasing the risk of a major crisis, said the report from the WEF ahead of its high-profile annual meeting in Davos.
But researchers warned that leaders must be wary of new credit "hotspots", where too much lending takes place, as the world emerges from a financial catastrophe blamed in large part "to the failure of the financial system to detect and constrain" these areas of unsustainable debt.
"Pockets of credit grew rapidly to excess -- and brought the entire financial system to the brink of collapse," said the report, written in conjunction with consulting firm McKinsey. "Yet, credit is the lifeblood of the economy, and much more of it will be needed to sustain the recovery and enable the developing world to achieve its growth potential." (London Telegraph)
Strange Claim: The Sun Rose 2 Days Early in Greenland Residents of a town on the western coast of Greenland may have seen the sun peek over the horizon 48 hours earlier than its usual arrival on Jan. 13, sparking speculation, and disagreements, over possible causes.
The town of Ilulissat sits just above the Arctic Circle, meaning its residents had been without any sunlight for a good chunk of the winter, and traditionally they'd expect to see their "first sunrise" on Jan. 13.
News that the sun had peeked over the horizon on Jan. 11 appeared online in British and German-language publications and it appears to trace back to a story by the Greenland broadcasting company KNR that quotes residents who noticed the change. [Image Gallery: Sunrises and Sunsets]
Of about half a dozen scientists contacted, most were unaware of the report, which was circulating on the Internet. They offered a number of hypothetical explanations, including an illusion caused by an atmospheric effect and conflicting opinions about whether global warming might be to blame for melting along the edges of Greenland's ice sheet. With less ice, Greenland's elevation may take a dip such that the sun would have less distance to travel before appearing over the horizon. (Live Science)
Was Arizona Shooter Obsessed with “Waking Life”? If something is too difficult to explain, just blame cartoons. So now some people are beginning to suggest that Jared Loughner, the gunman who went on a shooting rampage in Arizona that killed six people, may have been a fan of Richard Linklater’s 2001 rotoscope-animation film Waking Life. Last night on 60 Minutes, friends of the shooter said he was “obsessed with the film.” The connection stems from Loughner’s obsession with lucid dreaming—a mental state in which you’re aware that you’re dreaming—which is a central theme of Waking Life. (Cartoon Brew)
EXPOSED: Rahm Emanuel and the Chicago Political Syndicate (w/ Wayne Madsen) Who is Rahm Emanuel? How did he get into politics? The Emanuel family; just how powerful are they? What influence do they have on lobbying, and power politics? His workings with the Chicago Democratic Machine, how did he get started, is there a shady past he is trying to hide? Is Rahm being blackmailed because of his past with Obama on Chicago's North Side? The Blago trial; why was he and others never questioned about Obama, Valerie Jarret, and Jesse Jackson Jr. What role did he play in the attempt to bring the Olympics to Chicago? What is the connection to key players in Chicago and Washington DC winding up dead? Are there secret video tapes waiting to surface? If he is Mayor, what will the city of Chicago look like? Could he become another Rudy Giuliani? In this exclusive Special Investigation the Reality Report begin_of_the_skype_highlighting end_of_the_skype_highlighting goes deep and digs up the dirt that no Chicago media outlet would dare to report. This is a must see expose for anyone who has questions about Rahm Emanuel but just didn't know who to ask. (Reality Report)
Murdered Judge Defended Sheriff Mack Judge John M. Roll, murdered in Saturday’s shooting rampage in Tucson, was the leading judicial voice supporting former Graham County, Arizona Sheriff Richard Mack in his 1997 lawsuit against the federal government. Mack is a speaker, states’ rights advocate and author of The County Sheriff: America’s Last Hope.
Sheriff Mack observed in an interview on Alex Jones’ Jan. 10 radio broadcast that John Roll changed his life. He has quoted Roll in his books. In 1997, when Mack was sheriff of Graham County, he joined with Sheriff Jay Printz of Montana in filing a suit against the federal government regarding the Brady Act. The resulting Supreme Court decision found the Act unconstitutional.
