Sunday, July 7, 2013

Is the NSA Rejecting All Freedom of Information Act Requests from U.S. Citizens?

Via avordvet

 Is the NSA Rejecting All Freedom of Information Act Requests from U.S. Citizens?

Clayton Seymour recently sent a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the National Security Agency; the IT specialist was interested in knowing if the NSA was collecting data on him.

Weeks later, the Navy vet from Hilliard, Ohio—who voted for President Obama in 2008 and 2012 and supported his platform of greater governmental transparency—got a response that made him “furious.”

It was a letter from the NSA explaining that he was not entitled to any information. Seymour tells Tikkun Daily Blog scribe David Harris-Gershon that he “felt betrayed.”

The rejection letter details why “none of that data can be obtained by an American citizen in a standard FOIA request,” the Tikkun Daily notes:

More @ The Blaze

NC: GRNC protests Gifford's visit

Via Terry


— At about noon Sunday former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords urged a group gathered at The Pit restaurant to "Fight, Fight, Fight" and to ask federal lawmakers to expand criminal-background checks for gun buyers.

Across the street about 20 protesters with Grass Roots North Carolina held up signs saying “Guns Save Lives.”

Both factions said they were working on behalf of gun owners, but used different tactics to make their case.
Leadership of Grass Roots North Carolina, frustrated because organizers did not make public details surrounding Giffords’ and Kelly’s visit, on Saturday offered 100 rounds of free ammunition to the first person to identify the firing range Mark Kelly, Giffords’ husband, visited Sunday morning.

Bloody Civil War in Syria


Mike Scruggs

The Civil War in Syria is essentially a sectarian war between a politically dominant Shiite Muslim minority composing about 13 percent of Syria’s 23 million population and a Sunni Muslim majority of 74 percent. The Druze, a small and highly unorthodox branch of Islam, number just under 3 percent. Slightly over 10 percent of Syria’s population is Christian. It was in Antioch in Syria that the followers of Christ first began to be called Christians. Besides Lebanon, Syria and Egypt have the highest proportion of Christians in the Middle East. Most of the Shiite Muslims belong to its unusually moderate Alawite branch, who have been much more tolerant of Christianity than other Muslims. They even celebrate some Christian holidays. The Sunni majority considers the Alawite branch of Shia Islam heretical, including their protective relationship to Christians. The hostile Sunni majority is a concern to the various Christian denominations in Syria, which include Chalcedonian Orthodox (36 percent); Syrian Orthodox (22 percent); various Levantine Catholic branches (26 percent); and the Armenian Apostolic Church (11 percent). Both the Alawites and Christians are generally better off economically than the Sunnis. 

About 90 percent of Syrians are ethnic and linguistic Arabs. They speak the Aramaic dialect of Arabic, the closest dialect to Hebrew among all Semitic languages. 

Jesus spoke Aramaic. The Kurds in Northeastern Syria are the principal non-Arab people in Syria with about 9 percent of the population.

The Sunni Muslims in Syria are backed by the Muslim Brotherhood (MB), an Islamic political and religious organization with powerful political and financial connections throughout the Muslim World and in Europe and the United States. The principal military arm of the Muslim Brotherhood is the Hamas terrorist organization. Originating among Egyptian Salafists (hard-line Sunni theological radicals), Hamas is the mother organization of Al-Qaeda, best known for its terrorist attacks on the U.S. in 2001.

In the last two years, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has allied his military dominated government with the much more radical Shiite Muslims in Iran and Eastern Iraq, including the Iran-based and financed Hezbollah (Army of God) terrorist organization. Hezbollah is the largest and best trained terrorist force in the world. In that sense, Hezbollah resembles a huge elite military fighting force. 

But they may operate in small teams or heavily armed battalion-sized military units. The Assad alliance with Hezbollah is probably a defensive measure for protection against the Muslim Brotherhood, but it must make Syrian Christians very nervous.

The rebels against the Assad regime call themselves the “National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces,” the “Syrian National Coalition” for short. The UK, France, and the United States have recognized the rebel organization as the “sole representative of the Syrian people.”  President Obama is a predictably consistent ally of the Muslim Brotherhood.   

