Whistleblower who revealed NSA wiretapping activities speaks out from hiding in Hong Kong: "you are not even aware of what is possible."
(Posted by Bryana Johnson on June 16th, 2013)
In a scene like a nightmare, the US government confirmed on Thursday night the existence of a mass-scale federal wiretapping project called Prism. The confirmation from the feds came after an anonymous whistleblower leaked the relevant documents. What the materials disclosed was horrifying.
For years now, Prism has been utilized by the National Security Agency (NSA) to monitor internet and telephone communications between the US and foreign nationals. And, according to the Prism PowerPoint slide, the data it can collect is essentially unlimited. For just 20 million a year, the agency is able to monitor "email, chat (video, voice), videos, photos, stored data, VoIP [internet phone calls], file transfers, video conferencing, notifications of target activity – logins etc, online social networking details" and a mysterious category called "special requests.”
Major companies, including Apple, Microsoft, Youtube, Skype, Google, and Yahoo are involved, although it is not yet known whether they participated knowingly or involuntarily.
Earlier this week, it also was revealed that the NSA has been collecting telephone data and phone records from millions of US Verizon customers under a classified court order. The order directs Verizon Business Network Services to turn over “on an ongoing daily basis” the “following tangible things”:
“All call detail records or ‘telephony metadata’ created by Verizon for communications (i) between the United States and abroad; or (ii) wholly within the United States, including local telephone calls.”
To add insult to injury, the order forbids Verizon from revealing this fact to anyone, including, obviously, their own customers. There is also nothing is the order telling the NSA when this information must be destroyed.
Amy Davidson of The New Yorker, writes,
“The government seems to have a list of all the people that Verizon customers called and who called them; how long they spoke; and, perhaps—depending on how precise the cell-phone-tower information in the metadata is, where they were on a given day…And the customers of other providers shouldn’t be reassured: it is likely that this order is simply one of a type—the one that fell off the truck.”
This starkly alarming data leak discloses only the latest incident in a string of deceitful and abhorrent acts perpetrated by the current administration. But it is one of the most significant, as it reveals the tip of the wide iceberg of federal espionage that fetters the freedom of the every American citizen.
Today, the 29-year-old NSA whistleblower responsible for the leak has come forward. "I have no intention of hiding who I am because I know I have done nothing wrong,” said Edward Snowden, who is a former technical assistant for the CIA and has been working with the NSA for four years now.
In an interview with The Guardian this morning, he explained his decision to disclose the explosive information,
"The NSA has built an infrastructure that allows it to intercept almost everything. With this capability, the vast majority of human communications are automatically ingested without targeting. If I wanted to see your emails or your wife's phone, all I have to do is use intercepts. I can get your emails, passwords, phone records, credit cards…You are not even aware of what is possible. The extent of their capabilities is horrifying. We can plant bugs in machines. Once you go on the network, I can identify your machine. You will never be safe whatever protections you put in place…I don't want to live in a society that does these sort of things … I do not want to live in a world where everything I do and say is recorded. That is not something I am willing to support or live under."
Snowden, who says he’s had a comfortable life with a salary of around $200,000, a home in Hawaii with his girlfriend and a loving family, chose three weeks ago to leave his former existence behind. Perhaps forever.
“I am willing to sacrifice all of that because I can't in good conscience allow the US government to destroy privacy, internet freedom and basic liberties for people around the world with this massive surveillance machine they're secretly building," he said.
After copying the last set of pertinent documents for the leak, Snowden boarded a plane for Hong Kong and took up residence in a hotel, where he is still residing. His lifestyle may seem paranoid to some, but Snowden understands the capabilities of the government that is hunting him. He used to be one of them. Having observed the Obama’s administration’s aggressive prosecution of whistleblowers, he realizes that his situation is precarious at best. He also had some comments to make about President Obama’s marked policy shift on personal liberties, saying,
“A lot of people in 2008 voted for Obama. I did not vote for him. I voted for a third party. But I believed in Obama's promises. I was going to disclose it [but waited because of his election]. He continued with the policies of his predecessor."
Snowden says he fully expects the US government to do everything in its power to seek him out and punish him for the remainder of his life, however long that may prove to be.
"I am not afraid,” he says, “because this is the choice I've made."
Snowden’s biggest fear is that the revelation of his identity will distract attention from the issues at hand. "I don't want public attention,” he said, “because I don't want the story to be about me. I want it to be about what the US government is doing."
The Romeike Family
The German homeschooling family that fled to America in order to homeschool their children has
been denied asylum by the Obama administration
(Posted by Bryana Johnson on May 21, 2013)
The verdict on a massively significant case
in the Sixth Court of Appeals has been returned. In a shocking development, the court has upheld the Obama Administration’s bid to deny asylum to the Romeike family, who fled to the US in 2008 after persecution in their native Germany for homeschooling their five children. The decision was announced
Tuesday by the Homeschool Legal Defense Association (HSLDA). The HSLDA has been representing the Romeike family throughout a seven-year struggle to educate their children in the way they think best.