The Brady Act not only would have required state and local officials to carry out and fund a federal mandate regarding gun regulations, but it also called for the arrest of any law enforcement officer who refused to enforce it. On the basis of these provisions, Mack and Printz filed suit, and were eventually joined by five other sheriffs around the nation. Mack recalled of the judge:
He was really worried about the sanctions against me (or any other sheriff) — he protected me. Judge Roll stood up for me in particular because I was the only one filing the lawsuit at the time. (The New American)
From the archives: Rahm Emanuel, Freddie Mac and the big bucks years From Rahm Emanuel's profitable stint at mortgage giant and Freddie Mac scandals began during Emanuel's watch by Bob Secter and Andrew Zajac, and The House Rahm Built -- How Chicago's profane, ruthless, savvy operative, remade the Democrats in his image by Naftali Bendavid.
Before its portfolio of bad loans helped trigger the current housing crisis, mortgage giant Freddie Mac was the focus of a major accounting scandal that led to a management shake-up, huge fines and scalding condemnation of passive directors by a top federal regulator.
One of those allegedly asleep-at-the-switch board members was Chicago's Rahm Emanuel-- now chief of staff to President Barack Obama-- who made at least $320,000 for a 14-month stint at Freddie Mac that required little effort....
What is less known, however, is how little he apparently did for his money and how he benefited from the kind of cozy ties between Washington and Wall Street that have fueled the nation's current economic mess..... (Chicago Tribune)
Gabrielle Giffords shooting: Frightening, twisted shrine in Arizona killer Jared Lee Loughner's yard A sinister shrine reveals a chilling occult dimension in the mind of the deranged gunman accused of shooting a member of Congress and 19 others.
Hidden within a camouflage tent behind Jared Lee Loughner's home sits an alarming altar with a skull sitting atop a pot filled with shriveled oranges.
A row of ceremonial candles and a bag of potting soil lay nearby, photos reveal.
Experts on Sunday said the elements are featured in the ceremonies of a number of occult groups.
Investigators have focused on Loughner's online anti-government ramblings as the chief motivation for the shooting Saturday of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.).
The discovery of the shrine raises the possibility that Loughner, 22, may have been driven by other forces. Students and faculty at Pima Community College, which he attended until his suspension last summer, said Loughner was clearly at odds with the world. (NY Daily News)
Judge John Roll respected among peers: Roll lauded as a law scholar with strong standards U.S. District Judge John Roll could have been a likely target for an angry gunman.
But his death Saturday in the melee near Tucson that killed six and wounded 13 others, including U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, was likely an unfortunate coincidence.
Roll, 63, chief judge for the U.S. District for Arizona, who sat on the bench since 1991, was in the middle of some of the state's most contentious court battles, many of them having to do with illegal immigration.
He was presiding over a federal court challenge to a ban on ethnic studies in the Tucson Unified School District when he died.
He had received death threats in 2009 during a civil-rights case in his courtroom filed by illegal immigrants against an Arizona rancher who made citizens' arrests.
Roll paid no attention to protests on both sides of the issue.
"Politics never bore on any of his decisions," said José de Jesus Rivera, a former U.S. attorney for Arizona who represented one side of the rancher case. But he was a courteous man, the kind who remembered your name, and your spouse's name.
He was not appearing with Giffords in any official capacity. It was a courtesy visit.
He told his family that after Mass on Saturday, he would stop by the supermarket in his neighborhood where Giffords was meeting with constituents to pay his respects to the congresswoman. (The Arizona Republic)
Judge's final actions key to federal charge for his murder The actions and motivations of U.S. District Court Judge John Roll just before he was shot dead at Rep. Gabrielle Giffords's campaign event in Tucson on Saturday are important for the public narrative about the tragedy, but they're also vital to the federal criminal charge for his murder.
The criminal complaint federal prosecutors filed Sunday against the alleged shooter, Jared Loughner, goes to some lengths to demonstrate that Roll didn't show up at the Giffords event just to say hello to the congresswoman, or on some whim after attending mass, as reports Saturday suggested. That storyline was fueled by Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik, who said "because [Roll] knows Gabrielle very well, [he] came around the corner to say hi. Unfortunately he was in the wrong place at the wrong time."
By contrast, FBI agent Tony Taylor argues that Roll was at the event to talk to Giffords about ongoing problems related to a surge in the federal judicial caseload in Arizona--a problem which the judge has attributed to a boost in the number of federal agents sent to the area to address immigration and border-related crime.
