Daily Archives: December 5, 2012

Sinister Sites: IRS Headquarters, Maryland

irspillarspyramid

vigilantcitizen.com | Nov 28, 2012

The IRS headquarters in New Carrollton, Maryland is a government building  that, despite being constructed with public funds, contains art referring to elite secret societies. More importantly, the art conveys a strange message about the U.S. Constitution, and the American people in general. We’ll look at the symbolic meaning of the art found in front of the IRS headquarters in Maryland.

The IRS is probably the most hated institution in America – mainly because its primary role is to force people to hand over their hard-earned cash. This modern equivalent of the proverbial tax collector indeed collects money from American workers and gives it to a government that will, in turn, use this money to send drones abroad or to build information superstructures to better monitor these same workers. What’s not to like?

The IRS was originally created as a “temporary measure” during wartime (funny how the Canadian Revenue Agency was also supposed to be “temporary”), but there is nothing temporary about it now. In fact, the gigantic IRS complex in New Carrollton, Maryland was built in 1997 and is still growing today, indicating that this institution is indeed here to stay. This modern building has all of the state-of-the-art amenities one can think of, but it is the odd public art in front of it that is the most noteworthy. As is the case for many government buildings, the art displayed means absolutely nothing to most people, but to those who are versed in secret society symbolism, its implications are manifold and profound. In fact, fully understanding the origins and the meaning of the symbols in front of the IRS building means understanding who are truly in power in America (and around the world), what they believe in and what they truly think about us, the masses.

The IRS is not known to be a very artistic institution and likewise there is not much art present at its headquarters in Maryland. However, the few pieces that are on display manage to convey everything that needs to be known about the occult elite.

Full Article

Amsterdam shipping containers used for punishment housing camps for “scum”

geert-wilders-amst_2416763bThe plan echoes a proposal from Geert Wilders, the leader of a populist Dutch Right-wing party Photo: AFP/GETTY

Amsterdam is to create “Scum villages” where nuisance neighbours and anti-social tenants will be exiled from the city and rehoused in caravans or containers with “minimal services” under constant police supervision.

There are already several small-scale trial projects in the Netherlands, including in Amsterdam, where 10 shipping container homes have been set aside for persistent offenders, living under 24-hour supervision from social workers and police.

Amsterdam to create ‘scum villages’

telegraph.co.uk | Dec 3, 2012

By Bruno Waterfield

Holland’s capital already has a special hit squad of municipal officials to identify the worst offenders for a compulsory six month course in how to behave.

Social housing problem families or tenants who do not show an improvement or refuse to go to the special units face eviction and homelessness.

Eberhard van der Laan, Amsterdam’s Labour mayor, has tabled the £810,000 plan to tackle 13,000 complaints of anti-social behaviour every year. He complained that long-term harassment often leads to law abiding tenants, rather than their nuisance neighbours, being driven out.

“This is the world turned upside down,” the mayor said at the weekend.

The project also involves setting up a special hotline and system for victims to report their problems to the authorities.

The new punishment housing camps have been dubbed “scum villages” because the plan echoes a proposal from Geert Wilders, the leader of a populist Dutch Right-wing party, for special units to deal with persistent troublemakers.

“Repeat offenders should be forcibly removed from their neighbourhood and sent to a village for scum,” he suggested last year. “Put all the trash together.”

Whilst denying that the new projects would be punishment camps for “scum”, a spokesman for the city mayor stressed that the special residential units would aim to enforce good behaviour.

“The aim is not to reward people who behave badly with a new five-room home with a south-facing garden. This is supposed to be a deterrent,” he said.

The tough approach taken by Mr van der Laan appears to jar with Amsterdam’s famous tolerance for prostitution and soft drugs but reflects hardening attitudes to routine anti-social behaviour that falls short of criminality.

There are already several small-scale trial projects in the Netherlands, including in Amsterdam, where 10 shipping container homes have been set aside for persistent offenders, living under 24-hour supervision from social workers and police.

Under the new policy, from January next year, victims will no longer have to move to escape their tormentors, who will be moved to the new units.

A team of district “harassment directors” have already been appointed to spot signals of problems and to gather reports of nuisance tenants.

The Dutch Parool newspaper observed that the policy was not a new one. In the 19th century, troublemakers were moved to special villages in Drenthe and Overijssel outside Amsterdam. The villages were rarely successful, becoming sink estates for the lawless.