The Muslim Brotherhood has been waging a war of varying intensity against the Syrian government at least since 1970. There was a major Muslim Brotherhood uprising against the government in the late 1970s, which led to a severe crackdown by the Syrian Army in 1982. As part of that action, regular Syrian Army troops killed between 10,000 and 40,000 people near the city of Hama.

A re-eruption of the ongoing Syrian civil war was inspired by the Arab Spring revolutions in Egypt, Tunisia, and Libya. It began with peaceful protests followed by a Syrian Army crackdown. According to the UN, about 100,000 people have been killed in the last two years. About 1.5 million Syrian refugees have fled to neighboring Lebanon, Jordan, and Iraq.

Fully mobilized, the Syrian Armed Forces number about 400,000.  Hezbollah fighting strength in Syria is estimated at between 5,000 and 10,000. Hezbollah’s stated purpose in Syria is to defend Shia Islam against Sunni aggression in both Syria and neighboring Lebanon. The military arm of the rebel Syrian National Coalition is called the Free Syrian Army and numbers about 80,000. Its commander is dissident Syrian General Salim Idris.

Syria has been a cross-road for war and empires for the last 5,000 years. Within 300 years of the death of Christ, Syria became one of the most important Christian regions in the world. Following the death of Muhammad in 632, Muslim armies from Arabia conquered most of Syria. Frankish Crusaders retook and established Crusader states along the western coast in the twelfth and thirteen centuries. But by1260, the last of the Crusader states had been conquered and fought over by Muslim Mongols, Egyptians, and finally Turks.

During the First World War, the Ottoman Turkish Empire allied with Germany. Following the Turkish defeat and the breakup of the Ottoman Empire, France took the northern half of Greater Syria and created Syria and Lebanon. Lebanon was separated from Syria because of its Christian majority. The British took Palestine and Iraq. Syria was made an independent kingdom in 1920 but only became truly independent when Syrian nationalists forced French troops to leave in 1946. 

One distinctive of Syria is the ideological dominance of Arab Nationalism, which has been even more influential than Islam in Syrian politics and foreign policy.  In 1958, Syria joined with Egypt to form the United Arab Republic. Syria, however, seceded from that Union in 1961.

In 1970, Syria’s Defense Minister, Hafez al-Assad, a former Air Force officer, seized control of the government.  (The surname “Assad’ means “lion” in Arabic.)  Within a few years Assad had turned Syria into one of the world’s most ruthless police states. He died of a heart attack in 2000 and was succeeded by his youngest son, thirty-five-year-old Bashar al-Assad as President of Syria. Bashar, who was an ophthalmologist in London until his older brother was killed in an auto accident in 1994, had never expected to be a leader in Syria.

The lanky six-foot-two Bashar al-Assad is much more easy-going than his father, and many of the harsher police state activities have been discontinued. However, Syria is still unquestionably a totalitarian police state. Any threat to security is quickly crushed.

In the month of June, the Free Syrian Army murdered dozens of Christians near the village of Deir el-Zour and beheaded a Catholic priest and two assistants. The U.S. should not be helping the Muslim Brotherhood in Syria or anywhere else. Our policy concerning Syria should be to do no harm.

“Why did you shoot me? I was reading a book”: The new warrior cop is out of control

Via Bill

 “Why did you shoot me? I was reading a book

SWAT teams raiding poker games and trying to stop underage drinking? Overwhelming paramilitary force is on the rise 

Sal Culosi is dead because he bet on a football game — but it wasn’t a bookie or a loan shark who killed him. His local government killed him, ostensibly to protect him from his gambling habit.

Several months earlier at a local bar, Fairfax County, Virginia, detective David Baucum overheard the thirty-eight-year-old optometrist and some friends wagering on a college football game. “To Sal, betting a few bills on the Redskins was a stress reliever, done among friends,” a friend of Culosi’s told me shortly after his death. “None of us single, successful professionals ever thought that betting fifty bucks or so on the Virginia–Virginia Tech football game was a crime worthy of investigation.”

