Daily Archives: January 9, 2013

America Is Being Systematically Transformed Into A Totalitarian Society

rightsidenews.com | Jan 7, 2013

by American Cream

policestateIf someone were to ask you for an example of a “totalitarian society”, how would you respond?  Most Americans would probably think of horribly repressive regimes such as the Soviet Union, Nazi Germany, Communist China, East Germany or North Korea, but the truth is that there is one society that has far more rules and regulations than any of those societies ever dreamed of having.

In the United States today, our lives are governed by literally millions of laws, rules and regulations that govern even the smallest details of our lives, and more laws, rules and regulations are constantly being added.  On January 1st, thousands of restrictive new laws went into effect all over America, but most Americans have become so accustomed to the matrix of control that has been constructed all around them that it does not even bother them when even more rules and regulations are put into place.  

In fact, a growing number of Americans have become totally convinced that “freedom” and “liberty” must be tightly restricted for the good of society and that “the free market” is inherently dangerous.  On the national, state and local levels, Americans continue to elect elitist control freaks that are very eager to tell all the rest of us how to run virtually every aspect of our lives. According to Merriam-Webster, the following is one of the ways that the word “totalitarian” is defined: “of or relating to a political regime based on subordination of the individual to the state and strict control of all aspects of the life and productive capacity of the nation especially by coercive measures”.

And that is exactly what we are witnessing in America today – nearly all aspects of our lives and of the economy are very tightly controlled by a bunch of control freaks that just keep tightening that control with each passing year.  We still like to call ourselves “the land of the free”, but the truth is that we are being transformed into a totalitarian society unlike anything the world has ever seen before.

Where will we end up eventually if we keep going down this road? If you still believe that America is “free”, just consider some of the things that are illegal in America today…

-Starting on January 1st, it is now illegal to make or import 75 watt incandescent light bulbs anywhere in the United States.

-In Oregon, it is illegal to collect rainwater that falls on your own property.

-In New Jersey, it is illegal to have an “unrestrained” cat or dog in your vehicle while you are driving.

-If you milk your cow and sell some of the milk to your neighbor, you could end up having your home raided by federal agents.

-In Miami Beach, Florida you must recycle your trash properly or face huge fines.

-All over the United States, cops are shutting down lemonade stands run by children because they don’t have the proper “permits”.

-Down in Tulsa, Oklahoma one unemployed woman had her survival garden brutally ripped out and carted away by government thugs because it did not conform to regulations.

-Over in Massachusetts, all children in daycare centers are mandated by state law to brush their teeth after lunch.  In fact, the state even provides the fluoride toothpaste for the children.

-At one public school down in Texas, a 12-year-old girl named Sarah Bustamantes was arrested for spraying herself with perfume.

-A 13-year-old student at a school in Albuquerque, New Mexico was arrested by police for burping in class.

-All over the United States cities have passed laws that actually make it illegal to feed the homeless.

With each passing year, the number of decisions that we are allowed to make for ourselves gets smaller and smaller.

This includes some really fundamental things such as basic health decisions.

For example, the CDC will soon be recommending that nearly every single American be vaccinated for the flu every single year.  The following is from a recent Natural News article

An advisory panel to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recommended that every person be vaccinated for the seasonal flu yearly, except in a few cases where the vaccine is known to be unsafe.

“Now no one should say ‘Should I or shouldn’t I?’” said CDC flu specialist Anthony Fiore.

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices voted 11-0 with one abstention to recommend yearly flu vaccination for everyone except for children under the age of six months, whose immune systems have not yet developed enough for vaccination to be safe, and people with egg allergies or other health conditions that are known to make flu vaccines hazardous.

These “recommendations” are often made into mandatory requirements by school districts and employers all over the country.  Will employers all over the nation soon require all of their employees to take these vaccines each year based on these CDC “recommendations”?  This is already happening in the healthcare field.  Hundreds of healthcare professionals all over the nation are being fired for refusing to take certain vaccines.  It doesn’t matter that there is a tremendous amount of evidence that many of these vaccines are dangerous.  Many health professionals today are being faced with the choice of either submitting to the “recommendations” of the “experts” or losing their jobs.

We see this kind of “creeping totalitarianism” in the business world as well.  As I have written about previously, small businesses all over the country are being absolutely suffocated by mountains of laws, rules and regulations.

One of the biggest changes that small businesses will be dealing with in the next couple of years is Obamacare.  Many small businesses have been cutting back hours in an attempt to get around the new requirements contained in Obamacare.  The following is one example from a news story that was published earlier this week

Around 100 local Wendy’s workers have learned their hours are being cut. A spokesperson says a new health care law is to blame.

“Thirty-six to 37 hours a week.” That’s how many hours T.J. Growbeck works at the 84th and Giles Wendy’s restaurant. The money he earns helps him pay for the basics, but that’s not the case for all his co-workers. “There are some people doing it trying to get by.”

The company has announced that all non-management positions will have their hours reduced to 28 a week. Gary Burdette, Vice President of Operations for the local franchise, says the cuts are coming because the new Affordable Health Care Act requires employers to offer health insurance to employees working 32-38 hours a week. Under the current law they are not considered full time and that as a small business owner, he can’t afford to stay in operation and pay for everyone’s health insurance.

But the IRS has announced that it is going to make it very hard for employers to avoid these new Obamacare regulations.  According to new IRS rules, all firms that “have at least 50 full-time employees or an equivalent combination of full-time and part-time employees” will be required to provide healthcare for their employees and their dependents.  The following is from a recent New York Times article

Under the rules, employers must offer coverage to employees in 2014 and must offer coverage to dependents as well, starting in 2015.

The new rules apply to employers that have at least 50 full-time employees or an equivalent combination of full-time and part-time employees. A full-time employee is a person employed on average at least 30 hours a week. And 100 half-time employees are considered equivalent to 50 full-time employees.

Thus, the government said, an employer will be subject to the new requirement if it has 40 full-time employees working 30 hours a week and 20 half-time employees working 15 hours a week.

So conceivably an employer could have only part-time employees and still be required to provide healthcare coverage under Obamacare.