“We have learned from the past,” said the mayor’s spokesman. “A neighbourhood can deal with one problem family but if there are more the situation escalates.”

DARPA: A Glimpse of Future Advanced Weaponry

Lasers generate irradiance levels strong enough to be  lethal, but are far more accurate, precise, and damage-limiting than conventional weapons. In particular, compact EXCALIBUR laser systems could be mounted on aircraft, enabling aerial strikes with pinpoint accuracy

Tactical and Weapons Projects

geopoliticalmonitor.com | Dec 3, 12

by Zak Rose

DARPA logoCROSSHAIRS (Counter Rocket-Propelled Grenade and Shooter System with Highly Accurate Immediate Response) – This program aims to develop an all-in-one, vehicle-mounted , detection and weapons unit that will be able to locate enemy ambushers and snipers while moving or while stopped. It will also be designed with the capability to destroy incoming threats, such as rocket-propelled grenades and mortars, by firing directly on them using automated, radar guided weapons.

Given combat theatres such as Afghanistan and Iraq, where small, hit and run tactics such as roadside RPG attacks are common, this technology could potentially engender a substantial reduction in casualties and lost equipment.

ChemBots (Chemical Robots) -This program, the product of cooperation between DARPA and technical research institutions such as MIT and Harvard, is developing surveillance robots that are small, flexible, and that use material-chemistry technologies such as gel-solid transitions to physically alter their shape in order to manoeuvre through small, irregularly shaped openings in enemy perimeters.

Chembots would broaden the military’s ability to conduct surveillance in hostile spaces, assisting in covert operations and providing a boon to national intelligence, which would better inform policy decisions regarding suspected nuclear or WMD programs, for example.

EXACTO (Extreme Accuracy Tasked Ordnance) – This project seeks to revolutionize the practice of military sniping. It will create the first-ever guided 50-calibre round, which will be capable of adjusting its own course mid-air using information from an optic sensor system. The value of a successful, self-correcting sniper round is substantial. Failed sniper shots notify enemies of an imminent attack, leading to unnecessary engagements that risk personnel and equipment.

EXCALIBUR – This project seeks to deploy directed weapons lasers that are many times smaller and lighter than current technology allows. These lasers generate irradiance levels strong enough to be  lethal, but are far more accurate, precise, and damage-limiting than conventional weapons. In particular, compact EXCALIBUR laser systems could be mounted on aircraft, enabling aerial strikes with pinpoint accuracy, limiting collateral damage. This level of precision would ease the political and ethical consequences with which defence forces struggle when they are forced to engage military targets in civilian areas.

HELLADS (High Energy Liquid Laser Area Defense System) – A system that compliments the EXCALIBUR project, HELLADS seeks to use a similar technology in order to mount defensive lasers on aircraft, capable of intercepting and destroying enemy surface-to-air weapons. The increasing sophistication of anti-air weaponry has been identified as a severe threat, and the development of the HELLADS project would substantially counter this danger, saving lives and equipment in future sorties.

Disc-Rotor Compound Helicopter – This technology essentially combines the capabilities of traditional, high speed aircraft and a helicopter.  Its current design is a fixed-wing, airplane-like vehicle with retractable helicopter blades mounted on a disc above the fuselage. The Compound Helicopter, therefore, will have the survivability and speed of an airplane but will be able to transition fully into a helicopter with vertical liftoff, landing, and hover modes for troop and cargo insertion.

Nano Air Vehicle – This program seeks to develop very small and very light vehicles to perform surveillance and potentially other kinds of military missions in all environments. These vehicles could be disguised, for example, as a hummingbird, using technology modelled after flapping wings and other aerodynamic techniques. The covert nature and lightweight design of NAVs would be extremely useful in urban combat settings, where bulky equipment is a hindrance and where ambushes and surprise attacks are a constant danger. By using NAV technology to perform missions discretely, service-members reduce the risks associated with revealing their position and operating heavy equipment in a hostile urban environment where the layout may be largely unknown.

Assured Arctic Awareness – This program seeks to develop an automated, unmanned sensor net capable of being deployed for long periods of time in arctic conditions, all with little need for maintenance.  Still in the research phase, DARPA aims to create a long-term monitoring system above and below the ice. This would drastically reduce the cost and resources necessary for the United States to project its presence in the disputed arctic region – sovereignty over which will become increasingly important as the resources therein are developed – as they currently conduct monitoring and surveillance using ships and submarines or expensive unmanned equipment such as satellites.