Baucum apparently did. After overhearing the men wagering, Baucum befriended Culosi as a cover to begin investigating him. During the next several months, he talked Culosi into raising the stakes of what Culosi thought were just more fun wagers between friends to make watching sports more interesting. Eventually Culosi and Baucum bet more than $2,000 in a single day. Under Virginia law, that was enough for police to charge Culosi with running a gambling operation. And that’s when they brought in the SWAT team.

On the night of January 24, 2006, Baucum called Culosi and arranged a time to drop by to collect his winnings. When Culosi, barefoot and clad in a T-shirt and jeans, stepped out of his house to meet the man he thought was a friend, the SWAT team began to move in. Seconds later, Det. Deval Bullock, who had been on duty since 4:00 AM and hadn’t slept in seventeen hours, fired a bullet that pierced Culosi’s heart.

More @ Salon

Obama finds money to help other countries, but not America


When Barack Obama was elected president for his first term, his wife Michelle made the statement, "for the first time in my life I'm proud to be an American." It had to be hard for her living under a constitution that gave her and her husband the right to run for president and live in the White House with unlimited vacations.

As Obama goes full steam ahead fundamentally changing America into his version of a socialist utopia, our economy and most other institutions of a Constitutional Republic are floundering woefully on the rocks. While America no longer has the funds to give full military burials to Air Force retirees and is cutting our military back both materially and with personnel, he still managed to find areas to squeeze another dollar out of American taxpayers to give tanks and jets to his Islamic radical dictator friend in Egypt.

He always finds enough of our money to help the rest of the world but not those here at home, even though we are supposed to be broke. While he lives large, living the high life and giving our money to our enemies, he cuts our basic social programs at home, leaving the truly needy and elderly and all Americans for that matter, to fend for themselves under his plans that have helped nothing but his ideology. It certainly hasn't helped Americans.

As a veteran and retired employee of the United States government, the majority of my life was spent in service to my country under my oath to the U.S. Constitution. Not to any individual, but to the principles of the founding fathers of this nation. Our ideology and the laws that guide us as a country. Presidents come and go, but the Constitution remains the same.
Neither the Democrats nor Republicans care very much for this document either, or they would hold Obama accountable under its laws and restrictions. Like him, the only thing that matters to any of them is being in charge and having that power for themselves. As long as their ends justify their means, their attitude is to hell with the Constitution, it's a hindrance that gets in their way and must be by-passed at all costs.

For the first time in my life. I'm ashamed of being an American, because Obama is trying to kill its superpower status in the world and make us financial slaves to the rest of the world by replacing our United States Constitution with his version of a Utopian fantasy land that's a dismal failure and nightmare to working Americans. 

Billy E. Price 

Where is all this gold being "withdrawn" to?

Via avordvet

 Last week we defined the golden sentiment rule as "anything that isn't off the chart soon will be."

This will happen in a "perfectly sustainable" fashion, where increasingly more paper gold is shorted to record levels even as actual physical holdings held by official Comex vaults continues to drop.

For one particular reason why the price of paper gold may be at 3 year lows, we will provide some
formerly classified perspective shortly in a post. But in the meantime, and while we await the weekly CFTC commitment of traders report (delayed until Monday due to the July 4 holiday), we are happy to report that the JPM disconnect between the epic delivery requests and its reported gold holdings (for which the "Commodity Exchange, Inc. disclaims all liability whatsoever with regard to its accuracy or completeness") reconnected modestly, and as per the latest Comex update, another 6.8k ounces of gold was pulled from JPM's 1 CMP world's biggest gold vault, dropping its total gold inventory to a fresh record low.

More @ Zero Hedge

Hundreds bear arms in Westcliffe parade

Via avordvet

 The Fourth of July Parade in the town of Westcliffe looked like many Independence Day celebrations with floats, horse riding groups and fire trucks. However, what set this parade apart were all of the guns. There were moms with guns, dads with guns and even kids with guns.

The Southern Colorado Patriots Club invited gun owners and Tea Party members to march with them in the parade, displaying their unloaded weapons.

"We believe in the constitution, we believe in the First Amendment, the right to assembly, the right to march, the right to our voice," said Patriots Club president Mike Hess. "We believe strongly that Second amendment rights should not be infringed."