Uwe Romeike and his wife Hannelore are music teachers and evangelical Christians who withdrew their children from German public schools in 2006, after becoming concerned that the educational material employed by the school was undermining the tenets of their Christian faith, and that the school was not providing their children with an ideal learning environment. “As we were confronted with opposition to our choice we began to feel more and more that our faith required us to homeschool our children,”
Uwe explained Wednesday.
Unfortunately for the Romeikes, homeschooling has been illegal in Germany since it was outlawed by Adolf Hitler in 1938. According to the German Supreme Court, the purpose of the homeschooling ban is to, “counteract the development of religious and philosophically motivated parallel societies.”
The family accrued the equivalent of around $10,000 in fines, and faced police visits to their home and the forcible removal of their children from the home. On one occasion, their children were dragged away and taken to school in police vans. Uwe explained in an interview with The Blaze
that current German law does not require police to obtain a court order before removing children from parental custody.
In 2008 the Romeikes fled Germany to seek asylum in the land of the free and the home of the brave. In 2010, the HSLDA helped them to become the first family ever granted asylum in the US for the protection of their homeschooling rights. Federal immigration judge Lawrence Burnam, who initially granted the Romeikes political asylum, ruled that they had a reasonable fear of persecution for their beliefs if they returned to their homeland. He called the German policy “utterly repellent to everything we believe as Americans.”
However, it seems the Obama administration doesn’t concur. In 2012, the Board of Immigration Appeals tossed Judge Burnam’s ruling, forcing the family to head back to court, where Attorney General Eric Holder sought to revoke their asylum and force them to return to Germany.
HSLDA’s Mike Farris explained, “The U.S. government contended that the Romeikes’ case failed to show that there was any discrimination based on religion because, among other reasons, the Romeikes did not prove that all homeschoolers were religious, and that not all Christians believed they had to homeschool.”
In Farris’ opinion, this shows that, “the US government does not understand that religious freedom is an individual right. Just because all adherents of a particular religion do not abide by a certain standard does not mean that individuals who feel compelled to abide by this standard do not have the right to do so. Religious decisions must be made by individuals, not by groups
A crowd of the American people agree with Farris and have rallied around the Romeike family by signing a formal petition
on the White House website. Part of the petitions reads, “Every state in the United States of America recognizes the right to homeschool, and the U.S. has the world’s largest and most vibrant homeschool community. Regrettably, this family faces deportation in spite of the persecution they will suffer in Germany. The Romeikes hope for the same freedom our forefathers sought. Please grant the privilege of liberty to the Romeike family.”
The number of signers has exceeded the threshold necessary to earn a response from the White House, and the response is still being eagerly awaited. However, the verdict from the court has created a major setback for the Romeikes and makes their status in the US uncertain. The family may be faced with deportation.
Michael Donnelly, an attorney for the Romeikes, told ABC News the family remains hopeful.
"They feel very comfortable that, in the end, things are going to work out for them
," he said. "There is a lot of support for this family in Congress, it is possible that Congress might take some action."
Farris expressed his indignation at the verdict, stating, "You can't look at the lenient attitude to 11 million people who came here for economic opportunity, why we would not treat people who come here for economic freedom on par with people who came here for religious freedom I don't understand.”
Farris said the family is planning to appeal the decision first to the entire Sixth Circuit Court and then to the Supreme Court, if necessary.
–Deportation of German homeschool family affects US homeschool freedom
–Interview with the Romeike Family
Senator Rand Paul warns indefinite detention is back: a House-Senate committee led by Sen. McCain has presented a new draft of the 2013 NDAA bill – without the Feinstein-Lee amendment
(Posted by Bryana Joy on December 21, 2012)
Just a month ago, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul was making headlines by threatening to hold up the 2013 NDAA bill. The NDAA is a federal law that is passed every year, specifying the budget and expenditures of the US Department of Defense, although each year's act also includes other provisions. Paul’s demand was for a vote on an amendment to secure the right to a jury trial.
“If you don't have a right to trial by jury, you do not have due process. You do not have a Constitution. What are you fighting against and for if you throw the Constitution out?” he pleaded in an address before the Senate on November 30th.
As anyone knows who stayed up into the wee hours of the morning on the night of the 30th with c-span on their screens and their hearts pounding, he seemed to win a quite glorious victory.