Lightweight Ceramic Armor (LCA) – This technology envisions a considerable advantage for soldiers deployed in the field, as present armour technologies are extremely heavy, fatiguing, and bulky, which means an overall reduction in mobility. Body armour made from ceramic materials would be equally effective but far lighter and thinner, offering the same protection without compromising mobility or causing fatigue. It is estimated that physical fatigue is among the leading causes of compromised combat-readiness among US armed forces, so LCA would present a significant improvement in military performance.

 

Medical Projects

 

Fracture Putty – This malleable material would be used to treat compound bone fractures suffered by friendly personnel. When packed around the fractured bone, it would harden, similar to a kind of internal cast, providing fast load-bearing support to the bone while it healed normally. Eventually the putty would be reabsorbed harmlessly by the body. This project would increase overall combat readiness by reducing the long-term treatment and recovery time service-members currently face for broken bones, and by reducing the incidence of complications such as persistent pain and infection that arise as a result of conventional treatments such as rods and screws.

Dialysis-Like Therapeutics – This technology is creating a relatively small, light-weight device capable of draining contaminated blood from infected service members, treating the blood to remove toxic elements, and returning the blood to the body, much like current dialysis treatments. Portable technology like this would contribute significantly to reducing the strain on operations in the field, as infections in the bloodstream affects more than a thousand service members a year.

 

Logistics Projects

 

Legged Squad Support System (LS3) – This project is developing a robotic load-bearing machine to accompany squads of troops in the field, similar to a pack animal. It will be able to carry 400lbs of equipment and will have the physical ability to move through any necessary terrain, while also serving as a portable backup power source. Physical fatigue has been identified as a one of the greatest threats to combat readiness, and a modern service-member in the field can often be responsible for over 100lbs of gear. The LS3 is expected to greatly improve overall mission effectiveness.

Vulcan – This is a major project involving contracts from the private sector to develop turbines and engines for heavy military vehicles which utilize a combustion technology designed to consume much less fuel, known as pressure gain combustion. This project is currently exploring applying this technology to ship propulsion and aircraft turbines. As the global price of oil continues to rise, outfitting ships and aircraft with turbines that reduce their fuel consumption could save a substantial amount of money.

 

Cyber Security Projects

 

ADAMS  (Anomaly Detection at Multiple Scales) – Given the rise of digital technology and the massive systems that accompany it, cyber security and the protection of digital information is becoming increasingly important. With this in mind, DARPA has initiated the ADAMS project which aims to process and monitor enormous data sets of digital activity, with the ability to detect anomalous behaviour. The initial intent with such anomaly flagging is to detect compromising or malicious behaviour from within.

Plan X – Still in the formulation phase, Plan X represents an effort to understand and approach cyber warfare in a new paradigm. It aims to develop a platform that allows US defence departments to defend against, conduct, and train for cyber warfare. Such practices and capabilities will only become more important in the future, as the current trend in international conflict is moving away from conventional interstate war. With increased digitization of security and defence technologies, and the proliferation of non-state enemies who lack the means to conduct conventional warfare, cyber warfare is a growing threat which Plan X will help counter.

 

Zak Rose is a contributor to Geopoliticalmonitor.com 

Queens District Attorney: ‘No Crime to Throw Whistle-Blower Cop in Psych Ward’

huffingtonpost.com | Dec 3, 2012

NYPD TapesNeither the NYPD nor Jamaica Hospital committed a crime when they forcibly took whistleblower cop Adrian Schoolcraft from his home and held him in the hospital’s psych ward for three days against his will.

So says Queens District Attorney Richard Brown, whose office conducted a criminal investigation of the incident together with the NYPD’s Internal Affairs Bureau.

According to a draft report, which was obtained by NYPD Confidential, Brown concluded that the police and Jamaica hospital doctors acted reasonably because they believed Schoolcraft to be an emotionally disturbed person [EDP].

Crime Stat Manipulation in NYPD Targeted by Councilmember Report, Call for Investigation

“Medical personnel at Jamaica Hospital made their own independent assessment… determining that Mr. Schoolcraft’s hospital admission was medically required,” the draft report reads.

