Earlier this week we published a link toan online database where you can look to see what kind of military equipment your local county is stockpiling. Several other publications have linked to this database as well. I heard from a couple of people that it might not be a 100% comprehensive list, but others are discovering that, whether it is comprehensive or not, there is a lot to be learned from looking in that database.
Imagine looking and finding out that your county police bought 8 Apache Helicopters and had done so over three years ago. That is exactly the experience from one person whosearched the database for purchases in Brevard County, Florida.
So a National Security Agency recruiter named “Neal Z.” was manning a booth a University of New Mexico job fair when he was confronted by two students with cameras who began interrogating him about the agency’s spying tactics.
It began with one student accusing the NSA of collecting metadata of all phone calls within the United States, which Neal Z. first denied.
But when the student assured him that the NSA does do this, Neal Z. relented and admitted that it was done under the “legal authority” of the secret FISA court (United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court).
A few years ago, when my husband and I lived in the Chicago area, we joined a Bible study group through our church. It was a nice, well-mannered, cordial collection of eight couples who met monthly for dinner and discussion. Upon reflection, our approach was a little unorthodox. After about five to 10 minutes of valiant attempts to stay on topic, we would inevitably drift into wild conversational territory light-years away from the Bible passage at hand. Did I mention we served wine with dinner?
One particularly memorable session, hosted at our house, involved my husband demanding an up-or-down vote on whether or not America was becoming “a fascist police state.” Some people laughed. A few looked horrified. I think I reached for more wine. But as I recall, two voters at that table shot their hands up, ramrod straight, smiles absent, within milliseconds.
Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio downplayed his department’s impending loss of military-grade weaponry that he was defending just last month, KTVK-TV reported.
“It really doesn’t mean anything,” Arpaio said at a press conference on Tuesday. “Look at the handguns. They probably don’t work anyway. We have plenty of our own.”
Arpaio and the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Department have four months to return about 200 weapons, including M-16 and M-14 rifles, as well as two armored vehicles, five helicopters, and 158 pairs of night vision goggles they have acquired through the Defense Department’s Excess Property Program, commonly known as the “1033 program.”
The department will reportedly ask for an extension on one of the helicopters, saying that one they ordered as a replacement will not be ready until March 2015.
Overall, 100 departments around the country were suspended from the program, which provided local law enforcement agencies with surplus military equipment. Arpaio defended the initiative in an interview with The Arizona Republic last month.
“We want this military surplus so we have enough firepower to protect ourselves and the public,” Arpaio was quoted as saying.
However, his department was “terminated” from the program after reportedly losing nine weapons since 1993. Arpaio said last month that between internal audits found between 20 and 22 firearms had “vanished” from his department, with several of them being taken home by officers after they retired.
Arpaio said on Tuesday that his department has replaced most of the weapons it received through the 1033 program with more modern firearms, and plans to buy new night-vision goggles, as well.
“We were buying those anyway,” he said. “We have the money.”
The House Committee on Homeland Security heard testimony today from intelligence apparatchiks Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson, FBI Director James Comey, and Director of the National Counterterrorism Center Matthew Olson concerning potential “threats to the homeland”—with ISIS, naturally, at the center of attention.
The witnesses reminded the committee several times during the proceedings that, in the words of Olson, the intelligence community has “no information that ISIL is plotting an attack against the United States.” Nor, once again, does the intelligence community have any specific evidence that ISIS is trying to ooze through the “porous southern border.” Cue Johnson:
Government information requests are a consequence of doing business in the digital age. We believe in being as transparent as the law allows about what information is requested from us. In addition, Apple has never worked with any government agency from any country to create a “back door” in any of our products or services. We have also never allowed any government access to our servers. And we never will.
Ann Arborites probably remember Martavious Odoms, Vincent Smith and Denard Robinson for their fast footwork in the Big House. But these days the former football stars are developing their green thumbs.
Odoms created the #EATING Project in 2012 to establish a community garden in his and Smith’s hometown of Pahokee, Fla., and he and Smith are currently preparing to start a new garden back in southeast Michigan. Odoms says the idea came from “just wanting to get back to people.”
“As I got older I realized that if I could give back my time and effort, it would mean more than just giving back money or stuff like that,” he says.
Luke Rudkowski meets James Stewart, founder of the private food co-operative Rawesome who was raided in 2010 and ultimately shut down in 2011 in Venice, CA for selling and trading raw dairy products that the FDA did not approve of.
James also discusses the abuse he suffered while in jail after being arrested with multiple conspiracy charges for selling raw food.
Although Rawesome no longer exists, they’re now importing and Olive Oil from Spain: www.oliflixus.com
After forgiving millions of dollars in medical debt, Occupy Wall Street is tackling a new beast: student loans.
Marking the third anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street movement, the group’s Strike Debt initiative announced Wednesday it has abolished $3.8 million worth of private student loan debt since January. It said it has been buying the debts for pennies on the dollar from debt collectors, and then simply forgiving that money rather than trying to collect it.
In total, the group spent a little more than $100,000 to purchase the $3.8 million in debt.
After a nationwide grassroots campaign led by Campaign for Liberty, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 24, ‘Audit the Fed,’ by a vote of 333-92 today. This marks the second time the U.S. House has passed ‘Audit the Fed’ as a standalone bill, after H.R. 459, introduced by Congressman Ron Paul, passed the House in 2012.
Just when you thought Republicans couldn’t sink any lower, they ask Dick Cheney, the guy who screwed up Iraq, for advice on how to fix Iraq.
Seriously, I’m not kidding.
On Tuesday afternoon, the former Vice President spoke to House Republicans at a closed-door meeting on Capitol Hill, where he urged them to take a hard line in the fight against ISIS.
The meeting was basically the GOP’s version of a pep rally, and Cheney spent most of the time bashing “isolationists” and talking about how the Bush administration put the U.S. in a position to “win” in Iraq.
The US government’s threat that it would fine Yahoo $250,000 per day back in 2008 was bad enough by itself, but declassified documents show that the penalties could easily have been much, much worse. Marc Zwillinger and Jacob Sommer (who were on Yahoo’s side in the case) note that $250,000 was merely the baseline, and that the requested fines would double for every week that Yahoo refused to hand over user data. There wasn’t a ceiling, either. At that rate, holding out for any significant amount of time would have been impossible — Yahoo would have lost all of its assets, or $13.8 billion, in just over a year. As such, the fine wasn’t so much a punishment as a weapon that forced the internet firm to comply with a surveillance order it was planning to contest in court.
“Just how charitable are you supposed to be when criticizing the views of an opponent?”
“In disputes upon moral or scientific points,”Arthur Martine counseled in his magnificent1866 guide to the art of conversation, “let your aim be to come at truth, not to conquer your opponent. So you never shall be at a loss in losing the argument, and gaining a new discovery.” Of course, this isn’t what happens most of the time when we argue, both online and off, but especially when we deploy the artillery of our righteousness from behind the comfortable shield of the keyboard. That form of “criticism” — which is really a menace of reacting rather than responding — is worthy of Mark Twain’s memorable remark that “the critic’s symbol should be the tumble-bug: he deposits his egg in somebody else’s dung, otherwise he could not hatch it.” But it needn’t be this way — there are ways to be critical while remaining charitable, of aiming not to “conquer” but to “come at truth,” not to be right at all costs but to understand and advance the collective understanding.