Of course many small businesses will not be able to afford to do this, so expect to see a significant number of them shut down or to try to survive with skeleton crews in 2014 and 2015.

As the number of laws, rules and regulations that govern our lives continues to multiply, the control freaks that run things will continue to try to use technology to watch us all and make sure that we are obeying their rules.

One way that they are doing this is with automated traffic cameras.  Of course much of the time the performance of these cameras is terribly flawed.  Just consider the following example which recently appeared in the Baltimore Sun

The Baltimore City speed camera ticket alleged that the four-door Mazda wagon was going 38 miles per hour in a 25-mph zone — and that owner Daniel Doty owed $40 for the infraction.

But the Mazda wasn’t speeding.

It wasn’t even moving.

The two photos printed on the citation as evidence of speeding show the car was idling at a red light with its brake lights illuminated. A three-second video clip also offered as evidence shows the car motionless, as traffic flows by on a cross street.

But even though technology sometimes fails, the control freaks that run things seem absolutely obsessed with using it to monitor us.  After all, there are so many of us and watching all of us is a very big job.

For example, did you know that listening devices are being installed on public buses all over the United States?  The following is from a recent Wired article

Transit authorities in cities across the country are quietly installing microphone-enabled surveillance systems on public buses that would give them the ability to record and store private conversations, according to documents obtained by a news outlet.

The systems are being installed in San Francisco, Baltimore, and other cities with funding from the Department of Homeland Security in some cases, according to the Daily, which obtained copies of contracts, procurement requests, specs and other documents.

According to the article, some of these systems are incredibly advanced and pair the audio that is being recorded with video that is being taken at the same time…

In Eugene, Oregon, the Daily found, transit officials requested microphones that would be capable of “distilling clear conversations from the background noise of other voices, wind, traffic, windshields wipers and engines” and also wanted at least five audio channels spread across each bus that would be “paired with one or more camera images and recorded synchronously with the video for simultaneous playback.”

But that is just one example of how the surveillance of the American people is rapidly growing.  For many more examples, please see my previous article entitled “29 Signs That The Elite Are Transforming Society Into A Total Domination Control Grid“.

If America continues down the path that it is on right now, the United States will eventually be transformed into a “Big Brother society” that is far more restrictive than anything George Orwell ever dreamed of.

We need a fundamental cultural revolution in this nation.  We need a revival of the principals of liberty and freedom that were so important during the founding days of this country.  We need to teach people that even though liberty and freedom may be unpredictable at times, such an environment is greatly preferable to a society where all of our decisions are made for us by a tiny elite.

Please share this article with as many people as you can.  Time is running out, and we need to wake up as many as we can while there is still time.

POLL: Congress Less Popular Than Cockroaches

businessinsider.com | Jan 8, 2013

by Walter Hickey

cockroaches-2A new poll from Public Policy Polling has found that Congress is less popular than a wide assortment of unpalatable things. 

The poll found that Congress had an abysmal approval rating of 9 percent, but where things really took a bad turn was when PPP compared it to better-known items of wildly unpopular things. 

Overall, people preferred root canals, the NFL replacement referees, lice, Nickelback, colonoscopies, political pundits, carnies, traffic jams, cockroaches, France, Genghis Khan, used car salesmen, Brussels sprouts, and even Donald Trump over Congress.

Obama Gives Congress an Undeserved Pay Raise

People still preferred Congress over telemarketers, the Kardashians and others, so all hope is not yet lost for the legislature.

 See the full poll here > 

In Prison for Protesting Drones

huffingtonpost.com | Jan 8, 2013

By John Dear

RQ-9_PredatorThis week, the president nominated the head of the U.S. drones program, responsible for killing hundreds, perhaps thousands, of innocent women and children in Afghanistan and Pakistan, to be his new head of the C.I.A. That is appropriate, because the C.I.A. runs the U.S. torture, rendition, assassination and mass murder program in conjunction with the Pentagon. Of course, all of this pure evil goes contrary to everything the nonviolent Jesus taught. What do we do? We protest the ongoing killings by these evil U.S. drones in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Yemen, continue to call for nonviolent conflict resolution, try to build a movement of nonviolence and take nonviolent risks to stop the killings.

My friend Brian Terrell has taken many nonviolent risks to say No to a future of drones and permanent war. A long time peace activist, a member of the Creech14, and a founder of the “Strangers and Guests Catholic Worker Farm” in Maloy, Iowa, he is currently serving six months in the federal prison in Yankton, South Dakota for protesting our evil U.S. drones program.

On April 15, 2012, Brian and two other friends walked onto the Whiteman Air Force Base in central Missouri to present a letter to the base commander calling for an end to the U.S. drone warfare. They tried to make the case that dropping bombs on women and children in Afghanistan and Pakistan will not lead to peace, much less improve our own security, but in fact, inspire thousands of people to join the violent movements against the United States. Of course, they were immediately arrested, tried, and sentenced in Federal Court. While our recent government war criminals, Wall Street criminals, and torturers go free, Brian is holed up in a cell in South Dakota.

His wife Betsy told me on the phone yesterday that she had a good New Year’s Day visit with Brian, and he recently wrote me an upbeat letter. He hopes to be released in late May. This is Brian’s third arrest for protesting drones. In an article for their newsletter, Brian described their action:

At the Whiteman base, Ron, Mark and I attempted, on behalf of a larger group of protestors, to deliver an “indictment” to Brigadier General Scott A. Vander Hamm, the base’s commander. Our indictment charged the chain of command, from President Obama to General Vander Hamm to the drone crews at Whiteman “with the following crimes: extrajudicial killings, violation of due process, wars of aggression, violation of national sovereignty, and the killing of innocent civilians.” It noted the fact that “extrajudicial targeted killings by the use of unmanned air-craft drones by the United States of America are intentional, premeditated and deliberate use of lethal force in violation of U.S. and international human rights law” and demanded that these crimes immediately cease. Our polite request to the base sentries for directions to headquarters to deliver the indictment was denied and our way blocked by military police who handcuffed us and took us away. Our thirty or so companions, clearly exercising the constitutionally-protected right to peaceably assemble for the redress of grievances, were chased off the property by about fifty Air Force personnel in full riot gear who performed a carefully if grotesquely choreographed drill routine, complete with goosesteps and synchronized grunts and beating of clubs on shields.

