Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Wednesday 10-31-12

LiquidPiston unveils 40-bhp X2 rotary engine with 75 percent thermal efficiency

The internal combustion engine (ICE) has had a remarkably successful century and a half. Unfortunately, it’s notoriously inefficient, wasting anywhere from 30 to 99 percent of the energy it produces and spewing unburned fuel into the air. Last week, Gizmag interviewed Dr. Alexander Shkolnik, President and CEO of LiquidPiston, Inc. about the company's LiquidPiston X2 – a 40-bhp rotary engine that burns a variety of fuels and requires no valves, cooling systems, radiators or mufflers, yet promises a thermodynamic efficiency of 75 percent. (Update: The engine has a goal of achieving a 57 percent brake efficiency.)

Co-founder of LiquidPiston with his father Nikolay, Dr. Shkolnik believes that the internal combustion engine is at the end of its development cycle. According to Shkolnik, after 150 years the ICE has made as many incremental improvements as it can. Many varieties of ICE, such as the Otto cycle used by petrol engines and the Diesel cycle, have had their successful points, but all fall short of being as efficient at they could be. Even what seem like very efficient engines, like the diesel, aren't as good as they might appear.

“Everyone would say at first glance that the diesel engine is more efficient (than the petrol engine). The truth is that if you had both engines at the same compression ratio, the spark-ignited engine has a faster combustion process and a more efficient process. In practice, it’s limited to a lower compression ratio otherwise you get spontaneous ignition.”
LiquidPiston’s approach to the problem was to go back to the basics of thermodynamics and work forward to develop what Shkolnik calls the “High Efficiency Hybrid Cycle” (HEHC), which combines the features of the Otto, Diesel, Rankine, and Atkinson cycles.
The idea is to compress the air in the LiquidPiston X2 engine to a very high ratio as in the diesel cycle and then isolating it in a constant volume chamber. When fuel is injected, it’s allowed to mix with the air and it auto-ignites as in a diesel engine, but the fuel/air mixture isn’t allowed to expand. Instead, it’s kept compressed in a constant volume so it can burn over an extended period, as in the Otto cycle. When the burning fuel/air mix is allowed to expand, it’s then overexpanded to near-atmospheric pressure. In this way, all the fuel is burned and almost all of the energy released is captured as work. Shkolnik calls this use of constant volume combustion “the holy grail of automotive engineering.”
Constant volume combustion and overexpansion provide an HEHC engine like the X2 with a number of benefits. Shkolnik points out that the X2 engine is exceptionally quiet because it burns all of its fuel. In current ICE engines, an alarming amount of fuel goes out the tailpipe. This not only cuts down on fuel efficiency and pollutes the air, it also makes the engine noisy. Since the X2 engine burns its fuel completely, there’s no need for complicated silencing apparatus. (Update: The engine runs quietly due to not needing poppet valves.)
The overexpansion used in the cycle also means that there is very little waste heat. An ICE only converts only 30 percent of its heat into work while the X2 engine has a thermal efficiency of 75 percent, so a water cooling system isn’t necessary. Water may be injected into an HEHC engine during compression or expansion for cooling, but doing so also helps to lubricate and seal the chamber and as the water cools the engine it converts into superheated steam, which boosts engine efficiency.
Shkolnik says that the X2 engine is a rotary because piston engines aren’t suitable for the HEHC and a rotary engine provides much more flexibility. Also, the use of a rotary design greatly simplifies the engine with only three moving parts and 13 major components required. That allows the X2 to be one-tenth the size of a comparable diesel engine.
When asked whether the X2 engine isn’t just an updated Wankel, Shkolnik pointed out that though both are rotary engines, the Wankel is very different. For one thing, it uses a straightforward Otto cycle like a piston engine and operates at a much lower compression rate than the X2. In comparison, the X2 engine is almost the opposite of a Wankel. “It’s almost like the Wankel engine flipped inside-out,” said Shkolnik.
Not only does the X2 engine work on a different principle from the Wankel, but it doesn't suffer from the same limitations. The X2 engine has a better surface to volume ratio, it doesn’t have the thermodynamic limitations of the Otto cycle and it doesn't have the emissions problems of the Wankel. The Wankel has apex seals that are carried around with the rotor and need to be lubricated. To do this, oil has to be sprayed on them, which means that the Wankel is burning oil as it runs, resulting in the high emissions that have recently curtailed its use. The X2 engine, on the other hand, moves the seals from the rotor to the housing, so no special lubrication is required.