“While the conduct of police and medical personnel may give rise to questions as to the decision-making process to restrain Mr. Schoolcraft, and the medical decision to admit him as a psychiatric patient, the credible evidence does not support the allegation that the actions taken by police or medical personnel were with criminal intent.”

At the time of the incident, on Oct 31, 2009, Schoolcraft had become something of a department piñata after he alleged that commanders in the 81st precinct in Brooklyn, where he worked, had doctored crime statistics to make the city appear safer than it actually is.

Brown’s report notes that prior to his forced hospitalization, Schoolcraft had been placed on restricted duty for medical reasons, his shield and gun taken from him.

“On Oct. 31 he left his post at the precinct without express permission,” Brown’s report reads, “advising a sergeant he was leaving sick, and thereafter failed to respond to inquiries at his home. Given his medical status and his statement to his supervisor, police responded to his residence. When their numerous calls went unheeded and he failed to respond to numerous attempts by them at his door to determine his condition, the police entered the premises with a key obtained from his landlord.”

A law enforcement official familiar with Brown’s report said the police officers who entered his apartment initially wanted Schoolcraft to return to work at the precinct. The official said that after agreeing, Schoolcraft spoke by phone with his father and changed his mind.

Emergency medical personnel then determined that Schoolcraft needed medical assistance, the report reads. After initially agreeing to go to the hospital and walking to an ambulance, Mr. Schoolcraft returned to his apartment and refused medical treatment, said the report.

“That is when they concluded that he was an EDP,” the law enforcement official said.

An attorney familiar with Schoolcraft’s case said that Brown’s report would not affect Schoolcraft’s $50 million lawsuit against the city. Legally, the standard for criminality is different and much higher than for civil liability, the attorney said.

“Practically, to the extent that the public views the report as exonerating the police department, the report could affect how the public perceives Schoolcraft,” the attorney added.

Filed in the summer of 2010, Schoolcraft’s lawsuit alleges that the police department kidnapped and conspired with Jamaica Hospital to imprison him with no medical justification, in retaliation for his whistle-blowing.

The attorney, who spoke on condition of anonymity, also noted that Brown’s office is perceived as “police friendly.”

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a top official in Brown’s office said, “This office is fact and law friendly and we go wherever the facts and the law take us regardless of who that makes happy or unhappy.”

One person who questioned the report’s conclusions was Frank Serpico, who blew the whistle on the NYPD’s systemic and pervasive corruption 40 years ago. Serpico, who has befriended Schoolcraft, pointed out that questioning Schoolcraft’s mental state “was exactly what they did to me.”

Just before the NY Times published Serpico’s corruption allegations across its front pages in 1970, Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger received a phone call. The caller warned him against publishing Serpico’s allegations because, the caller said, Serpico was unstable and not to be trusted. That caller was then Mayor John Lindsay.

“We seem to have gotten nowhere in 40 years,” Serpico said. “You put a sane man in a psycho ward and it’s not a crime?

“We have the same rhetoric and the same cover up,” he said.

An internal police investigation subsequently confirmed Schoolcraft’s charges against his precinct commanders, resulting in the discipline or transfers of four of its top officers.

Amidst concerns by police union officials and two academics that such downgrading of crimes was city-wide, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly announced in January, 2011, the appointment of a blue-ribbon fact-finding committee composed of three former prosecutors.

Although Kelly promised a report within three to six months, none has been produced nearly two years later.

Meanwhile, the Schoolcrafts, father and son, have been struggling both emotionally and financially, say people who know them. They have moved to the Albany area. They are said to have no money and may be evicted from their home because of their inability to pay rent.

Jon Norinsberg, whom Adrian Schoolcraft recently fired as his lawyer, declined comment on Brown’s report.

Richard Gilbert, a Manhattan attorney whom Schoolcraft has hired to replace Norinsberg, declined to comment on any aspect of the case.

Schoolcraft could not be reached for comment.

THE NYPD’S LONG ARM. Nearly six months after a graffiti artist spray-painted the Brooklyn Bridge, exposing a giant hole in Police Commissioner Ray Kelly’s anti-terrorism safety net, the NYPD has caught up with him.

This graffiti artist had somehow managed to tag his name — Lewy — on what Kelly has maintained is an iconic terrorist target — and one that he has claimed has been literally under police watch day and night.