The notorious Whiteman AFB used to launch B-2 Stealth bombers that flew directly to Iraq, where they dropped their bombs, killed thousands of children, and then turned around and flew home to Missouri, just in time for their Air Force pilots to have dinner with their families. They were also used at the beginning of our war on Afghanistan. These days, Whiteman AFB is building up its Drones program, so that the killing can be done by remote control and robotic fighter bombers.

In his sentencing statement before the judge on October 11, 2012, Brian tried to make the case that the drones should be put on trial. Here’s an excerpt:

Each of the government’s witnesses, all of them Air Force police personnel, testified that participants in this protest were nonviolent, respectful and peaceable in assembling at Whiteman Air Force Base, a government installation, to petition that government for redress of a grievance, demanding that the remote control killing carried out daily from Whiteman cease. They testified that at no time, before or during our protest, did they perceive us as a threat. Our expert witnesses testified that our behavior was consistent with the activities that the drafters of the First Amendment intended to be protected, not persecuted, by the government. The order and security of the base would not have been compromised had the security police allowed us to proceed to the headquarters to deliver our petition. No testimony to the contrary was offered this court.

Instead of planning to accommodate a constitutionally protected peaceable assembly, however, the Air Force chose intimidation and conspired to deprive us of the rights they are sworn to protect. We learned from government witnesses that that the phalanx of goose-stepping riot police is a “Confrontation Management Team,” deployed only in the case of preannounced events. Whiteman security did not call out the Team to defend the base but to intimidate citizens engaged in lawful activities.

The court was mistaken a month ago when it said that our group was “allowed” to assemble on the highway right of way by the Air Force and that this space provided for us met free speech requirements of reasonable time and place. This place in question is not only outside the base’s jurisdiction, it is outside the sight and hearing of anyone on the base. The court’s decision is part of a widening disintegration of civil liberties, where speech is tolerated only in designated and remote “free speech zones” where it cannot be heard by the government, and criminalized in any place where that speech might actually have a chance to be understood. Intended or not, the court’s message is a chilling one- that a citizens’ constitutional right to assemble to petition the government extends only to places outside government facilities and where the government does not have to hear it. The court’s easy dismissal of international law as not “trumping” domestic law has precedents, but is all the more disturbing for this fact.

Last fall, I was on trial for a drone protest in a New York State where, in contrast to this court, former United States Attorney General Ramsey Clark was permitted to testify on international law. Judge Gideon, after listening to Ramsey Clark speak of the Nuremburg Principles at length, leaned over the bench and asked him, “This is all interesting, but what is the enforcement mechanism? Who is responsible for enforcing international law?” “They are,” responded Mr. Clark, pointing to us defendants, “and so,” he said to Judge Gideon, “are you!” Every citizen is responsible under international law and every judge more so.

In our trial here last month, as at our protest in April, our intention has been to put the illegally operated predator drones on trial and so we have focused on the machines that are sowing death and terror in Afghanistan and Pakistan by remote control from Whiteman Air Force Base. It was never our intention to address or to protest the weapons system that is the larger mission of Whiteman, namely the B-2 Stealth Bomber. However, Judge Whitworth, both in sentencing Mark Kenney and in our trial, you noted that your commitment to maintain the security of the B-2 weighs heavily in your decisions. For a judge to admit to being swayed by a consideration other than the law, not to mention when that consideration is the security of weapons of mass destruction, raises obvious questions about that judge’s impartiality.

For my part, Judge Whitworth, I am grateful to you for calling our attention to the larger picture. It is not, of course, the technology of robotics that we protest but the murderous and criminal uses the government puts it to. Drones are the weapon of choice in the current administration’s wars of aggression, but it was the B-2s from Whiteman that first violated Afghan airspace eleven years ago this week and began killing the people of Afghanistan. The crimes against humanity that began in October, 2001, with B-2 airstrikes on a defenseless civilian population continue today with drones operated from that very same base. The B-2 Bomber, blasphemously nicknamed the “Spirit Bomber,” is also ready at a moment’s notice to commit the ultimate and unthinkable war crime of delivering a first strike nuclear payload to any place on earth. A cold war boondoggle, the B-2’s stealth capability shields it from radar the Soviets never got around to developing before their own tragic empire finally imploded.

On the official website for Whiteman Air Force Base I found the base’s mission statement. It is as brief as it is vicious: “Skilled and proud Airmen providing full spectrum, expeditionary, B-2 global strike and combat support capabilities to geographic commanders and the Commander, US STRATCOM, while supporting Team Whiteman. We kick down doors and kill targets… Weapons on Target, On Time!”

I have visited Afghanistan and know that eleven years of NATO troops “kicking down doors” has not brought peace there. Often soldiers don’t seem to know whose door they’ve kicked in or whether the “target” they kill is who they are hunting for. B-2 bombers from a great height or even drones with state of the art video feed do no better. We know that even children are sometimes named as targets to be killed by drones. Children regularly are among their “collateral damage.” The targets themselves are often victims of assassination rather than legitimate casualties of war.

Eleven years of kicking down doors has only made the world a more frightening place and has earned our nation more enemies and less security. Whiteman’s mission is not counter-terrorism; it is terrorism. [See the Catholic Worker website: http://www.justpeace.org]

While Brian was settling in to the horrors of the U.S. prison system last month, I was visiting Afghanistan. There, the youth of the Afghan Peace Volunteers told me that no one there knows who is or who is not a member of the Taliban. How do the U.S. soldiers ten thousand miles away back in America know who are members of the Taliban, they asked me? Most of the drone raids end up killing women and children, they said, as they told me their stories of grief and death.