Amendment #3018, which was introduced by California Sen. Feinstein and Mike Lee of Utah and enthusiastically supported by Rand Paul, passed the Senate by a wide margin of 67-29 that night. It provided that,
“an authorization to use military force, a declaration of war, or any similar authority shall not authorize the detention without charge or trial of a citizen or lawful permanent resident of the United States unless an act of Congress expressly authorizes such detention.”
Many embraced this amendment as a solution to the wildly unpopular clause in Section 1021 of the 2011-2012 NDAA, which provided for the indefinite detention without trial of American citizens judged to be involved in terrorism or “belligerent acts” against the US.
Others were not so sure, insisting that the line about an Act of Congress “expressly authorizing such detention” was a loophole allowing for Section 1021 to remain in effect. Congressman Justin Amash stated,
“Well, that Act of Congress is the 2012 NDAA, which renders the rest of the Feinstein amendment meaningless.”
Mike Lee offered his full response countering Congressman Amash’s concern on his website.
On the whole, most defenders of freedom seemed to agree that, if not perfect, amendment #3018 still offered some protections to American citizens. Texas Congressman Ron Paul, a practically legendary champion of liberty, wrote on his facebook page,
“I applaud the Feinstein-Lee amendment for moving the debate forward. In the House most Republicans believe that a habeas hearing is sufficient for due process. The Feinstein-Lee amendment makes clear that anything short of a jury trial is not due process.”
Today, Senator Paul had some sad news to announce: A House-Senate conference committee led by Senator John McCain has stripped amendment #3018 from the new draft of the NDAA bill. Senator Levin confirmed this, saying, “The language of the Senate bill was dropped,” but, according to Politico’s Juana Summers, declined to offer any further comments.
"The decision by the NDAA conference committee, led by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) to strip the National Defense Authorization Act of the amendment that protects American citizens against indefinite detention now renders the entire NDAA unconstitutional," Sen. Paul warned.
“When I entered the United States Senate, I took an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution. It is for this reason that I will strongly oppose passage of the McCain conference report that strips the guarantee to a trial by jury,” Paul further elaborated.
The good news is that your senators took that same oath. The bad news is that they need regular and animated reminders of the fact. The good news is that you have the opportunity to give them exactly that.
Now is as good a time as any to dial up both of your two senators at all of their offices and leave your message explaining the latest developments in the struggle for individual liberty. Remind them of their oath. You might also need to remind them that you watch, you listen, you care and you vote. They had better do the same.
(This article was first posted at The Washington Times Communities.)
British Comedian Rowan Atkinson, 'Mr. Bean'
When Insults Are Illegal:
British comedian Rowan Atkinson warns about ‘The Outrage Industry’ and the ‘Creeping Culture of Censoriousness’
(Posted by Bryana Johnson on October 29th, 2012)
A few years back, a young Oxford University student who was out celebrating the conclusion of some exams, came out of a bar and made a childish comment to a policeman. This comment landed him in jail. The comment? “Excuse me, do you realize your horse is gay?” Rather than ignoring him, the policeman demanded he pay a fine of £80. When he refused, he was arrested under Section 5 of the 1986 UK Public Order Act. Thames Valley Police said: “He made homophobic comments that were deemed offensive to people passing by.”
" The whole thing is absolutely absurd," said Mr. Brown. "There were about six police officers and a whole load of patrol cars.”
A jury eventually overturned the ruling, but not before calling significant public attention to Section 5, the infamous clause in the Public Order Act which states that,
A person is guilty of an offence if he:
(a) uses threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour, or disorderly behaviour, or
(b) displays any writing, sign or other visible representation which is threatening, abusive or insulting,
within the hearing or sight of a person likely to be caused harassment, alarm or distress thereby.
British comedian Rowan Atkinson, in a short speech last week at the Reform Section 5 Campaign’s Parliamentary Reception, called it, “That thing where you can arrest anybody for saying anything that might be construed by anyone else as insulting.”
Other victims of Section 5 include a Christian preacher who told a passer-by that homosexuality was immoral, a 16-year-old holding a poster that read, “Scientology is a Dangerous Cult,” two hotel managers who engaged a customer in conversation about Mohammed and Islamic dress for women, and a preacher who told police privately, upon being questioned, that he thought homosexuality was a sin. Atheist John Richards, who placed a sign in his window which stated, “religions are fairy stories for adults,” was told by police that he could be arrested under Section 5. Animal rights protestors who displayed toy seals dyed with red food coloring were threatened with arrest and seizure and told by police that the toys were distressing to members of the public. Following a complaint from a customer, police reportedly told Christian café owner Jamie Murray to stop playing DVDs that showed texts from the New Testament in his establishment.