Readers of NYPD Confidential may remember that attacking the Brooklyn Bridge was one of the so-called 14 plots against the city that Kelly once took credit for preventing single-handedly. He has subsequently acknowledged that the FBI helped to foil virtually all of them.

None of Kelly’s plots got more mileage than that of the Brooklyn Bridge.

In 2002, after Iyman Faris — an Ohio trucker who reported to the highest levels of Al Qaeda — abandoned his plan to dismember the bridge, Kelly concocted the fairytale that Faris did so after spotting NYPD patrol cars at the bridge’s entry ramps.

Hahaha. While Faris’ plan was real, the reason he abandoned his plan was that he realized he lacked the necessary “gas cutters,” to sever the bridge’s suspension cables. [See NYPD Confidential July 9, 2012.]

Although Kelly has maintained that patrol cars continue to guard the bridge’s entry ramps round- the-clock and that a police boat patrols nearby in the East River, this Lewy was somehow able last June to climb to one of the bridge’s stanchions 119 feet over the Eat River and tag his name in three places.

So how did Lewy do it? Did he use a rope? A scaffold? Lights? Did he have accomplices? How long did all this take him? Most important, where were the cops in those patrol cars at the entry ramps and in the police boat? Perhaps a Lewy a mole inside the NYPD had put a sleeping potion in their coffee.

According to the NYPD’s Public Information Office, Lewy has been identified as Enno Tianen, 32, who the police said had been arrested numerous times for writing the same tag throughout the city. The department said he would be charged with criminal mischief in the second degree for making graffiti and with criminal mischief in the third degree for possessing a graffiti instrument. There was no mention of terrorism charges.

EMENDATION. Two weeks ago this column reported that Serpico maintained that his having been shot months before the Knapp Commission began hearings in 1971 was the result of the police department’s “setting him up.” Michael Armstrong, the counsel to the Knapp Commission and currently the head of the mayor’s Commission to Combat Police Corruption, took exception to that sentence and wrote:: “Frank, at the time, emphatically and repeatedly denied to me that he had any belief that he had been set up to be shot by anyone, much less by the “department” as part of some sort of official revenge.  He was angry that his fellow cops didn’t come to his aid fast enough, but specifically rejected the idea that they had deliberately put him in harm’s way.”

With editing from Donald Forst

Heavy snowfall and extreme cold temperatures give new life to glaciers

Overall, speed of melting of glaciers has reduced over the past few years

TNN | Dec 3, 2012

by Suresh Sharma

MANALI: With high-altitude mountains in Himachal Pradesh experiencing up to 100 cm fresh snowfall in November month after 10 years, the abundance of snow on mountains has rejuvenated nearly one thousand glaciers and has ensured uninterrupted supply of water for drinking, irrigation and hydel projects.

Even after years of research on glaciers and climate of Himalayas, scientists have failed to learn the pattern of the weather here. While scanty snowfall and rising temperature in last decade had sparked the possibilities of fast shrinking of glaciers, good spells of snowfall in last three years have changed the trend with glaciers almost growing to their original size. Some scientists say that despite heavy snowfall in winters, the extreme heat in summers is causing the melting of the glaciers with abnormal speed and others say extreme cold in winters is neutralizing the minor effect of risen temperature in summer. Overall, speed of melting of glaciers has reduced over the past few years only due to good snowfall in winter months.

Bara Shigri, Dhaka, Beas Kund, Sonapani, Gora, Gangstang, Miyad, Gyephang, Bhadal, Chandra, Bhaga, The Lady of Keylong, Nahan, Dudhon, Parbati and Perad are some of the prominent glaciers in Himachal which give birth to hundreds of brooks and rivers. According to scientists, global warming has changed the pattern of snowfall on Himalayas. Though it could be harmful for the weather-cycle, good amount of snowfall help glaciers retain water.

“Global warming is a contentious issue but it’s a reality,” said J C Kuniyal, senior scientist with GB Pant Institute of Himalayan Environment and Development, who is studying the behaviour of Himalayan environment for many years. “It’s good that our receding glaciers are receiving good amount of snow. Glaciers not only play an important role in balancing life of flora and fauna, but presence of snow on mountains also helps in balancing the temperature. Snowfall would give new life to underground water sources,” he said.