Hess says the idea was to show support for the 54 county sheriffs, including Custer County Sheriff Fred Jobe, for suing the State of Colorado over the recently enacted gun control laws.

More with video @ KOAA

“North Carolina Perspectives Guide the War Between the States Commemoration”

“North Carolina Perspectives Guide the War Between the States Commemoration”
“The Sesquicentennial’s Midpoint” – a July 2013 Interview with Bernhard Thuersam, NC WBTS Sesquicentennial Commission Chairman.

The observance of North Carolina’s War Between the States Sesquicentennial is now in its third year, paralleling 1863 and chronicling its effect upon North Carolina and its people. Just past is the observance of North Carolina’s participation at the three-day battle at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, which saw many Tarheels journey northward to follow the footsteps of their ancestors, many of whom did not return from that battlefield. 

The Commission Mr. Thuersam leads is a 12-member group of private individuals from across the State, from Cape Carteret and Wilmington to Tabor City and Southern Pines, to Granite Falls and Asheville – and includes Commander Thomas Smith, Jr., North Carolina Division, Sons of Confederate Veterans.  Equally impressive is the Commission’s Academic Board with Dr. Clyde Wilson, native Tarheel and retired Professor of History at the University of South Carolina on board, and Dr. Boyd Cathey, retired Registrar at North Carolina Department of Archives & History.   

What The Sesquicentennial Commission is Commemorating

“Our opening webpage header, “Unsurpassed Valor, Courage and Devotion to Liberty” makes it clear what we are commemorating, and the content affirms why we are observing this important time of North Carolina’s history,” states North Carolina War Between the States Sesquicentennial
Commission Chairman Bernhard Thuersam of Wilmington.  He adds: “we also entitle the website “A State Forced Out of the Union” to make it clear why North Carolinians helped form a more perfect union with other Southern States – Unionists were more numerous than secessionists in early 1861 but the uncompromising nature of Northern Republicans would force them to find a more perfect union elsewhere.”

A Work in Progress

The Commission chairman said the website continues to be “a work in progress” as three new webpages have been recently published: “North Carolina’s View of Secession” drawn primarily from Dr. J. Carlyle Sitterson’s seminal study “The Secession Movement in North Carolina and published in 1939; “Women and Children Face the Invader” which reveals the reality of war at home and how it was faced by noncombatants; and “The Tariff Origins of the War,” a concise and informative look at the economic factors that really caused the war.   

Thuersam said the Sesquicentennial itself, and greatly-increased public interest has spawned “War Between the States Era” walking and driving tours of North Carolina towns and cities, one operating in Wilmington since 2011 and similar ventures started or planned in Raleigh, Charlotte, Burlington, Fayetteville, Kinston and Plymouth.  He adds that “our website hits are nothing short of phenomenal and so many people want to know more about that period, and the North Carolinians who lived, fought and died then.”

Impact to Date of the Sesquicentennial Commission and its Website

Asked what impact he feels the Sesquicentennial Commission, its website and efforts have had since 2011, Thuersam responded: “I see in the print and online media more discussion of that period today and a far better appreciation and recognition of the North Carolinians of that time -- plus the individual heroism they displayed both at the front and at home.  The human story of sacrifice, valor, courage and suffering of that time has finally come to the forefront.”

Thuersam added, “I am happy to see many moving away from referring to North Carolina’s soldiers of that time as simply “Confederates,” and more properly seeing them as husbands, fathers, sons and brothers, all who fought and gave their lives to defend Hatteras, New Bern, Kinston, Plymouth, Fort Fisher, Wilmington, Fayetteville, Bentonville, and many far away battlefields.  To me this means the Commission has been fulfilling its mission of public awareness and education very well, and it is a satisfying feeling”  

The website provided high visibility for the many memorial observances across the State this year and Thuersam remarked that “I had the very high privilege of speaking at the Robert E. Lee Birthday at the State Capitol, as well as the Columbus County Memorial Day service, both great honors. There is no better way to honor your ancestors, and to keep the flame of their patriotic passion burning in your heart today.”

