Daily Archives: January 28, 2013

Photo of the day: “Your DNA Will Be Your Data”


Photo taken at London Gatwick Airport…

Thanks to Edo!


Arizona Republicans Push Their Own Gun Secession Bill

The bill, known as HB 2291, would, among other things, make it a Class 6 felony for a federal government employee or official to enforce federal laws or regulations of firearms, accessories, and ammunition that are owned or manufactured within state lines and remain within state lines.

The bill would also make any new federal laws restricting semi-automatic firearms and magazines, or requiring any form of firearm registration, unenforceable in Arizona.

Among the bill’s sponsors is state Rep. Carl Seel (R), who previously made headlines as the author of a 2011 birther bill.

According to HB 2291’s primary sponsor, the bill is designed to send a message to the President and Congress.

“Here’s a line in the sand: Thanks, but no thanks. Stay out with your federal regulations you’re going to impose on us,” Rep. Steve Smith (R) told Capitol Media Services.

Arizona’s lawmakers aren’t the first to think of this kind of thing. As TPM reported earlier this month, similar noises have been made by Republicans in Mississippi, Texas, and Tennessee.

Read the full text of HB 2291 here.

Utah Yet Another State Getting In On The Gun Secession Movement


tpmmuckraker.talkingpointsmemo.com | Jan 23, 2013

by Eric Lach

For those keeping track at home, add Utah to the list of states where lawmakers and officials are pushing back against even the idea of new gun control measures coming from Washington D.C.

At a rally in front of the Utah Capitol in Salt Lake City on Saturday, newly-elected state Rep. Brian Greene drew cheers when, according to The Salt Lake Tribune, he announced that “he would unveil legislation next week giving local sheriffs the power to arrest any federal agent attempting to seize firearms from Utah residents.”

Greene, who is a National Rifle Association “Golden Eagle,” told the crowd to be wary of President Barack Obama’s recent gun control proposals. Last week, the White House announced 23 executive actions Obama plans to take to reduce gun violence in the wake of December’s mass shooting in Newtown, Conn., as well as other proposals he wants Congress to take up.

“This is all about control,” Greene said. “I saw the president in his press conference the other day with all the children around him and he made this comment — and I want to correct him. He said if this can save just one life we have a duty to do it. No, Mr. President, you have a duty to uphold the Constitution.”

Greene’s bill is known as the Second Amendment Preservation Act. Reached by TPM on Tuesday, Greene said the bill was still being drafted, and public copies were not yet available.

Greene, however, was beaten to the punch by the Utah Sheriff’s Association, which last week, the day after Obama’s executive orders were announced, sent a letter to the President, telling him that “it is imperative this discussion be had in Congress, not silenced unilaterally by executive orders.”

“We respect the Office of the President of the United States of America,” the letter concluded. “But, make no mistake, as the duly-elected sheriffs of our respective counties, we will enforce the rights guaranteed to our citizens by the Constitution. No federal official will be permitted to descend upon our constituents and take from them what the Bill of Rights — in particular Amendment II — has given them. We, like you, swore a solemn oat to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, and we are prepared to trade our lives for the preservation of its traditional interpretation.”

According to the Tribune’s report of Saturday’s rally, some of the speakers’ language went further than that.

“If I could tell one thing to these bedwetting, hand-wringing liberals out there, it’s that Thomas Jefferson anticipated you and called you a tyrant,” Clark Aposhian, Chairman of the Utah Shooting Sports Council, told the crowd. “And there’s already a method of taking care of it, if not by the First Amendment, then by the Second.”

Military equipment flowing to local law enforcement raises questions

Cobb County has two armored vehicles. One was military surplus and the other the police department bought using grant money.

“This is one of the most alarming trends in American policing…”

“The police are preparing for an enemy. My question is, ‘Who is the enemy?”

Atlanta Journal-Constitution | Jan. 27, 2013

By Rhonda Cook

The southeast Georgia town of Bloomingdale is tiny but well-armed.