“When Gandhi was talking about the cycle of violence, I think he was talking about something just as provable as the laws of physics,” Brian told the local newspaper the day before entering prison (see “American Drone Strikes Must Stop,” Yankton Press, Nov. 30, http://www.yankton.net). “We’re taking the Golden Rule and turning it inside out. We’ll do unto other people the worst thing we could imagine happening to us so that it won’t happen to us. But you’re not going to stop your neighbor from wanting to hurt you by hurting your neighbor.”

“There is an Arab proverb that says that a true prophet is a person who can love at long distance,” Brian continued. “I think what the American people desperately need is, while we have this technology to kill people who are very far away and strange to us, to be at least as ready and work just as hard to figure out how we can love the people who are so far away. I think our best ethical, moral and religious energy needs to be put toward loving these people. Otherwise, we’re just making the world a much more dangerous and scary place.”

As we begin a new year, I invite us to heed the peace witness of Brian Terrell and consider what more we ourselves can do for peace. Change comes through grassroots movement building, creative nonviolent action, and nonviolent risks for justice and peace.

May Brian’s prison witness touch our hard-hearts and inspire us to do our part to end drones, bombs, torture, and warfare, once and for all.

Letters of support can be sent to: Brian Terrell, #06125-02, FPC Yankton, Fed. Prison Camp, P.O. Box 700, Yankton, South Dakota, 57078.

Drones fly over Calgary snapping photos

“Let’s face it, somebody’s going to do something bad”

CBC News | Jan 8, 2013

si-drone2Local real estate photographer Duane Wood has been using a small aerial camera to zoom over high-end properties and get the perfect shot — a bird’s eye view.

“We can shoot a house all we want, but at some point in time to really sell an acreage you need to see the land,” he said.

The new technology allows home buyers to get the perspective for only a few hundred dollars instead of hiring a helicopter and photographer for thousands.

Drone business is booming in the province, as more than 50 per cent of the country’s Unmanned Vehicle Services companies are located in Alberta because of wide-open spaces, minimal population and proximity to military bases.

But because Wood flies his small aircraft for money in Canadian airspace, he needs to apply for a Special Flight Operations Certificate each time.

“It’s for that particular job and it’s for that particular location,” he said. “If I deviate from that the certificate it is void.”
Rules vary for non-commercial drones

But rules that Wood has to follow for commercials purposes don’t translate to recreational drones, which require no permits.

One product is the Parrot Drone, which is controlled by a cell phone and takes pictures from the air.

PM Hobby Craft, a local store, told CBC News it is selling a lot of them.

Calgary Bylaw Services says it doesn’t have any rules for the emerging technology yet.

Tom Keenan, a technology expert and professor in the University of Calgary’s faculty of environmental design, says drone aircraft are very prevalent in the U.S. military and are being used for border control.

“What’s new is that anyone can have one now,” he said. “They’ve come down in price, they’re available to consumers and it turns out you’re able to fly it over your neighbour’s barbecue if you want.”

Keenan said the authority falls to Transport Canada, but it makes an interesting distinction.

“There’s unmanned aircraft and then there’s model aircraft,” he said.

“And the difference is a model aircraft is under 35 kilograms and not designed to carry a person or a living creature…So basically, these fall under that and they’re more or less unregulated.”

But Keenan expects regulations are on the horizon.

“Hopefully everybody will have common sense and respect their neighbour’s privacy and just go fly these out in the field or something, but let’s face it, somebody’s going to do something bad and there’s going to be a law,” he said.

CDC continues to track pharmacy-related illnesses

meningitis-steriid-story-top

vaccinenewsdaily.com | Jan 3, 2013

by Ted Purlain

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is continuing to track the number of patients with illnesses relating to the use of contaminated products from a Massachusetts-based compounding pharmacy.

The CDC said that it is still receiving reports of patients presenting symptoms of paraspinal or spinal infections, including epidural abscess, phlegmon, discitis, vertebral osteomyelitis and arachnoiditis. The syndromes have occurred in patients with and without additional evidence of the onset of fungal meningitis.

A map and corresponding table produced by the CDC shows 656 cases related to contaminated batches sent from the pharmacy to locations across the country. Michigan has identified 232 total cases, the largest number by far. Virginia, Tennessee, New Jersey and Indiana were also severely affected.

The New England Compounding Center, the pharmacy linked to the infections, is currently under investigation by federal and state authorities.

In response to the outbreak, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is now asking Congress to delineate and enhance its authorities over compounding pharmacies. Some in Congress have already voiced opposition to the idea, arguing that the agency already has too much power.

By law, compounding pharmacies like the New England Compounding Center, which sold the tainted steroid injections behind the outbreak, are regulated primarily by states. Despite having information in 2002 that NECC might be unsafe, the FDA could do little when the center’s chief pharmacist refused to cooperate with inspectors, according to Richmond.LegalExaminer.com.

Washington City police subject to monthly point system that looks like an awful lot like a quota system

Washington-City-Police-action-604x272

stgeorgeutah.com | Jan 8, 2013

by Joyce Kuzmanic

WASHINGTON CITY – An internal document outlining a point system for Washington City police officers is being characterized as a management tool that enhances the officers’ career development. But the system looks a lot like a quota requirement.

Point system measurements imposed upon police officers in correlation to the number of tickets they write or arrests they make have long been called “quotas” but agencies tend to decry the name “quotas” and are reluctant to publicize the practice.

(report continues below image)

Excerpt from Key Performance Indicators, Washington City Police Department | Screenshot Image by St. George News

Quotas are controversial because they raise public suspicion that law enforcement officers will dole out tickets by compulsion, for career advancement perhaps, and to meet budget needs of their city or state employers.

Both the systems and the names given those systems are subjects of argument and denial.

St. George News obtained a document and Public Information Officer Ed Kantor said by way of authentication that it was produced by Washington City Police Department’s case department management. The document, attached here, sets forth Washington City Police Department Key Performance Indicators.

Washington City P.D.’s Key Performance Indicators policy in summary

The Washington P.D. document sets forth a point system by which officers accrue points for specific actions:

– 25 points for self-initiated department programs / processes / procedures.

– 10 points for DUI arrests.

– 6 points for other arrests.