The 11-km-long Bara Shigri is the largest glacier in Himachal, but is shrinking very fast. The Dhaka glacier in Chandrabhaga mountain ranges is also losing its length, width and height. This was proved beyond doubt when wreckage of an AN-12 aircraft which remained beneath the glacier since 1968 recently surfaced due to melting of snow. However, the thick layer of fresh snowfall has again built a safety wall on all the glaciers. The extreme cold temperature is another advantage as melting of snow has stopped almost completely.

According to Kuniyal, changing pattern of weather, which is causing extreme weather conditions and shifting of the seasons, is a matter of concern. “Snowfall is good but heavy snowfall in lower and new areas and scanty snowfall on higher areas is sign of global warming. For now, regular spells of snowfall are good for vegetation and hydel projects as there would be enough moisture and water in summer months.”

The Himalayas comprise about 15,000, glaciers which include more than 1,000 glaciers in Himachal and they store around 12,000 cubic kilometres of fresh water. Good snowfall in Himachal is beneficial for Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh and other neighbouring provinces, besides Pakistan, which get water from the state.

November colder than normal across New Zealand, record cold temperatures recorded

November colder than normal across New Zealand

tvnz.co.nz | Dec 4, 2012

by Jan MacKenzie

Unseasonally frosty flowers near Patearoa, Central Otago.  - Source: Supplied by Jan MacKenzie

Unseasonally frosty flowers near Patearoa, Central Otago. – Source: Supplied by Jan MacKenzie

November was colder and drier than average across most parts of New Zealand, with some areas recording their coldest ever temperatures for the month, says NIWA’s monthly report.

It was the coldest November on record for Te Kuiti and Cape Campbell, with temperatures generally 0.5C – 1.2C below the November average everywhere else.

The conditions were caused by higher than usual pressures over the central and southern Tasman Sea and low pressures east of the Chatham Islands, which caused more frequent southerly winds. The higher pressures also extended across most of New Zealand, as far east as Gisborne, making it a dry month for many regions.

Well below average temperatures (more than 1.2C below the November average) were observed in eastern areas of both islands, as well as inland North Island areas from the Waikato extending southwards to Palmerston North.

The highest temperature was 30.1C, observed at Blenheim on November 25, while the lowest temperature was -5.1C, recorded at Waiouru on November 7.

Te Puke and Rotorua experienced their driest ever Novembers, while rainfall was less than 50% of normal levels in south Auckland, Waikato/Coromandel, Bay of Plenty, between Wanganui and Wellington, parts of the Wairarapa, Nelson, Marlborough, Buller, and on the West Coast northwards of Hokitika.

Below normal November rainfall (between 50-79% of November normal) was generally observed elsewhere. The notable exceptions were Gisborne and northern Hawkes Bay (with double normal November rainfall), and south Canterbury and much of Otago (with above normal rainfall, between 120-149% of November normal).

The highest one-day rainfall experienced was 137mm at Milford Sound on November 1, while the sunniest November on record was recorded for Hokitika and Greymouth.

Of the six main centres in November 2012, Tauranga was the driest and sunniest, Dunedin the wettest and coolest, and Auckland the warmest but cloudiest.

The nationwide average temperature in November 2012 was slightly below the 1971-2000 November average, according NIWA’s records, which began in 1909.

NIWA predicts the coming summer season will be relatively dry and cool around New Zealand, particularly in the East Coast and central North Island.

Secession could be the more peaceful solution

columbiatribune.com |Dec 3, 2012

By WALTER WILLIAMS

sc-secessionFor decades, it has been obvious that there are irreconcilable differences between Americans who want to control the lives of others and those who wish to be left alone. Which is the more peaceful solution: Americans using the brute force of government to beat liberty-minded people into submission or simply parting company? In a marriage, where vows are ignored and broken, divorce is the most peaceful solution. Similarly, our constitutional and human rights have been increasingly violated by a government instituted to protect them. Americans who support constitutional abrogation have no intention of mending their ways.

Since Barack Obama’s re-election, hundreds of thousands of petitions for secession have reached the White House. Some people have argued that secession is unconstitutional, but there’s absolutely nothing in the Constitution that prohibits it. What stops secession is the prospect of brute force by a mighty federal government, as witnessed by the costly War of 1861. Let’s look at the secession issue.

At the 1787 constitutional convention, a proposal was made to allow the federal government to suppress a seceding state. James Madison, the acknowledged father of our Constitution, rejected it, saying: “A Union of the States containing such an ingredient seemed to provide for its own destruction. The use of force against a State would look more like a declaration of war than an infliction of punishment and would probably be considered by the party attacked as a dissolution of all previous compacts by which it might be bound.”

