Forty members of Congress have sent a letter urging the House and Senate Armed Services Committee leaders to protest provisions of the National Defense Authorization Act that would legalize the indefinite detention of American citizens. The NDAA first passed in the House of Representatives weeks ago but endured strong opposition from a handful of lawmakers in the U.S. Senate last Thursday, where the bill was passed but with the addition of an amendment that forced the measure to be reconciled and revised for a final vote. The revised version of the NDAA was finalized on Tuesday, and a vote on it is set to take place this week.
Renewing a tune it has sung over the past few years, the federal National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is once again proposing a nationwide ban on drivers texting and using cellphones.
As reported by CNN, the proposed federal ban “is the most far-reaching yet” made by the NTSB, “which in the past 10 years has increasingly sought to limit the use of portable electronic devices — recommending bans for novice drivers, school bus drivers and commercial truckers.” Should the intrusive ban be pushed through nationally, non-emergency calls as well as all texting by drivers would be outlawed. The ban would include both hands-free and hand-held devices, but would exclude devices installed by carmakers.
The NTSB alleges that around 3,092 traffic fatalities last year were caused by distracted drivers — including those texting or on cellphones — but they insist that the numbers may actually be higher. “Needless lives are lost on our highways, and for what?” asked NTSB Chairwoman Deborah Hersman, who is heading up the campaign. “Convenience? Death isn’t convenient. So we can stay more connected? A fatal accident severs that connection.”
Former Vice President Dick Cheney has faulted President Barack Obama for requesting the return of an unmanned U.S. spy plane downed in Iran. Cheney said in an interview with CNN News that the United States should have taken military action to destroy the plane before the Iranians could gather critical intelligence and technological data from it.
The narrative continues over smartphone privacy issues involving the data logging program Carrier IQ, which was recently found to be installed on about 150 million handsets worldwide, including many popular Android, iOS, Nokia, and Blackberry devices. Controversy over the invasive software stemmed from allegations that Carrier IQ has the ability to record an array of device information, including keystrokes, text messages, web browsing, and user location, all without the user’s knowledge or expressed consent.
Uproar over the smartphone "spyware" emerged in late November when Trevor Eckhart posted on his blog two videos unraveling how the Carrier IQ program he discovered on an HTC smartphone was able to track virtually every function on the phone. Following Eckhart’s purported revelation, several cellphone providers, including Sprint, T-Mobile, and AT&T, admitted they have used the program on their phones for performance-tracking purposes.
In turn, the software developer and several cellphone providers have been issued a class action lawsuit for violating the Federal Wiretap Act, the Stored Electronic Communications Act, and the Federal Computer Fraud Abuse Act. The filing alleged that the companies committed an "unprecedented breach in the digital privacy rights of 150 million cell phone users" and that the defendants deliberately pre-installed the Carrier IQ software into their products, without any form of consumer disclosure.
With threats of continuing debates over the payroll taxcuts well into the congressional holiday vacation, it seems members of Congress are anxious to reach an agreement soon. Last week, both the Democratic and Republican Senate proposals for how to handle the expiring Social Security payroll tax cuts failed, forcing Congress back to the drawing board. On Tuesday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed another piece of legislation which now requires a vote in the Senate; however, it’s one that has already faced trouble in the upper house.
The measure passed on a virtual party-line vote, 234 to 193, with just 14 Republicans opposing the bill and 10 Democrats supporting it. It “extends payroll tax relief, extends and reforms unemployment insurance and protects Social Security — without job killing tax hikes,” asserts Republican House Speaker John Boehner.
The Blaze reports, "The Social Security payroll tax cuts approved a year ago to help stimulate the economy would be extended through 2012, avoiding a loss of take-home income for wage-earners. An expiring program of unemployment benefits for the long-term jobless would remain in place, although at reduced levels that the administration said would cut off aid for 3.3 million."
With the January 3 Iowa Caucus just around the corner, every tiny fluctuation in the polls seems to matter. Just weeks ago, there was a four-way tie in Iowa among Texas Congressman Ron Paul, former Godfather Pizza CEO Herman Cain, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. Those numbers have changed several times since then, particularly with Herman Cain dropping out of the race, and according to the most recent Public Policy Polling, Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich are now tied for first.