– 5 points for self-initiated public presentations.

– 3 points for traffic and misdemeanor citations.

– ½ point for written warning citations.

And the list goes on.

The policy sets minimum monthly point accrual requirements for Washington City’s police officers and suggests goals within several of the point-earning items. It enumerates evaluation categories in areas of policy, customer service and leadership. And it defines an accountability process through which officers meet monthly with their sergeants for performance evaluations predicated upon their point accrual and a series of remedial actions that may be taken should an officer flag in logging sufficient number of points. Remedies include discussion and counseling, written documented warning to increase performance and corrective action plan to deal with recurring issues.

Washington P.D.’s comment on its policy

The policy was developed for enhanced employee career development, Kantor said, with two main goals: (1) To measure an employee’s performance fairly and accurately through a process, to be able to be consistent through evaluation period to evaluation period with consistency, and (2) to supply the highest level of customer service possible to the citizens of Washington City.

These measures are ways to help an employee be successful

“And employees have to have a measure,” Kantor said, “it’s hard to do in law enforcement. These measures are ways to help an employee be successful; rather than just say ‘you never do anything, you’re fired,’ there has to be a process whereby supervisors and managers can help improve the career performance of employees.”

The policy provides the employee an opportunity to excel in law enforcement in areas in which they excel most, Kantor said. For example, if they don’t like writing traffic citations but they like making arrests, it helps them focus on where they want to go in their career, do they want to go into investigations? On the other hand, the system might show that an officer excels in writing citations and that might serve to encourage the officer to apply for a position in traffic division.

City of St. George Police Department’s comment on the point system policy

St. George Police Department’s Deputy Chief Richard Farnsworth said that St. George P.D. has nothing in the way of Washington City’s point system, as it was briefly described to him.

“We have an evaluation system but to put a standard of x number of citations, no,” he said.

We have no quota system, no reports system. We do not have a system where we assign points.

St. George has ways to track statistics overall – to keep crime statistics, to rate officers – but, Farnsworth said, “no structure that regulates performance. We have no quota system, no reports system. We do not have a system where we assign points.”

Quota or performance rating systems link to revenues

Point assignment systems suggest quotas and quotas suggest a correlation between the acts and the revenue – whether or not the policymaker calls it a quota.

In 2000, Utah’s Division of Wildlife Resources cooperated in a pilot “Performance Informed Budget,” a term the legislative committee decided on after debating other names for the pilot program such as “Performance Based Budget” and “Results Based Budgeting.” The Executive Summary of the report on that program includes the following statement:

“By whatever name, performance budgeting links appropriations to outcomes through the use of performance information in budget decision-making and the inclusion of performance indicators in the budget document.”

The DWR is a state agency that raises revenue through its own state police power and through less offense-oriented measures like application fees for hunting and fishing licenses. The 2000 report is detailed, itemizing, for example, application fees collected for a particular hunt over and above the number of licenses it allots to be issued for that hunt.

Whether it is the citing or arresting or licensing agency itself that draws the connection, or the state or city management under which it serves, traffic tickets, fines, application fees for hunting licenses, and the like all build revenue for the city or state. Is it likely that none of the powers that be are mindful of the connection or the tool that a performance measuring system offers in addressing budget issues?

In the future it is hoped there will be better linkage of budget recommendations to outcome measures, more performance targets

The executive summary of the 2000 DWR pilot Performance Informed Budget spoke directly on what it appraised as an advantage: “In the future it is hoped there will be better linkage of budget recommendations to outcome measures, more performance targets, and more time to focus on outcomes.”

A connection between Washington’s Key Performance Indicators and revenue goals was not something that Kantor would allow. He said, “the fines are levied by the courts, not the police. … To say that it is a budget line item doesn’t make any sense. We have nothing to do with the fines levied, amounts collected or how they are distributed.”

Similarly, St. George P.D.’s Farnsworth said, “Where we use the justice department, the Police Department does not see a return. Any revenue goes to the city. It comes to the city’s general fund. I can say our administration of this Police Department would not encourage enforcement for revenue.”

Both Washington’s Kantor and St. George’s Farnsworth agreed that officers should not be concerned with revenue building:

“The police are there to enforce the law,” Kantor said.

“None of those should be in the equation,” Farnsworth said, law enforcement “should not be based on economic factors; the right thing to do has to be in the interest of justice.”

Will Utah lawmakers intervene?

Concerns about quotas in law enforcement and the potential for negative consequences to the public by virtue of their connection to revenue building have led state representatives to entertain multiple bills over the years.

Introduced in 2000, 2007, 2008 and 2009, each of the separate bills sought essentially “to prohibit state and local governmental entities and law enforcement agencies from requiring or directing that their law enforcement officers issue within any specified time period a specific number of citations, complaints, or warning notices …”

Most of the bills failed in House committee or in the House, but one passed to the Senate in 2008, where it too failed and was returned to the House file. In other words, the bill was dead.

Fiscal notes by the Legislative Fiscal Analyst largely appraised the bills to have no direct, measurable costs to the local governments – which analysis may rebut arguments that quotas drive revenues and budgets drive quotas.

Except that, in 2007, the analysts’ fiscal note stated: “Any local entities currently using a quota system could see a reduction in the number of citations and related revenues.” Same office, why the difference in fiscal note?

a quota system – or “standard” as its then Police Chief Jon Greiner said

It may be because at that time, Ogden Police Department was receiving attention for its implementation of a quota system – or “standard” as its then Police Chief Jon Greiner said he preferred to call it.

According to a report by Cathy McKitrick published in The Salt Lake Tribune July 1, 2006, citation writing was one of several criteria then factored into pay raises for Ogden’s officers, and scoring points on performance evaluations was necessary to receiving pay increases.

Greiner opposed the succession of House Bills introduced by then House representative, Neil Hansen – representing Ogden – as did other police chiefs throughout the state, according to a report by Geoffrey Fattah, Deseret News, January 2007.

No similar bills have been introduced in Utah since the 2009 bill failed.