Metro Atlanta police departments and sheriff’s offices have armored trucks and personnel carriers in their arsenals.

And the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office has in its possession four grenade launchers should there be a need to send canisters of tear gas or bean bags into a volatile situation.

All donated surplus military equipment available to law enforcement agencies nationwide — large and small.

Some people are upset that there are local law enforcement agencies armed with such weapons of war.

But the agencies that got the guns, armored vehicles and grenade launchers say it sends a message to would-be criminals: Officers “are armed to meet any threat,” so criminals should just stay away, said Bloomingdale Police Chief Roy Pike.

“Having the equipment precludes having to use it,” Pike said. “In the 20 years I’ve been here, we haven’t had to use deadly force against anybody.”

From the so-called 1033 program operated by a U.S. Department of Defense unit, Pike’s department of 13 officers acquired a grenade launcher for shooting tear gas, two M14 single-shot semi-automatic rifles and two M16 military-style rifles converted to semi-automatic from automatic.

The Defense Department established the 1033 program in the late 1990s to provide state and local law enforcement agencies with weapons, helicopters, armored vehicles, body armor, night vision equipment, surveillance equipment and protective gear. It also provides such things as surplus .45-caliber handguns and first-aid supplies.

Several local law enforcement officials said if their agencies had to buy the stuff, they’d just do without most of it. But since it’s donated, they find a place for it.

There is no cost to local taxpayers since they’ve already paid for the equipment with their federal taxes.

According to the most recent inventory by the Georgia Department of Public Safety, $200 million in surplus military equipment and weapons is in the hands of 600 Georgia law enforcement agencies, large and small.

Some say it’s an example of the militarization of police departments.

“I think military-grade weapons should be restricted to just that, the military. If local police run into a situation where someone is using those types of weapons, then call in the National Guard,” said LaShanda Hardin, who lives in Clayton County.

The Cato Institute, a Washington-based think tank that promotes individual liberty and limited government, believes the military surplus program should be shut down, said Tim Lynch, director of the criminal justice project.

“When this equipment is given away, police departments start saying, ‘Let’s grab it.’ ” And once the equipment is in the hands of law enforcement, “we have militarized units going into the community in situations where they aren’t warranted,” Lynch said.

“This is one of the most alarming trends in American policing,” Lynch continued. “We used to call them peace officers and they would treat people … with more respect and civility. We’re getting away from that. We’re getting into these military tactics and mindset that the people they (police) come into contact with are the enemy … and part of this is the militarized units in police departments.”

According to state records, the Georgia Department of Corrections has one armored truck and the state Department of Homeland Security has seven armored vehicles.

State records also show agencies that have benefited from the program include:

  •     The Waycross Police Department, which has two armored personnel carriers and 16 M15 rifles.
  •     The Cartersville Police Department, which has an armored personnel carrier and 17 M14 rifles.
  •     The Doraville Police Department, which has an armored personnel carrier.
  •     Newnan PD, which has an armored personnel carrier, 15 M16s and 12 M14s.
  •     Clayton County PD, which has a helicopter, an armored truck, 11 M16s and five M14s.
  •     Cobb County PD, which has an armored truck, 106 M16s and eight M14s. Cobb also has a second armored vehicle, which it bought using federal grant funds.

Other agencies with armored trucks include the Sandy Springs and Pelham police departments and the Gordon, Morgan, Oconee, Pickens and Walton county sheriffs offices.

According to state records, the U.S. Department of Defense has put the value of the armored personnel carriers at almost $245,000 each and the armored trucks at around $65,000 each. State records did not assign a value to the rifles or the grenade launchers.

The agencies who have them say they save lives, and there is a waiting list of agencies that want armored vehicles as well as weapons.

“It gives the … SWAT guys a protection to where they can get closer to the folks shooting at them,” said Don Sherrod, director of excess property for the Georgia Department of Public Safety, which oversees the program for the DOD. “When you pull up in something … and the bullets start bouncing off, they (criminals) give up.”