Another way that the X2 engine differs from the Wankel is that Shkolnik has no intention of it sharing the same fate as the Wankel, which turned into an automotive also-ran when put head to head with the ICE or hybrid electrics to power motor cars, (though he admits that the X2 engine would be an excellent range extender for hybrids). Instead, he plans to go after niche markets that can use the X2’s peculiar strengths.
One place where the X2 engine may have an advantage is in auxiliary power units (APUs). Shkolnik said that an enormous amount of diesel fuel is wasted by lorry drivers for “hotel” purposes. That is, when they stop overnight they leave their engines idling to provide power for the living amenities of their long-distance rigs. Small, lightweight diesel power units with high fuel efficiency, he believes, would be particularly attractive.
Another area is military applications. The U.S. military has a need for APUs that can run on heavy fuels, which the X2 engine can. Also, the Pentagon is very keen on developing robots. According to Shkolnik, “you can do amazing things with robots, but ask a robot to carry this giant engine and there’s problems.” He believes that the X2 engine may be the answer to these problems. In addition, the military has need of APUs for tanks, which suffer from extremely bad fuel efficiency from idling to run electronics.
Currently, LiquidPiston is running its original X1 engine in tests, which has been built after only a year from its first design concept. This month, the company unveiled the X2, which is a more fully integrated engine with a simpler construction, at the DEER Conference in Dearborn, Michigan. Shkolnik says that the X2 will be available for partner tests in 2013 as a new round of financing is launched and he hopes to have a preproduction prototype by 2014.

You mean to tell me (with tounge firmly embedded in my cheek) that the news media would fabricate something for the sake of looking good?  Of course they would and do every day.
  Superstorm Sandy photos that aren't what they seem

This photo of the Old Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington was actually taken in September, not during Hurricane Sandy. (Courtesy Karin Markert) )Gallery: (8 images)

WASHINGTON - As the hurricane raged toward shore Monday, a number of incredible photos created a storm of response on social media. But as some may have wondered, many of them were too incredible to be real.
One photo out of D.C., picked up and passed around Monday wasn't what it seemed.

The photo shows the Old Guard standing at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington as rain pours around them.
Unfortunately, the photo isn't related to Hurricane Sandy. It wasn't even taken in October.
The photo is from a changing-of-the-guard ceremony at the tomb in September, photographed by Karin Merkert, a military spouse. Many news organizations and social media users thought it was taken during Hurricane Sandy.
While Merkert says it was unexpected that her older photo was picked up and shared Monday, she is happy it brought deserved attention to the Old Guard, who were working through the storm.
"It was nice to recognize not only were the guard in the Tomb yesterday, they were also participating in funerals at Arlington National Cemetary, filling thousands of sandbags, prepositioning sandbags ... They were very busy yesterday," Merkert says.
In response to the photo's popularity, the Old Guard responded to multiple re- tweets of the doctored photo, and released new photos ahead of the storm.

The Old Guard

@The_Old_Guard @tjortenzi Thanks for posting the pic about @The_Old_Guard, but that is not from today. This one is

29 Oct 12 ReplyRetweetFavoriteAs misleading photos go, it wasn't the only one. As Hurricane Sandy approached the East Coast, more doctored photos began making their own waves on social media. The Atlantic did some digging and discovered which were real and which were fake.
As the Atlantic reports, the fake photos come in three types: Real photos taken long before the storm that were re-released in anticipation of Sandy, Photoshopped photos that are not real and a combination of old photos that are Photoshopped pictures being sent out again.
That said, there are plenty of real photos of storm damage. There is the photo of a facade that fell off a New York apartment building, leaving it looking like a dollhouse; the photo of flood waters rushing into the Hoboken, N.J. PATH station and another photo of water spilling into the construction site at Ground Zero. Those are all real.

The photos of sharks swimming in New Jersey's flood waters are not.

For more storm photo confusion, check out Buzzfeed's story featuring the notorious images often sent circulating onto social media during bad weather.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Tuesday 10-30-12

Looks like they caught another one.