China May Perform Some Cosmetic Reforms on Gulag System of ‘Re-education’ Camps

child prisoners re-education
A Chinese policewoman guards child prisoners as they participate in a meeting to mark the 10-year anniversary of a re-education program at a youth jail in Guangzhou, back in 2002 Photo: REUTERS

“The risk is we’ll get re-education lite — a system that perpetuates the ability of police to deprive people of liberty for significant periods of time without trial or judicial oversight,” said Nicholas Bequelin, a senior researcher at Human Rights Watch. “My fear is that such a system would end up being harder to do away with.”

nytimes.com | Jan 7, 2013

By ANDREW JACOBS

BEIJING — China will start overhauling its draconian system of re-education through labor in the coming year, according to the state news media, signaling the incoming leadership’s determination to alter one of the government’s more widely despised cudgels for punishing petty criminals, religious dissidents, petitioners and other perceived social irritants.

The brief announcement on Monday, by the official Xinhua news agency, lacked details, but legal advocates said they were hopeful that the five-decade-old system for locking up offenders without trial would be significantly modified, if not abolished altogether.

“If true, this would be an important advance,” said Zhang Qianfan, a law professor at Peking University who has long pushed for the system’s demise. “It’s a tool that is widely abused.”

Established by Mao Zedong in the 1950s to swiftly neutralize political opponents, re-education through labor has evolved into a sprawling extralegal system of 350 camps where more than 100,000 people toil in prison factories and on farms for up to four years. Sentences are meted out by local public security officials, and defendants have no access to lawyers and little chance for appeal.

Since the 1980s, legal scholars and human rights advocates have been urging an end to the system and urging that the prosecution of minor offenses be shifted to criminal courts. The campaign has been re-energized in recent months by several cases, widely promoted in the news media, in which people were consigned to the camps for criticizing or simply annoying local party officials.

Among the more notable cases was that of Ren Jianyu, a college graduate turned village official in southwestern China who was sent to a work camp for “subversion” after investigators found in his closet a T-shirt that declared “Freedom or death.” In November, local officials, apparently cowed by a welter of condemnation in newspapers and on the Internet, cut short his two-year sentence.

A similar backlash also persuaded officials in Hunan Province last summer to free a woman, Tang Hui, who was given an 18-month sentence after she repeatedly protested that the seven men who had raped and forced her 11-year-old daughter into prostitution had been treated too leniently.

But any jubilation that the system might be on its way out was tempered by the manner in which the news emerged. Details of a conference held by top judicial and legal officials were reported online on Monday by a number of news media outlets — including word that the party would “stop using the system” within a year. Those accounts, however, were later deleted, leaving only the brief Xinhua account.

Chen Dongsheng, a bureau chief for the official Legal Daily who listened to a closed-circuit telecast of the meeting, told The Associated Press that Meng Jianzhu, chief of the Communist Party’s politics and law committee, had pledged to end the system, saying it had “played a useful role in the past, but conditions had now changed.”

But Mr. Chen’s microblog postings on the subject promptly disappeared, and he could not be reached for comment.

In its own report, Xinhua used the word “reform,” suggesting the changes to the system labor might be less than sweeping. Such changes could involve giving the system the legislative authority it currently lacks and subjecting decisions to some level of judicial review, although China’s party-controlled courts rarely rule in favor of defendants.

In a separate account of the same meeting, Xinhua included comments by Mr. Meng and Xi Jinping, the incoming president, but left out any mention of re-education through labor. Mr. Xi, who has promised to strengthen the nation’s legal system since his elevation to party secretary in November, reiterated his support for greater rule of law, saying the government should “improve empathy and public credibility of legal affairs work, striving to ensure that the public feels that justice is served in every law case.”

Rights advocates are pleased that the issue is on the leadership’s agenda but said that the devil would be in the details. Previous proposals for change, they noted, have included an 18-month cap on sentences, weekend furloughs for prisoners and access to lawyers for defendants. But such modifications alone, they said, would leave intact the bones of a system that violates international legal conventions as well as Chinese law.

“The risk is we’ll get re-education lite — a system that perpetuates the ability of police to deprive people of liberty for significant periods of time without trial or judicial oversight,” said Nicholas Bequelin, a senior researcher at Human Rights Watch. “My fear is that such a system would end up being harder to do away with.”

LAPD cops under investigation for luring women into an unmarked cars and forcing them to perform sex acts

The department suspects that the men repeatedly used the threat of jail to get women into their unmarked car and drove them to secluded areas to perform sex acts.

latimes.com | Jan 3, 2013

By Joel Rubin and Jack Leonard

Two Los Angeles Police Department officers are under investigation for allegedly preying on women over a period of five years, luring them into an unmarked car and forcing them to perform sex acts, according to court records.

Detectives from the LAPD’s internal affairs unit suspect that Officers Luis Valenzuela and James Nichols targeted at least four women whom they had arrested previously or who worked for them as informants, according to a search warrant reviewed by The Times.

The pair repeatedly used the threat of jail to get women into their car and drove them to secluded areas where one of the officers demanded sex while the other kept watch, the warrant alleges.

Valenzuela and Nichols worked together until recently as narcotics officers in the Hollywood Division. Investigators have identified four women who encountered the pair and made similar independent accusations against them.

The warrant cites sexually explicit text messages that one alleged victim claims she exchanged with the officers after their encounters. Last month, investigators obtained the woman’s cellphone and computers in hopes of finding the messages the officers are alleged to have written. The department has yet to examine the electronic devices, a police official said.

Investigators had planned to confront the officers in a surprise operation early next week, but were forced to accelerate those plans Thursday, when one of the women unexpectedly filed a lawsuit against the officers. Fearing that Valenzuela and Nichols might destroy evidence, investigators rushed to sequester the officers and seize their computers and phones, police confirmed.

LAPD Chief Charlie Beck emphasized Thursday that the investigation was ongoing, but added he was “saddened by the allegations. If they are true, it would be horrific,” he said.

Valenzuela, a 15-year department veteran, and Nichols, a 12-year veteran, were expected to be assigned to their homes pending the outcome of the probe, the head of the internal affairs group said. The officers could not be reached for comment.