Under federal law, the murder or attempted murder of a U.S. official, such as a judge, is only considered a federal crime if committed "while such officer or employee is engaged in or on account of the performance of official duties." In other words, if Roll simply stopped by the event to greet Giffords, who he's said to have been friendly with, or due to idle curiosity about what was happening there, his killing probably wouldn't be a federal offense. (Politico)
Top US Federal Judge Assassinated After Threat To Obama Agenda A Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) report circulating in the Kremlin today states that the top US Federal Judge for the State of Arizona was assassinated barely 72-hours after he made a critical ruling against the Obama administrations plan to begin the confiscation of their citizen’s private retirement and banking accounts in order to stave off their nations imminent economic collapse, and after having the US Marshals protecting him removed.
According to this SVR report, Federal Judge John McCarthy Roll was the Chief Judge for the United States District Court for the District of Arizona who this past Friday issued what is called a “preliminary ruling” in a case titled “United States of America v. $333,520.00 in United States Currency et al” [Case Number: 4:2010cv00703 Filed: November 30, 2010] wherein he stated he was preparing to rule against Obama’s power to seize American citizens money without clear and convincing evidence of a crime being committed.
The case being ruled on by Judge Roll, this report continues, was about bulk cash smuggling into or out of the United States that the Obama administration claimed was their right to seize under what are called Presidential Executive Orders, instead of using existing laws. The Obama administration used as support for their claim before Judge Roll, the SVR says, the seizing of all American citizens’ gold, in 1933, by President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s signing of Executive Order 6102, which was ruled at the time to be constitutional.
Should the Obama administration win their argument to seize their citizen’s money by Executive Order without having to abide by the law was made more chilling this past week when reports emerged from the US stating that President Obama and his regime allies were, indeed, preparing to rule America by decree since their loss this past November of their control over the US House of Representatives, and in the words of the Washington Posts columnist Charles Krauthammer: “For an Obama bureaucrat … the will of the Congress is a mere speed bump”.
Since taking office in early 2009, Obama has completely overturned the once free United States through his use of Executive Orders that asserts his power to put anyone he wants in prison without charges or trial forever and his right to assassinate any American citizen he deems a threat. (What Does It Mean)
Too much fluoride in water, government says -- High levels causing spots on teeth; recommended limit to be lowered Fluoride in drinking water — credited with dramatically cutting cavities and tooth decay — may now be too much of a good thing. Getting too much of it causes spots on some kids' teeth.
A reported increase in the spotting problem is one reason the federal government will announce Friday it plans to lower the recommended levels for fluoride in water supplies — the first such change in nearly 50 years.
About 2 out of 5 adolescents have tooth streaking or spottiness because of too much fluoride, a surprising government study found recently. In some extreme cases, teeth can even be pitted by the mineral — though many cases are so mild only dentists notice it.
Health officials note that most communities have fluoride in their water supplies, and toothpaste has it too. Some kids are even given fluoride supplements.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is announcing a proposal to change the recommended fluoride level to 0.7 milligrams per liter of water. And the Environmental Protection Agency will review whether the maximum cutoff of 4 milligrams per liter is too high. (Associated Press)
Commission spreads the blame for Gulf oil disaster in report "The blowout was not the product of a series of aberrational decisions made by rogue industry or government officials that could not have been anticipated or expected to occur again. Rather, the root causes are systemic and, absent significant reform in both industry practices and government policies, might well recur." - "Systemic" problems caused the Deepwater Horizon blowout and subsequent oil spill and only "significant reform" will prevent another, President Barack Obama's commission studying the disaster says in its soon-to-be-released report. (CNN)
A Clear Danger to Free Speech THE so-called Shield bill, which was recently introduced in both houses of Congress in response to the WikiLeaks disclosures, would amend the Espionage Act of 1917 to make it a crime for any person knowingly and willfully to disseminate, “in any manner prejudicial to the safety or interest of the United States,” any classified information “concerning the human intelligence activities of the United States.”
Although this proposed law may be constitutional as applied to government employees who unlawfully leak such material to people who are unauthorized to receive it, it would plainly violate the First Amendment to punish anyone who might publish or otherwise circulate the information after it has been leaked. At the very least, the act must be expressly limited to situations in which the spread of the classified information poses a clear and imminent danger of grave harm to the nation.