What is Coming Up This Year and Next?

Thuersam provides an idea of what is going on with the Commission today and what is being planned: “Well, we receive much good feedback regarding our “Patriots of ‘61” page which briefly tells the story of the many men and women from around the State who served North Carolina during that war, and this will certainly be added to with our research. We will also continue to add pages we think give the reader a well-rounded view of the war, and why it happened.”

Any Controversial Topics on the Website?

“A surprising topic we handled well, I think, was that of treason against North Carolina. We were encouraged to explore this long-neglected subject by many on the Commission and people across the State. The webpage begins with a clear analysis of what constitutes treason, especially by the standards and laws of that period, and how it adversely affected North Carolina and its war efforts.  I think our tackling this topic shows our commitment to history, warts and all, and not leaving ignored stones unturned.”

A Living History Program in the Works:

“We are in the planning stages of a very interesting living history program which has three talented impressionists in the characters and uniforms of Generals Robert F. Hoke and William H.C. Whiting, and Colonel William Lamb.  Our tentative program has them all on stage discussing the period from late-1864 through the fall of Fort Fisher and retreat from Wilmington -- allowing the audience to feel as if they are witnessing those officers and their viewpoints firsthand.  What a great way to present our history!”

He adds: “This will be followed up with a similar program featuring Generals Joseph E. Johnston, Hoke, and William Hardee at the time of Bentonville. Once again, the audience will not only learn history, but experience it as well.” 

What Happens When the Sesquicentennial is Past?

“The search for history and its remembrance is an endless task, and the Commission feels that we are engaged in the important task of compiling important information for not only us today, but for future generations as well.  We are already discussing the publication of the website content into a book available both in digital and book forms, this is most important for our young people to use for learning and research.  The Commission’s task is educational, and we are doing this to the best of our abilities, and for the sake of future generations.” 

'Congratulations, you're having a lesbian!'

A brand-new ad campaign that’s sure to raise some eyebrows features a young Australian couple being informed their unborn baby is going to be a lesbian.

In the YouTube video, a pregnant woman and her mate are at an ultrasound examination, viewing their baby in the womb on an electronic screen.

“Well, everything seems to be coming along fine,” the ultrasound technician tells the couple. “Now, would you like to know what you’re having?”

“We would,” the woman says.

“You’re having a lesbian,” the technician tells the couple.

The couple then smiles broadly, reacting positively to the news.

“A lesbian!” says the overjoyed mom-to-be.

 More @ WND

Decorated, wounded Marine treated 'shamefully' by security screeners

Via WiscoDave

Retired Marine Cpl. Nathan Kemnitz was subject to extra TSA screening because he was wearing 'too much metal.'

Wearing the uniform of the Few and Proud doesn’t rate preferential treatment from the Transportation Security Administration or California capitol security officers, retired Marine Cpl. Nathan Kemnitz recently found.

Kemnitz, severely injured in 2004 in a roadside bomb attack in Fallujah, has limited use of his right arm and cannot lift it above his head. So when security guards at the state capitol building in Sacramento, Calif., asked him to remove his dress blue blouse “because he was wearing too much metal,” and TSA asked him to raise his arms above his head for the full-body scanner at Sacramento International Airport, he could not comply.

“My right arm doesn’t work. It’s a lot of hassle for me to do that,” Kemntiz said.

At the state capitol, the Marine’s refusal to remove his uniform top grew into a heated exchange between Kemnitz, a friend who was accompanying him and security officers.

"Wacko Lefty" Justin Jasper, Armed Man Arrested In Seattle, Has Bail Set At $2 Million

Via WiscoDave

 Justin Jasper

A judge set bail at $2 million Friday for a Las Vegas man arrested near the University of Washington in a truck that authorities say contained multiple weapons, maps to three Seattle campuses and a recording in which he said he planned to do something in the West to support protesters demanding reform in Brazil.

King County Judge Arthur R. Chapman said he set such a high bail for Justin Jasper because he considered the 22-year-old a flight risk and a threat to the community.

Montana authorities said Jasper stole a pickup truck and guns from a truck driver in Butte, Mont., who had let Jasper stay at his home.