Cobb County Police Department SWAT uses its two armored vehicles to extricate people from a “hot zone” or to get officers closer to a “volatile situation.”

Capt. Craig Dodson of the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office said the agency has grenade launchers that have not been used, but they are held in reserve for scenarios that require deputies to fire tear gas canisters or non-lethal bean bags. He said the agency also has not yet used any of its 65 M16 semi-automatic rifles from the program.

“Our goal is to try to equip every patrolman in the law enforcement division with a rifle,” Dodson said.

“The M16 … gives you more capability to penetrate body armor or to make long-distance shots if you are not able to get closer. … It’s a safety blanket. We ask people to go out and do a job, and we want to give them the tools to be safe and do the job.”

But regardless of what law enforcement officials contend, Kimberly Binns, a multimedia designer who lives in Decatur, is alarmed by what military-grade firepower could mean for law-abiding citizens.

“I do not see the need for police departments to have such an extended arsenal,” she said.

Candace Garrett Daly, a Cobb County homemaker, is equally unnerved.

“What are we headed to?” Garrett asked. “Whatever it is seems to be already in motion at a breakneck speed. The police are preparing for an enemy. My question is, ‘Who is the enemy?”

Saskatchewan sees coldest winter in 17 years

cold as hell
A participant at the Cosmo Classic Loppet near Prince Albert. Sean Leslie/paNOW.com

Environment Canada says February could be colder than average

ckom.com | Jan 25, 2013

Between wind-chills below minus 30 degrees Celsius, blowing snow warnings and snowstorms in general, if the weather is starting to get to you you’re not alone.

In fact Environment Canada Meteorologist David Phillips says in Saskatchewan we really are justified in thinking we’re having a truly terrible winter.

“I always say to Canadians, well you know there’s some other place where it’s more miserable than you are so hey suck it up,” he commented. “I’m not sure I can say that for people from Saskatchewan, I’m not sure there is any place that’s tougher than you’ve had to endure this winter.”

Minnesota sees coldest temperatures in years

Generally you can complain about the snow or the cold, Phillips says it’s rare to be able to complain about both in the same winter.

We have had almost every single winter warning you can having this season in our province. Phillips admits it’s this winter the weather has been relentlessly pounding the province with snow starting back in October and November.

“There have been a couple of days where my gosh the temperature got above freezing and there was a melting temperature but generally it’s been brutally cold and terrible wind chills and heavy snows,” he said.

While snowfall varies, Phillips says in some areas of Regina this is snowiest winter on record to date in January going back to the 1800s.

We’ve had 75 continuous days of snow in a row. Looking at temperatures from October to January it’s the coldest winter in 17 years. South Saskatchewan has experienced 34 days below minus 20 C or colder.

There is a break on the way this weekend with temperatures above normal, but Phillips says after that you can brace for another cold wave.

“We’re calling for my gosh February – our models show colder than normal with more precipitation so that’s not good,” he commented. “I guess the only strand of hope I’ve got here is we’re calling for a preliminary forecast, a warmer than normal summer. So I guess maybe hold on, be more patient – there is some light at the end of that winter tunnel.”

How do you describe minus 25 or minus 30 degrees Celsius? Tell us on Facebook.

For fun we also made a video showing some cold weather experiments.

Edited by CJME’s Adriana Christianson with files from Samantha Maciag and Lisa Schick


East Coast ice box: coldest weather in years freezes big cities


washingtonpost.com | Jan 23, 2013

By Jason Samenow

Simulation of temperatures about 1 mile up in the atmosphere. All locations north of the purple shades are sub-freezing – within the core of the arctic airmass. (WeatherBell.com)

Along the I-95 corridor from Washington, D.C. to New York City, the mercury plunged into the single digits and teens this morning – the coldest readings witnessed in years. Factoring in a stiff wind from the northwest, wind chills tanked to near or below zero.