 Woman Says TSA Agent Stole Jewels At Logan Airport

Terri Ivester was on her way to a family christening in Chicago when she ran into a snag at the security checkpoint at Logan Airport.
Terri Ivester says, “The TSA agent holds my backpack up, and um, says there’s a water bottle in this backpack, I’m going to have to take that.”
That’s when Ivester says the agent left the area with her bag.
George Nacara, who is head of the TSA at Logan, tells the I-Team that passengers have the right to stay with their bags.
Ivester says she continued through the security checkpoint and she never gave it another thought until she got dressed for the christening.
“I’m ready to put on my jewelry and I can’t find it,” she says.
She realized she was missing four pieces including a single strand of pearls and a double strand bracelet totaling $3,700.
“It had gone through the scanner, I think they saw the jewels and took them,” says Ivester.
The Transportation Security Administration recently revealed that 382 of its agents have been fired for theft in the past ten years.
According to Nacara, six TSA agents have been fired from Logan out of the thousands hired. He says Logan’s high-tech security camera system closely monitors checkpoints and is often used to resolve cases of theft.
But there is a catch. The tapes are only saved for 30 days and Ivester says she lost time initially filing her complaint with police. By the time she made her claim with TSA it was too late.
The I-Team also analyzed thousands of reports of stolen items nationwide, laptops, watches, currency and jewelry. Since 2011 – more than $60,000 worth of claims were filed in Boston. TSA reimbursed less than $3,000.
Not surprising to Nacara, who says closed circuit cameras often reveal items are stolen by other passengers.
Still the Airline Passenger Rights Association warns travelers a series of recent TSA firings means there’s plenty of reason for concern.
The TSA’s advice: While they are watching you with your cameras, you should keep a close eye on your belongings.   Governmental waste, it would be funny if it were not so sad, your and my tax dollars are paying for this.   Over $60,000 in Welfare Spent Per Household in Poverty   New data compiled by the Republican side of the Senate Budget Committee shows that, last year, the United States spent over $60,000 to support welfare programs per each household that is in poverty. The calculations are based on data from the Census, the Office of Management and Budget, and the Congressional Research Services."According to the Census’s American Community Survey, the number of households with incomes below the poverty line in 2011 was 16,807,795," the Senate Budget Committee notes. "If you divide total federal and state spending by the number of households with incomes below the poverty line, the average spending per household in poverty was $61,194 in 2011."
This dollar figure is almost three times the amount the average household on poverty lives on per year. "If the spending on these programs were converted into cash, and distributed exclusively to the nation’s households below the poverty line, this cash amount would be over 2.5 times the federal poverty threshold for a family of four, which in 2011 was $22,350 (see table in this link)," the Republicans on the Senate Budget Committee note.
To be clear, not all households living below the poverty line receive $61,194 worth of assistance per year. After all, many above the poverty line also receive benefits from social welfare programs (e.g. pell grants).
But if welfare is meant to help bring those below the poverty line to a better place, it helps demonstrate that numbers do not add up.
As for the welfare programs, the Republicans on the Senate Budget Committee note:

Monday, October 29, 2012

Monday 10-29-12

Cool tool update, it is against the law to have a hidden handcuff key and not declare it to the police, at least in some states.  Saw this interesting article on Survival Blog.

The 2005 Florida Statutes

Title XLVI

CRIMES Chapter 843

843.021 Unlawful possession of a concealed handcuff key.--
(1) As used in this section, the term:
(a) "In custody" means any time while a person has been placed in handcuffs by a law enforcement officer, regardless of whether such person is under formal arrest.
(b) "Handcuff key" means any key, tool, device, implement, or other thing used, designed, or intended to aid in unlocking or removing handcuffs.
(c) "Concealed handcuff key" means any handcuff key carried by a person in a manner that indicates an intent to prevent discovery of the key by a law enforcement officer, including, but not limited to, a handcuff key carried:
1. In a pocket of a piece of clothing of a person, and unconnected to any key ring;
2. On a necklace of a person;
3. On the body part of a person or on any item of clothing of such person, when the handcuff key is secured on the body part or item of clothing by use of tape, glue, line, or other material;
4. In or within any compartment, seam, fold, or other encasement within any item of clothing, belt, shoe, or jewelry of a person;
5. In or within any sock, hose, shoe, belt, undergarment, glove, hat, or similar item of clothing or accessory of a person;
6. By a person and disguised as jewelry or other object; or
7. In or within any body cavity of a person.
(2) Any person who possesses a concealed handcuff key commits a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.
(3) It is a defense to a charge of violating this section that, immediately upon being placed in custody, the person in custody actually and effectively disclosed to the law enforcement officer that he or she was in possession of a concealed handcuff key.
(4)(a) It is a defense to a charge of violating this section that the person in custody and in possession of a concealed handcuff key is:
1. A federal, state, or local law enforcement officer, including a reserve or auxiliary officer, a licensed security officer, or a private investigator as defined in s. 493.6101; or
2. A professional bail bond agent, temporary bail bond agent, runner, or limited surety agent as defined in s. 648.25.
(b) However, the defense is not available to any officer, investigator, agent, or runner listed in this subsection if the officer, investigator, agent, or runner, immediately upon being placed in custody, fails to actually and effectively disclose possession of the concealed handcuff key.
History.--s. 1, ch. 2000-230.