The first woman to accuse Valenzuela and Nichols came forward in January 2010, when she told a supervisor in their narcotics unit that the officers had stopped her more than a year earlier, according to the warrant. The woman, who worked as a confidential informant for the narcotics unit and knew the men, said they were dressed in plain clothes and driving a Volkswagen Jetta. Valenzuela threatened to take the woman to jail if she refused to get in the car, then got into the back seat with her and exposed himself, telling the woman to touch him, the warrant said.

An investigation into the woman’s claim went nowhere when the detective assigned to the case was unable to locate her, according to the warrant.

A year later, however, another woman demanded to speak to a supervisor after being arrested and taken to the LAPD’s Hollywood station. Sometime in late 2009, according to the warrant, two officers driving a Jetta pulled up alongside her as she was walking her dog in Hollywood. The officers, whom she recognized as the same cops who had arrested her in a previous encounter, ordered her into the car, the woman recounted. It is not known why she was arrested.

Believing that the officers were investigating a case, the woman said she felt compelled to comply. Valenzuela then got into the back seat with the woman and handed her dog to Nichols, who drove the car a short distance to a more secluded area. “Why don’t you cut out that tough girl crap,” the woman recounted Valenzuela saying as he “unzipped his pants and forced [her] head down toward his lap and physically held her head down” as he forced her to perform oral sex on him, according to police records contained in the warrant.

The woman said she didn’t report the incident immediately because she felt humiliated, thought no one would believe her and feared for her safety. Police noted that the woman displayed erratic behavior while recounting the events. Later, she made violent threats while in custody and was transported to a hospital.

Based on this allegation, the department reopened the investigation into the pair. The investigator assigned to the case interviewed this second accuser and managed, as well, to find the first woman who had come forward the year before. She, too, gave a statement, saying she had refused Valenzuela’s commands to fondle him.

For reasons not explained in the warrant, the department’s investigation made little progress for the next 18 months. During this time, police records show, the officers were transferred, with Valenzuela being reassigned to the Olympic Division and Nichols to the Northeast Division. (Nichols was involved in the high-profile arrest last year of Brian C. Mulligan, an executive at Deutsche Bank, who alleged he was the victim of excessive force. Police contend that Mulligan, while deranged on drugs, charged at Nichols and suffered injuries while Nichols and his partner took him into custody).

Cmdr. Rick Webb, who heads the LAPD’s internal affairs group, declined to comment on the specifics of the probe, but said such cases are often difficult to complete.

The case picked up steam again in July 2012, when a man left a phone message for the vice unit at the Northeast station, saying he was a member of the Echo Park neighborhood watch and had been told by a prostitute that patrol officers in the area were picking up prostitutes and letting them go in exchange for oral sex, the warrant said.

Two more months passed before a third internal affairs officer was assigned to look into the Echo Park claim. The investigator was aware of the earlier allegations against Valenzuela and Nichols and “thought the circumstances and location were very similar.”

It is not clear how, but the investigator identified another two women who reported encounters in which Nichols and Valenzuela had sought sexual favors in exchange for leniency.

One said Nichols had detained her in July 2011, handcuffed her and driven her to a quiet location. Removing the restraints, Nichols exposed himself and said, “You don’t want to go to jail today, do you?” the woman recalled. Fearing she would be arrested, the woman performed oral sex on Nichols, who then released her, she said. She said Nichols had done the same thing to her six years earlier.

The other woman discovered by the internal affairs investigator alleged that she became a confidential informant for Valenzuela and Nichols after she was arrested, according to the warrant. Valenzuela, she said, told her that having sex with him would help her avoid jail, according to the warrant. She alleged that she had sex with the officer twice, once when he was off duty at her apartment in Los Angeles, and the second time in the back seat of an undercover police car while he was on duty. She said she was afraid he would send her back to jail if she refused.

She said Nichols contacted her in January 2011 and told her he would cancel her obligation to inform for him if she would have sex with him.

The woman filed a lawsuit against the city on Wednesday, alleging that the officers forced her to have sex with them several times in exchange for keeping her out of jail. The Times in general does not name the victims of alleged sex crimes.

That lawsuit was first reported by City News Service. Despite the officers’ promises, the woman was sentenced to jail in April 2011 and remains there, the lawsuit alleged. A district attorney’s spokeswoman said the woman is serving more than seven years in jail for possession of cocaine with intent to sell and identity theft.

The National Intelligence Council Predicts a Very Transhuman Future by 2030

exo-skeleton pushups
A soldier testing an exoskeleton prototype

vigilantcitizen.com | Jan 7, 2013

The National Intelligence Council is a high-level agency best known for producing National Intelligence Estimates – forecasts predicting future trends and issues of the next fifteen years. These extensive reports are produced every election year and are directly delivered to the  incoming President between Election Day and Inauguration Day. The latest NIC report released on December 2012 is called Global Trends 2030: Alternative Worlds (read it here) and discusses several issues such as the decline of the role of the United States as a global policeman and the rise of non-state actors in world politics. It also mentions another key issue: A fast-paced race towards transhumanism.

“Human Augmentation” is indeed considered a key issue in the next 15 years as new technologies will allow all kinds of modifications “ranging from implants and prosthetics to powered exoskeletons, human augmentation enhancing innate human abilities”. These augmentations would be used on soldiers, workers and anyone that can afford them, giving them “super-human” powers and capabilities, whether it be on a physical or a mental level.

Some might say: “That sounds cool VC, what is wrong with that? Why do you always say that it is wrong”. I personally never described transhumanism as being “right” or “wrong”, I do make these kinds of judgement calls. I however do have facts about the issue. First, transhumanism is undeniably being actively pushed by mass media and promoted as something that is necessary and inevitable in the future; Second, it is a logical continuation of the Luciferian philosophy held by the world elite where godhood and immortality is meant to be achieved by humans by their own means. In fact, Max More, a leading transhumanist philosopher considers himself as a “Luciferian”.