Washington, D.C.’s low of 15 degrees was its coldest since March 3, 2009. New York City dropped to 11 degrees and both Baltimore and Philadelphia plummeted to 12 degrees, their most frigid low temperatures since January 24, 2011.


Helping homeless during cold front

Record cold puts the heat on construction contractors

In Boston, this morning’s low of 10 wasn’t quite as cold as the 7 degree reading January 3 (earlier this month), but highs this afternoon are only expected to reach the mid-teens, coldest since January 24, 2011. Wind chill advisories are in effect tonight west of Boston for readings as low as 17 below.

“Anyone with outside interests today is encouraged to bundle up as well limit bare skin exposure and time outside,” the National Weather Service office in Taunton, Ma. wrote in its forecast discussion.

Temperatures as of 11 a.m. ET Wednesday (Oklahoma Mesonet)

The cold arrived courtesy of an arctic front that cut across the eastern two-thirds of the country Sunday and Monday.

The brutally cold blast held high temperatures in Minneapolis below zero Monday for the first time in over four years, ending its longest streak on record without experiencing such cold.

Chicago had its chilliest weather in two years Tuesday, with a high of 11 degrees and a low of 1 below.

“By midnight Tuesday, the area moved into a 55th consecutive hour of sub-20-degree thermometer readings and 46 hours with wind chills below zero,” wrote Tom Skilling, chief meteorologist at Chicago’s WGN.

As cold as these temperatures are, very few have been record-breaking. “These temperatures have not even come close to ranking among January’s 10 coldest days or nights on record at long-term observation sites,” the Weather Channel’s Nick Wiltgen said.

In the month of January, 2746 high temperature records have been set compared to 1275 low temperature records across the U.S.

While the core of the arctic chill grips the East today, the cold is expected to ease very briefly in parts of Midwest and Ohio Valley. Chicago, for example, is expected to reach the low 20s, about 10 degrees warmer than Tuesday.

However, a reinforcing shot of cold air is diving south across the northern Plains and will reach the East Coast by Thursday. Along the Canadian border, the low in International Falls tonight is forecast to crash to at least 30 degrees below zero tonight. While that is unmistakably frigid, consider its all-time record low is 55 below, set January 6, 1909.

Colder than average weather stands to remain over much of the eastern U.S. through the weekend.

Will this be the coldest winter for 50 years?

The snowy scene in the Mendip village of Priddy, Somerset

Harsh winter weather is prompting comparisons with the Big Freeze of 1963

independent.co.uk | Jan 23, 2013

by Michael McCarthy

Fifty years ago Britain was in the grip of the coldest winter of the 20th century, and the anniversary is prompting comparisons between the present harsh winter weather and the Big Freeze of 1963.

It is clear that 2013, although harsh, will not equal that extreme, at least in terms of duration, because during the cold of half a century ago, it began snowing on Boxing Day 1962, and it was the first week of the following March before the snow began to melt – and in that time, in most of Britain, the snow cover was continuous.

But with six weeks of winter left this year, it is still possible that 2013 may go quite a long way along the spectrum of severity towards the famous 1963 freeze, not least because we seem to be entering a period of severe winters.

Record Cold From Maine to Florida

There has been a noticeable change in Britain in the last four years. Previously we had experienced a very long run of increasingly warm winters, much of which were considered by scientists to be the product of global climate change. After the last really harsh freeze, of 1978-79, which produced in political terms the famous Winter of Discontent, there was a long period in Britain with very little snow, which had notable effects, such as a near-doubling of the badger population between the mid-1980s and mid-1990s (as the ground was rarely frozen and their earthworm food was available).

But the winter of 2009-10 was quite different, being the snowiest and harshest for 30 years, and the winter of 2010-11 even harsher. The present winter is fitting this pattern, but it is far too soon to predict what the outcome of this season as a whole will be.