Just last week, Newt Gingrich held a clear lead in Iowa, but Paul has now closed the gap, polling at 21 percent, virtually matching Gingrich’s 22 percent. Ron Paul reportedly has a great deal of support in Iowa and Romney is now coming in third in the Hawkeye State, with 16 percent.
Paul’s campaign has been extremely successful in reaching Iowa voters, and intends to continue in its efforts. Paul’s campaign has organized a “Christmas Vacation with Ron Paul” program which will feature approximately 500 youth in Iowa knocking on doors and manning the phone bank for their candidate. Additionally, the campaign purchased a $1-million ad buy in Iowa, which includes radio, TV, and mail advertisements, many of which focus on Newt Gingrich, who is currently Paul’s greatest rival.
What is the price of freedom? $662 billion. That’s the amount that will be spent on the defense budget for 2012 if it becomes law. For a moment, set aside the fact that the bill authorizes spending billions of dollars on the perpetuation of two unconstitutional foreign conflicts (Iraq and Afghanistan).
Set aside momentarily that the bill greases the skids for the deployment of forces into Iran (after “sanctions” fail to persuade Ahmadinejad to see things our way).
This bill, the National Defense Authorization Act for 2012 that will now be sent in its conference form, will soon arrive at the House and Senate for a final vote. Then, on to the desk of President Obama for his signature or veto.
Apart from the obvious eviscerations of the separation of powers and the enumeration thereof in the Constitution, this legislation converts America into a war zone and turns Americans into potential suspected terrorists, complete with the full roster of rights typically afforded to terrorists — none.
In advance of the holiday break set to begin on Friday, Congress is hurrying to enact the defense budget with an eye-popping $662-billion price tag.
On November 17, four convicted terrorists appealed to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver, Colorado, to review the alleged violation of their constitutionally guaranteed due process rights on the part of the government of the United States. The four co-petitioners are Omar Rezaq, Ibrahim Elgabrowny, El-Sayyid Nosair, and Mohammed Salameh. While these names may not sound familiar, their deeds are infamous. A brief “rap sheet” for each follows.
Omar Mohammed Ali Rezaq is the sole surviving hijacker of EgyptAir Flight 648. He was one of three members of the militant Palestinian organization Abu Nidal (named for the founder of Fatah, Abu Nidal) who participated in the hijacking of the plane in 1985. The other two hijackers were gunned down either by armed sky marshals or by Egyptian commandos who stormed onto the airplane. On July 19, 1996, a federal district judge sentenced Rezaq to life imprisonment for his role in the hijacking.
Antony Sutton, in his remarkable expose of Skull and Bones, the secret senior society at Yale, wrote that a conspiracy, to be considered as such, must be comprised of three facets: “There must be secret meetings of the participants and efforts made to conceal their joint actions; those meetings must jointly agree to take a course of action; and this action must be illegal.” He then went on to use his skills as an historian, scientific researcher, and detective to reveal that the Skull and Bones society at Yale University was and is indeed a conspiracy.
Two big agencies operating under the umbrella of the United Nations will not make public how they spend their money. UNICEF, the United Nations Children’s Fund, is intended to benefit poor children around the world and UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, is intended to provide for global population control. The agencies had $3.2 billion in cash in 2009, and yet they refused to tell the consulting firm IDC hired to prepare a study for the Norwegian development agency called “NORAD” how that money was spent.
The consultants also found that the UN High Commission on Refugees refused to provide some spending information, “particularly staff costs.”
These were not the only United Nations agencies which appeared to have lots of cash lying around. UNDP, the United Nations Development Program, and WFP, the World Food Program, also had large amounts of unspent funds. Among other findings in this report, the UNFPA gave government and non-government organizations $200 million per year in ways which prevented IDC auditors from examining the accounts, and thus the auditors could have “have little knowledge regarding the ultimate destiny” of those funds. These amounted, according to the report, to 30 percent of UNFPA disbursed program money each year.