It’s interesting to note that in most of the cases mentioned above, the supposed offenders were eventually acquitted, although sometimes at significant cost to themselves and to British taxpayers who had to fund the ridiculous court costs accrued by the imprudent actions of public servants who were given free reign by an absurd law. In his speech earlier this month, Rowan Atkinson touched on the inherent absurdity of attempts to ban insulting language, saying,
“The clear problem with the outlawing of insult is that too many things can be interpreted as such. Criticism is easily construed as insult by some parties. Ridicule, easily construed as insult. Sarcasm, unfavorable comparison, merely stating an alternative point of view to the orthodoxy, -- can be interpreted as insult. And since so many things can be interpreted as insulting, it is hardly surprising that so many things have been.”
To ban insults is to outlaw a form of speech that is central to most disagreements and controversies – even those which are wholly cordial. Anytime there is a verbalized clash of ideas, there is a likelihood that one party will poke fun at another. In many cases, there is also the possibility that one party will completely lose his or her head and spout off something really offensive. There is always the probability that the two sides in a public debate will publicly declare their opponents to be wrong. This is not a travesty that calls for government intervention but an unavoidable by-product of free speech rights – and of human nature.
Atkinson wisely suggests that a culture which cannot handle insults needs to be exposed to them more regularly. “ For me,” he says, “the best way to increase society’s resistance to insulting or offensive speech, is to allow a lot more of it. We need to build our immunity to taking offense, so that we can deal with the issues that perfectly justified criticism can raise. The strongest weapon against hateful speech is not repression, but more speech.”
This brings us to the central problem with laws banning insults, which is that the task of deciding what type of language is insulting is left to the government. A ban on insulting language is not like a ban on swearing or a ban on using curse words in public places. It is a ban which can encompass even justified criticism. Indeed, it has the Kafkaesque quality of being a ban on nothing in particular and therefore on potentially anything.
“ They [police officers] don’t seem to need a real victim,” Atkinson warns. “They need only to make the judgment that somebody could have been offended if they had heard or read what has been said.”
It is these open-ended bans and this undefined repression which makes the modern era’s war on intolerance so deadly to liberty and so poisonous to law. A nation which is governed by the proverbial “rule of law” is a nation in which citizens are able to easily ascertain what is and is not allowed. The rule of law is characterized by lucid legal language and common sense judgments which are intelligible to the majority of the citizens. It is only in despotic nations that citizens must live in constant fear of breaking some law which they have never heard of and which makes no sense to them at all.
“ We live in a country where insults are illegal,” laments the Reform Section 5 Campaign’s official video. If you’re an American citizen, you still live in a country where insults are legal. Unfortunately, if the trends in Western Europe and Canada are any indication of the future, you are going to have to fight with all of your might to keep it that way.
The United Nations Flag
The controversial UN Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities is pushing for a September vote in the US Senate
(Posted by Bryana Johnson on September 20, 2012)
At the end of July, the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations approved a controversial UN treaty: The Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities (CRPD), which has been fought by family rights groups and defenders of US sovereignty for months. What exactly are the concerns being raised by the opponents of the UNCRPD? The Homeschool Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) summarizes them succinctly in a helpful list which breaks down the most disturbing elements of the treaty’s wording.
While one of their main concerns is the sovereignty issue raised in Article 4(1)(a), which demands that all American law on the subject be conformed to the standards of the UN, implied threats to parental rights are their biggest fear. They explain on their website,
“Article 7(2) [which states that ‘in all actions concerning children with disabilities, the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration’] advances the identical standard for the control of children with disabilities as is contained in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. This means that the government—acting under UN directives—gets to determine for all children with disabilities what the government thinks is best. Additionally, under current American law, federal law requires public schools to offer special assistance to children with disabilities. However, no parent is required to accept such assistance. Under this section the government—and not the parent—would have the ultimate authority to determine if a child with special needs will be homeschooled, attend a private school, or be required to accept the program offered by the public school.”
At the bottom of this heap of words lies a question hidden like a neon-orange hunter’s jersey walking around in a green field. Whose responsibility will it be to determine what is in the best interests of a disabled child? This is the question with the frightening answer that changes everything.
The HSLDA has also called attention to Article 4(1)(e), which demands that “ every person, organization, or private enterprise” must eliminate discrimination on the basis of disability. “On its face,” warns the HSLDA, “this means that every home owner would have to make their own home fully accessible to those with disabilities. If the UN wants to make exceptions, perhaps they could. But, on its face this is the meaning of the treaty.”
There were nine total witnesses at the July hearing which was held by Sen. John Kerry. Only two people opposed to the treaty were permitted to testify. These were Steven Groves of the Heritage Foundation and Michael Farris of the Homeschool Legal Defense Association.