The clear and present danger standard has been a central element of our First Amendment jurisprudence ever since Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.’s 1919 opinion in Schenk v. United States. In the 90 years since, the precise meaning of “clear and present danger” has evolved, but the animating principle was stated brilliantly by Justice Louis D. Brandeis in his 1927 concurring opinion in Whitney v. California. The founders “did not exalt order at the cost of liberty,” wrote Brandeis; on the contrary, they understood that “only an emergency can justify repression. Such must be the rule if authority is to be reconciled with freedom. Such ... is the command of the Constitution. It is, therefore, always open to Americans to challenge a law abridging free speech and assembly by showing that there was no emergency justifying it.” (New York Times)
An Important Distinction: Democracy versus Republic It is important to keep in mind the difference between a Democracy and a Republic, as dissimilar forms of government. Understanding the difference is essential to comprehension of the fundamentals involved. It should be noted, in passing, that use of the word Democracy as meaning merely the popular type of government--that is, featuring genuinely free elections by the people periodically--is not helpful in discussing, as here, the difference between alternative and dissimilar forms of a popular government: a Democracy versus a Republic. This double meaning of Democracy--a popular-type government in general, as well as a specific form of popular government--needs to be made clear in any discussion, or writing, regarding this subject, for the sake of sound understanding.
These two forms of government: Democracy and Republic, are not only dissimilar but antithetical, reflecting the sharp contrast between (a) The Majority Unlimited, in a Democracy, lacking any legal safeguard of the rights of The Individual and The Minority, and (b) The Majority Limited, in a Republic under a written Constitution safeguarding the rights of The Individual and The Minority; as we shall now see.
Background of the HAARP Project Military interest in space became intense during and after World War II because of the introduction of rocket science, the companion to nuclear technology. The early versions include the buzz bomb and guided missiles. They were thought of as potential carriers of both nuclear and conventional bombs.
Rocket technology and nuclear weapon technology developed simultaneously between 1945 and 1963. During this time of intensive atmospheric nuclear testing, explosions at various levels above and below the surface of the earth were attempted. Some of the now familiar descriptions of the earth's protective atmosphere, such as the existence of the Van Allen belts, were based on information gained through stratospheric and ionospheric experimentation.
The earth's atmosphere consists of the troposphere, from sea level to about 16 km above the earth's surface; the stratosphere (which contains the ozone level) which extends from about the 16 to 48 km above the earth; and the ionosphere which extends from 48 km to over 50,000 km above the surface of the earth.
The earth's protective atmosphere or "skin" extends beyond 3,200 km above sea level to the large magnetic fields, called the Van Allen Belts, which can capture the charged particles sprayed through the cosmos by the solar and galactic winds. These belts were discovered in 1958 during the first weeks of the operation of America's first satellite, Explorer I. They appear to contain charged particles trapped in the earth's gravity and magnetic fields. Primary galactic cosmic rays enter the solar system from interstellar space, and are made up of protons with energies above 100 MeV, extending up to astronomically high energies. They make up about 100 percent of the high energy rays. Solar rays are generally of lower energy, below 20 MeV (which is still high energy in earth terms). These high energy particles are affected by the earth's magnetic field and by geomagnetic latitude (distance above or below the geomagnetic equator). The flux density of low energy protons at the top of the atmosphere is normally greater at the poles than at the equator. The density also varies with solar activity, being at a minimum when solar flares are at a minimum. (EarthPulse.com)
Barack Obama (D) Top Contributors 2008
This table lists the top donors to this candidate in the 2008 election cycle. The organizations themselves did not donate , rather the money came from the organization's PAC, its individual members or employees or owners, and those individuals' immediate families. Organization totals include subsidiaries and affiliates.
Because of contribution limits, organizations that bundle together many individual contributions are often among the top donors to presidential candidates. These contributions can come from the organization's members or employees (and their families). The organization may support one candidate, or hedge its bets by supporting multiple candidates. Groups with national networks of donors - like EMILY's List and Club for Growth - make for particularly big bundlers.