“The Devil—Lucifer—is a force for good (where I define ‘good’ simply as that which I value, not wanting to imply any universal validity or necessity to the orientation). ‘Lucifer’ means ‘light-bringer’ and this should begin to clue us in to his symbolic importance. The story is that God threw Lucifer out of Heaven because Lucifer had started to question God and was spreading dissension among the angels. We must remember that this story is told from the point of view of the Godists (if I may coin a term) and not from that of the Luciferians (I will use this term to distinguish us from the official Satanists with whom I have fundamental differences). The truth may just as easily be that Lucifer resigned from heaven.
– Max More, “In Praise of the Devil”.

Lastly, due to the prohibitive cost of “human augmentation”, transhumanism will only be available to the richest and most powerful people and the world (the world elite) and will created an even wider gap between the “masses” and the “elite”. The National Intelligence Council report states:

“The high cost of human augmentation means that it probably will be available in 15-20 years only to those who are able to pay. Such a situation may lead to a two-tiered society.”

Full Story

 

US Pumps Up Oil Output, Big Gains Seen for 2013

CNBC | Jan 8, 2013

By Patti Domm

100210362-money_oil_barrel_gettyp.240x160The growing role of the U.S. as a major energy producer is changing the dynamic of the energy market.

U.S. oil production continues to accelerate at a surprising rate, and the government now predicts the U.S. industry could pump 14 percent more oil this year alone. The use of non conventional drilling techniques in places like North Dakota and Texas has created an explosion in U.S. production to the point where the U.S. is expected to surpass Saudi Arabia in crude production by 2020, according to U.S. government statistics.

At the same time, the industry is developing more pipeline capacity to carry landlocked U.S. crude from storage in Cushing, Okla. to the Gulf Coast refining areas. That should continue to drive the trend, create more refined product for the U.S. and export markets, and bring down some oil prices in the next several years, according to the Energy Information Administration.

In the next few days, a significant pipeline expansion is coming on line as the Seaway pipeline adds 250,000 barrels a day in capacity from Cushing to its current 150,000 barrels. In anticipation, the market has compressed the spread between U.S.-produced West Texas Intermediate and the international bench mark Brent crude, to below $18, the narrowest level since September.

“There’s high hopes for what this Seaway pipeline will do for the WTI market, and that spread. There’s a lot of expectations around that right now,” said John Kilduff of Again Capital.

The energy market has been trading these macro trends, and on Wednesday traders will also have their eyes on the 10:30 a.m. ET EIA release of weekly oil and refined product inventory data. The American Petroleum Institute inventory data, released Tuesday afternoon, showed a surprise build in crude of 2.36 million barrels and a very large jump in gasoline stockpiles to 7.93 million barrels.

“It was extremely bearish tonight. If the EIA comes in with a build like that tomorrow, it could break the back of the recent crude rally and we could see gasoline prices flirt with $3 on a national average in coming weeks,” Kilduff said.

The EIA also released its short-term outlook Tuesday, which included raised expectations for 2013 and its first forecast for 2014.

It said U.S. oil production, already at a 15-year high, is now expected to rise to 7.3 million barrels per day in 2013. That’s 300,000 more than its December forecast, and 900,000 barrels per day more than what was produced in 2012. It also expects 2014 production to increase to 7.9 million barrels, the highest since 1988. That is up from a low of 5 million barrels in 2008.

The result could be lower prices. The EIA forecasts Brent could fall to $105 next year, and to $99 in 2014, from its 2012 average of $112. It expects WTI to trade an average $89.54 in 2013, and $91 in 2014. The spread between WTI, trading at about $93 Tuesday, and Brent, trading at $111.82 Tuesday, should continue to narrow to $16 in 2013, and to $8 in 2014.

“We were having trouble getting oil to market because of that bottleneck in Cushing, and that’s one of the things that the pipeline is supposed to help,” said Gene McGillian, analyst with Tradition Energy. McGillian said the oil market also has its eye on Washington, and trading has been more volatile as a result.

“The idea that the spending cuts and the debt ceiling weren’t dealt with keeps the market focused on economic issues,” he said.

Andrew Lipow, president of Lipow Oil Associates, said Seaway is the first of several pipelines that will change the flow of oil. “By the end of the first quarter, we expect pipelines form Magellan LP and Sunoco Logistics to be on line,” said Lipow. “By the end of 2013, we should have the Keystone XL Southern leg in service from Cushing to the Gulf Coast.

The flood of new oil coming to the Gulf Coast could compete with Louisiana Light Crude, used in refining, and priced closer to Brent, said Kilduff.

“The question is whether the impact of all this crude coming into the Gulf Coast, is it going to be enough to top over demand for Brent? Will it be a tipping point?” said Kilduff. “The way these numbers keep going up and up, it seems like it could.” Kilduff said that would depend on how the impact of the Midwest crude filters through to the east coast, since the east coast refineries have run on oil based on Brent prices.

“The question is whether WTI rises to the Brent price, or Brent falls down toward the WTI price,” said Kilduff. “Right now, it appears the WTI is rising toward the Brent. The focus now is on what this pipeline is going to do to drain the bottleneck in Cushing.” Brent has historically traded below WTI, but in the last several years it’s been at a premium because of Middle East tensions, declining production in the North Sea, production disruptions in Africa and mostly the bottleneck in Cushing.

Kilduff added that the Saudis have also increased supplies to their jointly owned Motiva refinery in Texas, and that supply will also hit the Gulf Coast market.

“My expectation is that the Brent spread will get to $10,” said Lipow. “My expectation is that we will export a record amount of petroleum product in 2013 because petroleum product demand in the U.S. is relatively stagnant and we are going to process more crude as refiners in the Gulf Coast have raw material and operating cost advantages.” The U.S. became a net exporter of refined products in 2011 for the first time since 1949.

Lipow said the U.S. refineries are running at historically high levels for this time of year, and he thinks pump prices, could fall to a low this year of $3.10 per gallon. According to AAA, the national average is $3.30 per gallon for unleaded regular gasoline, up slightly from $3.29 a week ago, but down from $3.47 a month ago. His expectation is that the year high will be $3.70.