Farris expressed his concern, calling the hearing “a carefully-orchestrated attempt to get this treaty ratified without any serious consideration, adding, “It appears some in the Senate are counting on citizens’ ignorance of the Constitution. [They are] trying to downplay the impact of this treaty by arguing that ‘a treaty is an empty promise with no actual substance.’ Wrong. The Supremacy Clause of the Constitution overrules State Laws if it is ratified.”
Judging by the extensive video footage of the hearing, Sen. Kerry did indeed imply that the treaty would not place legal restrictions on the US, stating, “since the treaty is not self-executing in the United States, it’s hard for me to understand, given the reservations and declarations and understandings, there would be a change needed.”
However, Mr. Farris’ understanding of the matter appears to be the correct one, under this provision of the US Constitution: “This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.”
It’s hard to see how that very lucid passage leaves any room for further debate regarding the binding nature of the UNCRPD, if ratified by the US Congress – even if it could be shown to make any ethical or logical sense to sign treaties that we don’t intend to abide by in the first place.
Following the Senate Committee Hearing and the subsequent ratification of the treaty by the Committee, there ensued a period of rest for the embattled partisans on both sides of the UNCRPD debate. This week, however, the issue reared its head again, with Tim Lambert of the Texas Homeschool Coalition sending out an alert warning that the convention is pushing for a September Senate vote on the treaty and urging defenders of liberty to not only contact their senators’ offices via phone but to visit them in person in order to stress the magnitude of the situation. (This piece was first posted at The Communities at the Washington Times)
Rev. David Lynn and Toronto Police Officers
Incident at Toronto Gay Pride Parade demonstrates the potential for injustice that is imminent when government takes sides and acts apart from the law
(Posted by Shannon Lise on July 13, 2012)
Canada Day in Ontario this year was marked by a disturbing incident when Rev. David Lynn and a small group of friends attended the Toronto Gay Pride Parade. Setting up a small stand on a street corner with a microphone and a video camera, Lynn preached, held conversations with passers-by, and handed out Bibles and tracts – that is, until Toronto police wearing LGBT rainbow stickers shut him down and forced him to vacate the area. Ignoring the profanity and violent behavior of angry parade attendees and demonstrators who verbally assaulted the group and even doused Lynn and his cameraman with water, police told Lynn he was ‘promoting hate’ and must leave.
Despite Lynn repeatedly requesting to know what law he was violating and why he was being shut down, the police never quoted any relevant regulation or by-law and refused to explain their actions beyond insisting that Lynn was ‘causing a disturbance.’ Instead, some twelve officers surrounded the stand, assaulted the 17-year old cameraman, and yelled at the crowd to go away and stop listening to Lynn, refusing to let anyone near. Video footage of the event shows one officer shouting, “Guys, everybody, by staying and listening to him you’re helping him get his message across. You ignore him and it all goes away.”
However, these same zealous would-be enforcers of laws that don't exist proved less than enthusiastic about dealing with the multiple displays of nudity going on at the same time in the surrounding area. Although public display of nudity is illegal according to the Canada Criminal Code, police apparently did not write a single ticket for nudity during the parade.
Whether or not preaching about the love of God at a Pride Parade is ‘promoting hate’ or being disrespectful may be up for debate, but it is not something for the Toronto police to decide. By choosing to ignore the illegal and disruptive conduct of parade participants and arbitrarily shutting the preacher down instead, the police have taken sides in a complicated national dispute that is beyond their jurisdiction. The police are supposed to enforce the law, not support the interests of a particular group at the expense of someone else' rights. Police officers are well within their rights to have whatever private sympathies they like, but if those sympathies are allowed to influence their decisions when they are acting in an official capacity, then they are just part of the angry crowd, with the difference that they are able to exploit their position in order to intimidate and coerce other people, especially the people they disagree with.
Let’s not forget that the police represent the government. The authority abused by the people who enforce the law can be just as easily abused by the people who make the law. The role of the government as a neutral arbiter of justice is undermined when the government refuses to protect everyone’s freedom equally. In Lynn’s words, ‘You’re here to defend my rights, too.’ But when the government takes sides, freedom is redefined to mean the freedom of whichever side the government is on, to the exclusion of the rest of society.[You can watch the shocking footage of the incident in the three clips below. Please note that these clips feature a generous amount of uncensored profanity on the part of incensed Pride Parade attendees. Viewer discretion is advised.]
The first video clip shows the first ten minutes of the confrontation, ending when an angry officer snatches the camera from Rev. Lynn's cameraman.
This second clip shows what happened after the camera was restored to Lynn's camerman.
This clip, recorded by a third party, documents the officer's confiscation of the camera and the subsequent confrontation.
Angered and disturbed by what you've seen? Don't leave it at that! Utilize the contact information below and let the authorities in Toronto know that they overstepped their rightful authority.