University of California $1,642,735
Goldman Sachs $1,012,841
Harvard University $862,604
Microsoft Corp $852,167
Google Inc $814,540
JPMorgan Chase & Co $807,799
Citigroup Inc $736,771
Time Warner $623,118
Sidley Austin LLP $600,298
Stanford University $595,716
National Amusements Inc $563,548
WilmerHale Llp $549,918
Skadden, Arps et al $543,539
Columbia University $536,202
UBS AG $532,674
IBM Corp $532,372
General Electric $528,180
US Government $517,908
Morgan Stanley $512,232
Latham & Watkins $502,045 (Center for Responsive Politics)
California PENAL CODE SECTION 12403.7 Notwithstanding any other law, any person may purchase, possess, or use tear gas and tear gas weapons for the projection or
release of tear gas if the tear gas and tear gas weapons are used
solely for self-defense purposes, subject to the following
(a) ... (g) Any person who uses tear gas or tear gas weapons except in
self-defense is guilty of a public offense and is punishable by
imprisonment pursuant to subdivision (h) of Section 1170 for 16
months, or two or three years or in a county jail not to exceed one
year or by a fine not to exceed one thousand dollars ($1,000), or by
both the fine and imprisonment, except that, if the use is against a
peace officer, as defined in Chapter 4.5 (commencing with Section
830) of Title 3 of Part 2, engaged in the performance of his or her
official duties and the person committing the offense knows or
reasonably should know that the victim is a peace officer, the
offense is punishable by imprisonment pursuant to subdivision (h) of
Section 1170 for 16 months or two or three years or by a fine of one
thousand dollars ($1,000), or by both the fine and imprisonment. (California State Assembly)
Campaign finance reform in the United States is the common term for the political effort in the United States to change the involvement of money in politics, primarily in political campaigns.
Although attempts to regulate campaign finance by legislation date back to 1867, the first successful attempts nationally to regulate and enforce campaign finance originated in the 1970s. The Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) of 1972 required candidates to disclose sources of campaign contributions and campaign expenditures. It was amended in 1974 with the introduction of statutory limits on contributions, and creation of the Federal Election Commission (FEC). It attempted to restrict the influence of wealthy individuals by limiting individual donations to $1,000 and donations by political action committees (PACs) to $5,000. These specific election donations are known as ‘hard money.’ The Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (BCRA) of 2002, also known as "McCain-Feingold", after its sponsors, is the most recent major federal law on campaign finance, which revised some of the legal limits on expenditures set in 1974, and prohibited unregulated contributions (commonly referred to as "soft money") to national political parties. ‘Soft money’ also refers to funds spent by independent organizations that do not specifically advocate the election or defeat of candidates, and funds which are not contributed directly to candidate campaigns.
In early 2010, the United States Supreme Court ruled in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission that corporate funding of independent political broadcasts in candidate elections cannot be limited pursuant to the right of these entities to free speech. (Wikipedia)
Clean Elections (variously called, "Clean Money," "Voter-Owned Elections," or "Fair Elections") is a term used to describe a particular system of government financing of political campaigns, where the government provides a grant to prospective candidates who agree to limit their and private fundraising efforts and limit their campaign-spending. (Wikipedia)
High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program: Program Purpose HAARP is a scientific endeavor aimed at studying the properties and behavior of the ionosphere, with particular emphasis on being able to understand and use it to enhance communications and surveillance systems for both civilian and defense purposes.
The HAARP program is committed to developing a world class ionospheric research facility consisting of:
* The Ionospheric Research Instrument (IRI), a high power transmitter facility operating in the High Frequency (HF) range. The IRI will be used to temporarily excite a limited area of the ionosphere for scientific study.
* A sophisticated suite of scientific (or diagnostic) instruments that will be used to observe the physical processes that occur in the excited region. (HAARP)
Home Page Arduino is an open-source electronics prototyping platform based on flexible, easy-to-use hardware and software. It's intended for artists, designers, hobbyists, and anyone interested in creating interactive objects or environments.
Arduino can sense the environment by receiving input from a variety of sensors and can affect its surroundings by controlling lights, motors, and other actuators. The microcontroller on the board is programmed using the Arduino programming language (based on Wiring) and the Arduino development environment (based on Processing). Arduino projects can be stand-alone or they can communicate with software running on a computer (e.g. Flash, Processing, MaxMSP).