At the bail hearing in Seattle, a prosecutor said authorities found six firebombs in the vehicle, along with a bolt-action rifle, a double-barrel shotgun, a machete and several knives. They also found a recording of a podcast that appears to have Jasper expressing support for protesters in Brazil.

More than 1 million demonstrators have taken to the streets in Brazil over the past month to denounce everything from poor public services to the billions of dollars spent preparing for next year's World Cup soccer tournament and the 2016 Olympics in Brazil.

More @ Huff Post

Church severs ties with Scouts after 68 years

Via Cousin John


A Southern Baptist congregation in Georgia that has sponsored a Boy Scout troop for 68 years is one of many that already have decided to part ways with the iconic youth organization after its national council decided to allow boys who identify as homosexual to join their ranks.

Ernest Easley, senior pastor of Roswell Street Baptist Church in Marietta, Ga., northwest of Atlanta, told WND his church’s decision to sever sponsorship of Troop 204 must be seen in the larger context of the moral decay of civil institutions in America.

“I’m more concerned about the direction of our country,” he said shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court announced two major rulings that will help advance same-sex marriage.

“The church is going to be forced to take more of these stands in the days to come,” he said. “The Boy Scouts issue is a minor one compared to some of the decisions and stands that churches are going to be forced to take,” the pastor said.

“So I’m just electing to stand now, and I’m going to stand then, and I’m going to keep standing for truth.”

Easley said he’s concerned about the witness of a Christian church having a formal affiliation with an outside group that affirms and accepts a homosexual lifestyle.

“We’re not going to sponsor Planned Parenthood either, because we don’t believe what they believe,” he explained.

More @ WND

Pathetic: George W. Bush Expected to Push Immigration Reform

Via avordvet

George W. Bush Expected to Push Immigration Reform

Ain't a dimes worth of difference. 

Former President George W. Bush is expected to make a rare policy address next week talking about how immigration reform will be good for the country, The Dallas Morning News reported.
Bush will speak at a citizenship ceremony at the George W. Bush Presidential Center on Wednesday as part of an event titled, “What Immigrants Contribute.”

More @ The Blaze  

Two more killings traced to missing Fast & Furious guns

Roundabout via The Drawn Cutlass

Another weapon lost in the Obama administration's failed Fast and Furious gun-tracking operation has purportedly been traced to two more killings, including the fatal shooting of a police chief in Mexico.

The officer was killed Jan. 29 in the city of Hostotipaquillo when gunmen intercepted his patrol car and opened fire, according to Justice Department records obtained by The Los Angeles Times. The chief’s bodyguard was also killed and a second bodyguard and the chief’s wife were wounded.

More @ Fox

Guns aren't the solution ... except when they are.

Opponents of firearms for effective self-defense tell others to run away from danger, to learn martial arts, or to "give the bad guy what he wants". Not everyone can follow that advice ... in fact, almost no one can. Least of all, the kind of people who are visibly vulnerable already, such as pregnant women or the elderly.

Ashley is a beautiful woman. She is currently three weeks away from delivering a child and one of the most fit looking expecting mothers I've seen. However fit and athletic she is, has little capability for hand-to-hand combat. It's difficult to fight while carrying a heavy, fragile load within your own body.
Why might a woman like her have to fight? Pregnant women are easy prey for both human criminals and animal predators, especially dogs. They can't fight effectively, nor can they flee quickly. Look up news headlines in your area and you will see examples of both kinds of attacks. Some women also face a threat from the future father who is not happy about having to support an unwanted child.
What factors mitigate the risks? Not starting trouble, avoiding known dangerous locations, having a spouse or another capable person available as a bodyguard. Knowledge of martial arts helps mostly through improved coordination for avoiding damage from accidental falls, blocking minor threats.  

Ashley gained only 15 pounds at three weeks from delivery. Another friend nearly doubled her body weight from 96 to 180, becoming bedridden the last couple of months of the pregnancy. Even though she had considerable martial arts skills, her personal safety depended mostly on her husband and on her own ability with pistol.

More @ Oleg Volk