Names and badge numbers of Toronto police officers identified by footage captured by Lynn’s cameraman:
T. Adams, 9114
Staff Sergeant R. Pasini, 4528
D. Sinclair, 9678
D. Rubbini, 6346
M. Duffy, 1095
Office of the Independent Police Review Director (OIPRD)
Ph: (877) 411-4773
Complaint against police form
Rob Ford, Mayor of Toronto
Office of the Mayor
Toronto City Hall, 2nd Floor,
100 Queen St. West,
Toronto, ON M5H 2N2
Ph: (416) 397-3673
New report indicates Planned Parenthood ignoring Hyde Amendment, charging taxpayers for hundreds of thousands of abortion services
(Posted by Bryana Joy on February 20, 2012)
If you're concerned about the $330 million in taxpayer funding which Planned Parenthood currently receives each year, chances are you’re all-too-familiar by now with the Hyde Amendment: a legislative provision that’s supposed to bar federal funds from going to pay for abortions. My guess is that it’s been flung at you time and again if you’ve dared to suggest that your government shouldn’t be giving your money to the largest abortion-provider in the US when you are personally opposed to abortion.
The Hyde Amendment, of course , is utterly bogus, and it does nothing to protect pro-life people’s consciences and keep their money away from abortion. It does, however, stand as a legal assertion of the fact that it is unjust and immoral to force people who are staunch opponents of abortion to pay for them. For this reason, the Hyde Amendment is something that pro-life people should look on with fondness – if frustration – perhaps as a mother looks on a three-year-old child who wants to “help Mommy cook supper” but only succeeds in breaking dishes and burning herself on the stove. Unfortunately, a new report released by the Alliance Defense Fund suggests that Planned Parenthood is not content to use your money for graphic sex-education resources, birth control, and STI testing, but is determined to force you to pay for abortions as well.
The report, which found upwards of $99 million in waste or possible fraud, included evidence of illegal taxpayer funding of abortion and abortion-related procedures. LifeSiteNews reports that the 10 known audits which took place in California, New Jersey, New York, Texas, and Washington state, uncovered numerous instances of financially questionable practices such as wrongly billing Medicaid for medications provided as part of an abortion in violation of the Hyde Amendment, overbilling for prescription drugs, dispensing prescription drugs – including oral contraceptives – without a prescription, double-billing, charging for medically unnecessary services, falsely claiming services were provided for family planning, and unsigned or missing documentation. The ADF report identified 12 types of potential fraud, and stated in one place that,
“ In New York alone during one four year period, it appeared that hundreds of thousands of abortion-related claims were billed illegally to Medicaid.”
Just last week, the Lufkin Daily News reported that Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast is a defendant in a federal lawsuit after a former Lufkin clinic employee alleged a fraudulent multi-million-dollar billing scheme. The complaint names Karen Reynolds as the whistle-blower in allegations brought against her former employer of 10 years, Planned Parenthood.
According to Reynolds’ complaint, filed in October 2011, she was instructed by the organization to maximize billing revenue by fraudulently charging Medicaid and the Women’s Health Program for unwarranted services, services not covered by Medicaid, and services with patients did not receive. She says Planned Parenthood also falsified patient records, and claims these procedures were employed in in all 12 Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast locations across Texas and Louisiana.
The Lufkin Daily News has more disturbing details:
“An example given in the suit is Medicaid being billed for birth control counseling. The suit states almost all Women’s Health Program and Medicaid patients were handed a bag of at least two birth control devices despite the fact the items were not needed or requested by the patient. Pursuant to corporate policy and instructions from clinical directors, after merely handing the patient a bag of condoms and vaginal film on the way out the door, clinic employees then entered billing codes to be submitted to the government at an average billed cost of $57.85.”
In her complaint , Reynolds quotes a clinic memo as stating, “If the client [getting an abortion] is getting on birth control make this the focus of the visit and put a note in the chief complaints that the client had a surgical or medical abortion ‘x’ weeks ago.”
A former employee who was chief financial officer of Planned Parenthood of Los Angeles, P. Victor Gonzalez, claimed in a 2010 lawsuit that PPLA paid “$225,695.65 for Ortho Tri-Cyclen birth control pills, yet billed the government $918,084 – for a profit of $692,388.35.”
Steven Aden, vice president for human life issues and senior council at ADF, told LifeSiteNews,
"Americans deserve to know if their hard-earned tax money is being funneled to groups that are misusing it. Planned Parenthood has to play by the same rules as everyone else. It is not entitled to a dime of taxpayer funds, especially if it is committing Medicaid fraud."