Lieing again, first it was we just want this to get dead tags,  then people cheating on their registration now admit the real end game, it is the smae on all along.

Law Enforcement Looking To Create A Searchable Database Of Everywhere Your Vehicle Has Been

from the oh-wow...-a-Google-with-even-LESS-privacy dept

Back in August, Mike wrote about some questionable sharing of license plate information between the US Border Patrol and various insurance companies. While the stated aim of tracking stolen vehicles might seem to make this sharing justified, the fact that this is going on with no oversight or accountability is cause for alarm.
Of course, law enforcement has long had big plans for license plate readers (LPRs). The ACLU has come across a recording of a 2010 National Institute of Justice conference in which one of the speakers expresses an interest in building LPR data into a "Google" of license plate locations.
Dale Stockton, Program Manager of the “Road Runner” project at the Automated Regional Justice Information System in San Diego spoke on a panel on license readers at the 2010 conference and explained to police and prosecutors in attendance how best to share license plate data. Mind you, he was talking about the location information of people never accused of any crime.

Stockton knows this would never fly if attempted directly. He states as much in the transcript:

We're probably not going to have any centralized national giant bucket of license plate reader data. It probably wouldn't stand the court of public opinion, and it's probably something that, given where we are in the rollout cycle, wouldn't easily be done, but we can develop regional sharing capability...

But the "court of public opinion" can be routed around, according to Stockton. Despite frankly stating that the public would find a "Google of license plates" odious, he intends to do just that, through a series of back doors.

And so doing, you get those set up and then begin to share between those regions, and as you begin to look beyond your region, utilize a trusted broker like Nlets...
Every law enforcement agency has a connection to Nlets. Nlets would serve not as a storage unit but as a pointer system, something akin to a Google, so that when you check a plate, Nlets would point you in the direction of where that plate can be found, and the result of that would be a query in one state by an investigator could give an indication of plates of interest in other states, and then that information can be pulled back.

If Stockton has his way, a decentralized search system for license plates, routed through a third-party's software, will perform exactly the way he wants it to. Somehow he feels that a distributed system is OK while a centralized system isn't. Or rather, he feels that both systems are OK, but the public will only put up with the illusion that law enforcement isn't running a Google-esque system of harvested plate data.
Is the fear of a system like this overblown? Every law enforcement official at the conference runs down several anecdotes about how the plate reading system has aided them in investigating various crimes. But should law enforcement have access to nationwide plate data, much of which pertains to citizens who have never been accused of a crime, much less committed one? Stockton tries to justify the LPR system by comparing it to officers running plates in person.

One of the questions about license plate readers is this kind of hocus pocus, "you are invading my privacy; it's super intrusive." And I come from the opposite end of the spectrum. I truly believe that this technology is only doing what license plate readers have already — I'm sorry — what officers have already been doing in the field for many, many years.
The courts have indicated to us that officers can look at a plate and run it. So let's just go down quickly here through the two sides, an officer doing it and the license plate reader doing it. Officers can run plates anytime they want. The courts have held that's why we put the state plate on there, so an officer can check and make sure it's current and it's not wanted. Well, the license plate reader is doing the exact same thing. It's looking at it; it's checking that plate to see if it's wanted. The officer can pick and choose among the vehicles that he or she looks at.

The biggest difference here is the "always on" aspect and the fact that everyone is tracked. "Reasonable suspicion" and the like are taken completely off the table and replaced with an indiscriminate system that harvests data. It's a handy way to peel back another layer of privacy, as Kade Crockford of the ACLU states:

We've been making a lot of noise about location tracking of late. License plate readers rank high among the technologies that are threatening our privacy with respect to our travel patterns. Where we go says a lot about who we are, and law enforcement agencies nationwide are increasingly obtaining detailed information about where we go without any judicial oversight or reason to believe we are up to no good. Stockton says we have nothing to worry about with respect to license plate reader data and privacy, that that's all "hocus pocus." But he's wrong.
We must ensure license plate readers do not become license plate trackers.

As Crockford points out, the Department of Justice has already stated that Americans have "no privacy interest" when it comes to cellphone location information. The DOJ's rationale could easily stretch to fit this scenario. But what's "good" for the American public is rarely viewed as acceptable for those writing the guidelines or using the technology. For all the talk about "nothing to hide," officials are very touchy when it comes to making their information accessible.