On March 2, 1861, after seven states had seceded and two days before Abraham Lincoln’s inauguration, Sen. James Doolittle of Wisconsin proposed a constitutional amendment that said, “No State or any part thereof, heretofore admitted or hereafter admitted into the Union, shall have the power to withdraw from the jurisdiction of the United States.”

Several months earlier, Reps. Daniel Sickles of New York, Thomas Florence of Pennsylvania and Otis Ferry of Connecticut proposed a constitutional amendment to prohibit secession. Here’s my no-brainer question: Would there have been any point to offering these amendments if secession were already unconstitutional?

On the eve of the War of 1861, even unionist politicians saw secession as a right of states. Rep. Jacob Kunkel of Maryland said, “Any attempt to preserve the Union between the States of this Confederacy by force would be impractical, and destructive of republican liberty.”

The Northern Democratic and Republican parties favored allowing the South to secede in peace. Just about every major Northern newspaper editorialized in favor of the South’s right to secede. New York Tribune (Feb. 5, 1860): “If tyranny and despotism justified the Revolution of 1776, then we do not see why it would not justify the secession of Five Millions of Southrons from the Federal Union in 1861.” Detroit Free Press (Feb. 19, 1861): “An attempt to subjugate the seceded States, even if successful, could produce nothing but evil — evil unmitigated in character and appalling in content.” The New York Times (March 21, 1861): “There is growing sentiment throughout the North in favor of letting the Gulf States go.”

There’s more evidence seen at the time our Constitution was ratified. The ratification documents of Virginia, New York and Rhode Island explicitly said that they held the right to resume powers delegated, should the federal government become abusive of those powers. The Constitution would have never been ratified if states thought they could not maintain their sovereignty.

The War of 1861 settled the issue of secession through brute force that cost 600,000 American lives. Americans celebrate Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, but H.L. Mencken correctly evaluated the speech, “It is poetry, not logic; beauty, not sense.” Lincoln said that the soldiers sacrificed their lives “to the cause of self-determination — that government of the people, by the people, for the people should not perish from the earth.” Mencken says: “It is difficult to imagine anything more untrue. The Union soldiers in the battle actually fought against self-determination; it was the Confederates who fought for the right of people to govern themselves.”

T.S.A. Skips a Hearing on Terminating the T.S.A.

TSA

nytimes.com | Dec 3, 2012

By JOE SHARKEY

Representative Reid Ribble fixed witnesses assembled at a House aviation subcommittee hearing last Thursday with a baleful stare.

“I am very disappointed that the T.S.A. was unwilling to come,” said Mr. Ribble, a freshman Republican from Wisconsin. “I understand how uncomfortable these hearings can be for them, especially since we’re talking about a lot of complaints today. But part of their job is to let the American people know what they’re doing.”

The director of the Transportation Security Administration, John S. Pistole, had declined to testify before this particular subcommittee on two previous occasions, despite angry criticism from some members who are longtime agency critics.

The reason, the agency later explained, is that oversight for the T.S.A. resides in the House Homeland Security Committee — not the aviation subcommittee, which is a part of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. The agency noted that in the 112th Congress alone, officials had testified at 38 hearings and provided 425 individual briefings.

So the T.S.A. sat out that one last week — and got lambasted for it, at both the hearing and in some media accounts.

No one would argue that the T.S.A. should not be held closely accountable. There have been too many problems. Since the agency was created in the aftermath of Sept. 11, this column has regularly reported on many of them, like the outrage that began in 2004 over charges that some screeners were groping female travelers. More recently, the agency faced questions about its decision to replace metal detectors with those whole-body image machines, which the T.S.A. still has not adequately defended against claims that they are personally invasive, arguably unsafe and ultimately not as reliable as good old metal detectors.

On the other hand, the hearing last Thursday seemed to have an agenda, which was that the T.S.A. should be replaced by private security companies — you know, like the ones that were accused of hiring poorly trained, underpaid screeners at airports before Sept. 11 brought a somewhat more intense focus to checkpoint security.