It’s a good day to remember some words of Thomas Jefferson’s, which perhaps indicate that the statesmen who founded this great nation in turmoil and trials are spinning around and around in their graves this week:
"To compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves and abhors, is sinful and tyrannical. "(Originally posted at The Washington Times Communities)
Internet cafe customers who pay cash or who obtain "photos, maps, or diagrams of populated locations" now considered terror suspects by FBI
(Guest Post by Luke Montgomery -- February 7, 2012)
In a secret inter-agency contest to see which federal bureaucracy can deadpan the funniest press conference, Vegas bookies are indicating that the FBI has surged into the lead with its release of a new flyer designed to help internet cafe operators identify potential terrorists . Odds are now 7 to 1 that the FBI will win the contest as this list provides more material for late-night humor than the announcement by Department of Defense Secretary Leon Panetta last week that Israel has been planning for years to strike Iran in the next two months. This statement was only funny to citizens without Alzheimers, and some pundits wonder whether it was a violation of the contest’s anti-discrimination provisions and might disqualify the DoD from the competition altogether. Others said that budget cuts were already having an effect on military intelligence.
The list from the FBI, on the other hand, gives ‘tried-and-true’ tips to help internet cafe employees catch terrorists in the planning stages. These include customers who:
1) pay for their coffee with cash
2) try to shield the computer screen so that others can’t see personal or credit card information
3) search for the terms “police” or “government”
4) obtain photos, maps or diagrams of transportation, sporting venues, or populated locations
The list is much longer, but it is estimated that these four tips alone will identify another 72,561,000 potential terrorists in the US, not only justifying current budget levels but making a strong argument for more hiring. The additional jobs are already being touted as TARP III (Total Annihilation of Rational Principles).
Vegas bookies speaking on the condition of anonymity suggested that if the FBI can successfully deadpan the press conference related to the flyer, it will have a significant lead over other agencies. The contest ends in November, so there is still time for the TSA and the Department of Education, but only if they work together.Author, researcher and motivational speaker, Luke Montgomery lived for over a decade in the Middle East and now writes and works in an undisclosed location with other pilgrims traveling towards the Celestial City. Follow his writing online at www.lukemontgomery.net and on twitter at @LukeM_Author
New Hampshire HB 1264 would protect religious business owners from being forced to provide services for same-sex weddings; Governor Lynch promises to veto...(Posted by Bryana Joy on February 04, 2012)(First posted at The College Conservative) “Guard with jealous attention the public liberty.
Suspect everyone who approaches that jewel…”
A bill currently pending in the New Hampshire State legislature would allow business owners to turn away customers on the basis of “conscience or religious faith.” Introduced by Rep. Frank Sapareto, HB1264 aims to protect Christian wedding vendors from being forced to provide services for homosexual couples.
The fear that conscience rights may be violated in the Granite State is hardly far-fetched: many US small-business owners have already faced lawsuits for refusing to host or perform same-sex marriage ceremonies. In January, a New Jersey judge ruled against a Christian retreat house that refused to allow a same-sex civil union ceremony to be conducted on its premises, ruling that the Constitution allows “some intrusion into religious freedom to balance other important societal goals.” Last November, Christian cake-baker Victoria Childress of Des Moines was threatened with legal action by a lesbian couple that had hoped to commission her to design their wedding cake. In September a gay couple filed suit against two Illinois institutions that refused to host their civil union. Christian “Bed and Breakfast” establishments, which are often family-owned businesses, are especially targeted by homosexual rights activists for this type of harassment.
The new bill, which was scheduled to come up for a vote last month but has been pushed back to February, would prevent such suits from coming before New Hampshire courts by ensuring that individuals will be legally permitted to “choose not to provide accommodations, goods, or services for a marriage if doing so would violate his or her conscience or religious faith.” Needless to say, the bill has been roundly attacked by homosexual rights activists and mainstream media networks. New Hampshire Governor John Lynch has promised to veto it.
So, just what is it that’s so repugnant about the idea of allowing business owners to make their own decisions about who they want to work with? Probably this aversion to freedom in the marketplace is due in large part to a common misconception about the nature of the business world. There is a popular myth that permitting private vendors to express opposition to aspects of their society by refusing service to customers will somehow foster attitudes of intolerance and cultivate so-called “haters.”
Proponents of this view, however, have put forward a proposition based on laughably fallacious reasoning. Passing laws that force businesses to perform actions which are prohibited by their convictions doesn’t alter the mindsets of business owners and certainly doesn’t make for a content citizenry. On the contrary, it is counterproductive and wrong to attempt to change the thought patterns of a culture by forcing its people to engage in and endorse activities which they believe to be immoral. Additionally, such legislation promotes division and stifles individuality in a population. Unless businesses are engaging in activities that directly harm others, these heavy-handed methods to coerce them are totalitarian and must not be endured by a free and thoughtful people.