The boards can be built by hand or purchased preassembled; the software can be downloaded for free. The hardware reference designs (CAD files) are available under an open-source license, you are free to adapt them to your needs.
Arduino received an Honorary Mention in the Digital Communities section of the 2006 Ars Electronica Prix. The Arduino team is: Massimo Banzi, David Cuartielles, Tom Igoe, Gianluca Martino, and David Mellis. Credits (Arduino)
Iron triangle (US politics)
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
This article is about a political term. For other meanings, see Iron Triangle.
Iron Triangle diagram.
In United States politics, the iron triangle is a term used by political scientists to describe the policy-making relationship among the congressional committees, the bureaucracy (executive) (sometimes called "government agencies"), and interest groups.
For example, within the federal government the three sides often consist of: various congressional committees, which are responsible for funding government programs and operations and then providing oversight of them; the federal agencies (often Independent agencies), which are responsible for the regulation of those affected industries; and last, the industries themselves, as well as their trade associations and lobbying groups, which benefit, or seek benefit, from these operations and programs.
Probably the earliest concept of the "iron triangle" was on January 17, 1919 by Ralph Pulitzer. It was the post World War I era when Pulitzer wrote about the Paris Peace Conference and the new relationships between the allied Governments. He stated,
“Three forces are laboring for such a sinister peace: (1) the bourbonism of politicians…; (2) the materialism of industrial…; (3) the militarism of professional soldiers…” and “If the Peace Conference is allowed to remain between governments instead of between peoples it is apt to degenerate…”
An often-used example of the term is with reference to the military-industrial complex, with Congress (and the House and Senate Committees on Armed Services), defense contractors, and the U.S. Department of Defense forming the iron triangle. The term iron triangle has been widely used by political scientists outside the United States and is today an accepted term in the field. (Wikipedia)
Jefferson Spurious Quotations: Private Banks Quotation: "If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around them will deprive the people of all property until their children wake up homeless on the continent their Fathers conquered...I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies... The issuing power should be taken from the banks and restored to the people, to whom it properly belongs." - Earliest known appearance in print: 1937 - Status: This quotation is at least partly spurious; see comments below. (The Jefferson Encyclopedia)
Late-2000s financial crisis The Great Recession (often called the Credit Crunch or the Global Financial Crisis) is considered by many economists to be the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930s. It resulted in the collapse of large financial institutions, the bailout of banks by national governments, and downturns in stock markets around the world. In many areas, the housing market has also suffered, resulting in numerous evictions, foreclosures and prolonged vacancies. It contributed to the failure of key businesses, declines in consumer wealth estimated in the trillions of U.S. dollars, and a significant decline in economic activity, leading to a severe global economic recession in 2008.
The financial crisis was triggered by a liquidity shortfall in the United States banking system in 2008. The collapse of the U.S. housing bubble, which peaked in 2007, caused the values of securities tied to U.S. real estate pricing to plummet, damaging financial institutions globally. Questions regarding bank solvency, declines in credit availability and damaged investor confidence had an impact on global stock markets, where securities suffered large losses during 2008 and early 2009. Economies worldwide slowed during this period, as credit tightened and international trade declined. Governments and central banks responded with unprecedented fiscal stimulus, monetary policy expansion and institutional bailouts. Although there have been aftershocks, the financial crisis itself ended sometime between late-2008 and mid-2009.
While many causes for the financial crisis have been suggested, with varying weight assigned by experts, the United States Senate issuing the Levin–Coburn Report found “that the crisis was not a natural disaster, but the result of high risk, complex financial products; undisclosed conflicts of interest; and the failure of regulators, the credit rating agencies, and the market itself to rein in the excesses of Wall Street.” Critics argued that credit rating agencies and investors failed to accurately price the risk involved with mortgage-related financial products, and that governments did not adjust their regulatory practices to address 21st-century financial markets. The repeal of the Glass–Steagall Act of 1933 effectively removed the separation that previously existed between Wall Street investment banks and depository banks. There is some debate as to what role the repeal of Glass–Steagall had on the late 2000s financial crisis. In response to the financial crisis, both market-based and regulatory solutions have been implemented or are under consideration. (Wikipedia)
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