One of the leaders of that charge is Representative John L. Mica, a Florida Republican who is chairman of the House Transportation Committee. At Thursday’s subcommittee hearing, Mr. Mica said that the T.S.A. was “out of control.” He said Mr. Pistole was defying the committee to protect “one of the biggest bureaucracies that has ever expanded in the history of our federal government.”

Mr. Mica said, “We need to be closing down T.S.A. as we know it.” Representative Thomas Petri, a Wisconsin Republican who is the subcommittee chairman, was even more harsh in denouncing Mr. Pistole and his agency. “A fish,” Mr. Petri said, “rots from the head.”

Underlying the issue is a Congressional provision that gives airports the option of replacing T.S.A. screeners with private security companies. Only about 16 of the nation’s 450 airports have done so, and a handful of mostly small airports have requests pending.

Five witnesses testified at the sparsely attended hearing on Thursday. Several, including Stephen M. Lord, director of homeland security and justice issues at the Government Accountability Office, offered cogent suggestions and critiques for various T.S.A. initiatives, including the PreCheck program that allows expedited security for selected high-frequency passengers who undergo background checks. PreCheck will operate in 35 airports by the end of the year. Another, Charlie Leocha, the director of the Consumer Travel Alliance, offered some solid recommendations, most of them long familiar to critics of the T.S.A. Among them was rethinking the prohibited items list for carry-ons, which ties up screeners and annoys passengers at checkpoints, in an arguably useless search for small items that could never be used to hijack airplanes. Another was to get rid of those body-scanner machines.

Michael Bloomberg ‘asked Hillary Clinton to succeed him’ as New York mayor

Clinton 2008

Michael Bloomberg reportedly tried to persuade Hillary Clinton to succeed him as mayor of New York but was told she had no interest in the job.

Telegraph | Dec 4, 2012

The New York Times said that the mayor was not entirely happy with the calibre of candidates competing to replace him and thought the Secretary of State, who has announced her intention to retire soon, would be the ideal replacement.

Mr Bloomberg, founder of the eponymous data services firm and the 10th richest person in the US, must stand down at the end of next year after 12 years.

Mrs Clinton is a former senator for New York, but her fellow Democrats in the city said the idea of her seeking office there struck them as improbable, whether or not she mounts a second run for the White House in 2016, which has been heavily rumoured.

“As much as anything, they said, Mr Bloomberg’s encouragement seemed to reflect his lofty view of the office — and himself,” the New York Times said.

“He is looking for somebody he can feel comfortable handing the reins over to,” said Hank Sheinkopf, a New York City political operative who worked on Mr. Bloomberg’s last campaign.

Mr Bloomberg’s overture to Mrs Clinton may come as a disappointment to Christine Quinn, the city council speaker, whom he is considered likely to endorse. Mrs Quinn cleared the way for this third term by supporting an extension of the city’s mayoral term limits changed from two terms of four years to three.

Spokesman for Mr Bloomberg and Mrs Clinton declined to comment.

Cold snap deepens as Fairbanks officially drops to minus 40

6T1_hibernatingbikesCarol Pritchard took this photo of “bikes in hibernation” at 1:30 p.m. Sunday on the University of Alaska Fairbanks campus. It was minus 32 degrees. The temperature at Fairbanks International Airport officially reached 40 below zero on Monday.

Other parts of the eastern Interior drop to more than 50 below.

newsminer.com | Dec 4, 2012

by Tim Mowry

FAIRBANKS – It’s now officially a cold snap.

Fairbanks recorded its first 40-degree below zero temperature of the winter at Fairbanks International Airport early Monday night.

The mercury hit 40 below at 6:41 p.m., the coldest temperature so far in Fairbanks during a week-long cold snap that has seen temperatures in other parts of the eastern Interior drop to more than 50 below.

Ironically, the temperature climbed up to 30 below, the high for the day, about six hours later at 11:59 p.m. when some clouds moved in, said meteorologist Rick Thoman at the National Weather Service in Fairbanks.

But the clouds moved out shortly thereafter and the temperature dropped again. The coldest temperature so far today at the airport is 38 below at 11:06 a.m.

On average, Fairbanks has 11 days each winter when the temperature hits 40 below or colder.

Clouds are expected to move into the central Interior later today, which could bring slightly warmer temperatures — 10 to 25 below — and even a few snow flurries but it won’t amount to much, Thoman said.

“We might get one-tenth of an inch to break our streak,” he said, referring to a stretch of 24 days without snow at the airport.