Let us illustrate this premise with a simple example: suppose a white business owner in a southern state in the 1920’s decides to refuse service to Ku Klux Klan members. The business owner finds the KKK’s racist beliefs and creed despicable and doesn’t want to associate with its members. Surely most modern people would agree that the business owner has every right to make this decision. After all, his business is his property and a transaction made with a customer is a form of contract that the owner must enter into. Can there be a truly free society that forces people to enter into contracts against their will?
What many homosexual rights activists do not seem to understand is that opposition to their lifestyle is, in many cases, at least as strong as any southern business owner’s opposition to the KKK might have been a century ago. While they try to paint their opposition as an insignificant minority, 2011 polls showed that 46% of Americans opposed same-sex marriage, while only 45% favored it. The Bible teaches that homosexual acts are not only a sin but an abomination. In a nation that identifies itself as predominantly Christian, is it any wonder that a significant portion of the population is horrified by the idea of being involved in a same-sex wedding? Is it really fair for government to take sides on an issue that has the nation split into a cultural divide? Does an individual’s right to be served by a private business overrule the property rights of the business owner?
When government doesn’t interfere in the workplace, the free market tends to right itself. If a business begins to annoy potential customers as a result of its discriminatory practices, the boycott system comes into play and the owner begins to lose money. If the convictions held by the business owner are strong enough, he or she will be willing to take the loss. If not, monetary distress will force the owner to alter his or her policies. If no consensus can be established between two opposing camps of ideas, the nation can at least agree to disagree. It’s called free trade, and it’s how civilized adults handle their differences. When government gets involved in such a conflict, it only short-circuits the efficiency and precision of a perfectly functional natural process. It also serves to warn a people that they are not free; that they are, in fact, considered unfit to rule themselves and to do business in the way that seems best to them. Rather, they must do their business in the way that seems best to their leaders.
You lovers of freedom in the great state of New Hampshire, might you take just a few minutes out of your day to give your senators and representatives a call. You are the only ones who can defend liberty in the Granite State. . .
Live free or die. Find your New Hampshire state representative
Find your New Hampshire state senator
School shooting suspect, Bruco Eastwood
Jurors find school shooter "not guilty by reason of insanity" - are we quickly forgetting the lessons we should have learned from Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris at Columbine High School?
(Posted by Bryana Joy on October 08, 2011)
“It’s complicated,” says Andrea Lopez of CBS News with regards to the case of school shooting suspect Bruco Eastwood. The Colorado man open fired on students of Deer Creek Middle School in February of 2010, wounding two 8th graders before he was tackled by math teacher David Benke. He was charged with 15 crimes.
Eastwood has a history of mental illness and run-ins with the law. His peculiar behaviors were noted by his father and others who knew him, and his rambling journals refer to “mutants and transformers” who were “taking over his body.” The prosecution, however, has argued that he was fully aware of what he was doing and intended the attack deliberately. It has been speculated that Eastwood, who attended the Deer Creek Middle School in the 1990s and was bullied by classmates, planned the assault as an act of revenge. Chief Deputy District Attorney Steve Jensen said that during two hours of videotaped questioning with investigators, Eastwood repeatedly said he that knew what he did was wrong, and that he had hatred and anger.
“It’s complicated because what jurors are going to have to decide is whether Eastwood knew the difference between right and wrong at the time of the shooting,” Lopez said on Wednesday as she covered the story live in front of the Jefferson County Justice Center.
But I’m not so sure that it is all that complicated.
Call me crazy, but it seems to me that whether or not the suspect knew right from wrong is largely irrelevant. Eastwood clearly meant to commit a crime and, were it not for the brave intervention of the mathematics teacher who tackled him, would probably have ended up murdering children. Did he “know” that his object was criminal and wrong? How can that matter at all?
Let us suppose, for the purpose of making the case clearer, that Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris didn’t “know” that their killing spree at Columbine High School in 1999 was criminal and wrong, but had persuaded themselves that what they were planning to do was just and justifiable. What does that change for the dead victims and their bereaved families?
Bruco Eastwood’s case is a happy one because in the same county where Klebold and Harris massacred 13 people 12 years ago, he was spared, through no act of his own, from bringing the blood of his would-be victims down upon his misguided head. However, this lucky outcome in no way mitigates the seriousness of his intentions.
According to the Huffington Post, Jurors on Wednesday found Eastwood not guilty by reason of insanity on all but one charge: possession of a weapon on school grounds. District Attorney Scott Storey said he will remain at the state hospital for an indeterminate time until he is deemed legally sane and released. His case will be reviewed every six months. Storey added that the average stay in the state hospital for homicide cases is 7 1/2 years and that, in Eastwood's case, it could be less.
Two things to mull over (that have me confused!): -Why on earth should insanity render a person suddenly “not guilty” of something they indisputably did? -Who thinks it a good idea for this guy to be back out on the street in seven years or less?