Data from license plate readers in Minnesota was obtained by a St. Paul car dealer using open-records laws, and used to repossess at least one car, according to a recent article in the Minneapolis Star Tribune. The article included this amusing tidbit:
"When the Star Tribune published data tracking Mayor R.T. Rybak's city-owned car over the past year, the mayor asked police Chief Tim Dolan to make a recommendation for a new policy about data retention."

So, the question that needs to be asked of every politician and law enforcement member who feels this system will only be used for catching "bad guys" is whether or not they'd mind having their location tracked via license plate readers. Stockton's pushing for something he knows the public won't stand for and is using successful investigations as the ends to justify the privacy-violating means.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Saturday 10-27-12

Concealable Backup Universal Handcuff Key

Concealable, plastic universal handcuff Key - 4 Pack of keys. Popular as a SERE kit key.
Universal "plastic" handcuff key opens all brand of cuffs. The flat, round shape conceals its purpose as a handcuff key. Made from thermoplastic resin blend, this durable, lightweight handcuff key evades metal detectors and can be hidden behind shirt and pant buttons or siliconed beneath watches and mace cans. This universal handcuff key can be hooked on shirt tags, pant leg hems, hat brims, sun glasses cords, spare buttons, etc. This universal handcuff key was designed and patented for hostage evasion scenarios. Handcuffs continue to be the restraint of choice for hostage management, given their wide availability and ease of hostage transport. Thus, this concealable, durable universal handcuff key could be a life saver for travelers abroad.
In the event that personnel are trapped in a pair of handcuffs or related leg restraints, they can silently access and remove these universal handcuff keys hidden in their clothing. Using their thumb and index finger on one hand, they can silently twist out the universal cuff key from its retaining ring and unlock the cuffs. While slightly larger than a nickel the unique design of this universal handcuff key enables the user to secure the cuff key behind buttons on any type of clothing and buttoning the clothing normally over top the key. The extremely lightweight form factor does not show through the clothing, nor does it create any telling ripples or wrinkles in the clothing. Even the latest technology in metal detectors does not reveal the presence of this universal plastic handcuff key.
The exact size of this universal handcuff key matches the back of many watches, including the Timex Iron Man and the Casio G-Shock watches. Users can silicone the key to the back of the watch. The key blends with the shape, size and material of these watches, so its presence is seamless and undetectable.
The special material blend is critical to the function of this universal key. The cuff key is lightweight and durable enough to be used as a daily cuff key. However, the key itself can be easily and silently removed from its retaining ring with a single index finger and thumb. This "plastic" handcuff key works on all brands of handcuffs.
Existing users of the universal handcuff key usually wear between 4 and 12 keys on their person.
This is original, patented, concealable universal handcuff key. This universal handcuff key really is your "key to surviving a hostage situation." As illustrated below, the universal handcuff key is available in black, olive drab, tan and white. Color improves the ability for the key to blend in to the surrounding materials.
Supreme Court to hear arguments over government spying

A debate over how freely the government can eavesdrop on international communications reaches a climax on Monday in the country's highest court.At issue is a law passed by Congress in 2008 allowing the government to monitor the overseas communications of individuals without obtaining a warrant for each target.
The government has said it needs flexible surveillance power to help prevent strikes by foreign militants such as the attacks of September 11, 2001.
But a group of attorneys, journalists and human rights organizations has challenged the law, saying thousands or even millions of innocent Americans are likely being monitored merely because they are communicating with people overseas.
In oral arguments on Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court will consider whether the challengers have the right to bring a suit against the law.
The government argues that, because the surveillance is secret, the challengers cannot prove they have been harmed by the law and therefore do not have standing to challenge it.
The challengers argue that they are harmed because they must travel to meet their clients and sources in person, to avoid wiretaps. Human Rights Watch, one of the challengers, has had to pay for more plane tickets, translators, drivers and guides because of the law, the group's general counsel, Dinah PoKempner, said.
Although the question of standing is a technical one, a victory for the government could end the challenge to the law.
If the government prevails at this stage, it will have shielded its surveillance laws from review by the courts, said Jameel Jaffer, a lawyer who represents the individuals and organizations challenging the law.
It's unclear how the high court will rule. Since the September 11 attacks, the court has shown a reluctance to intervene in the executive branch's national security and intelligence-gathering procedures. The fact that the court took the case means that at least four justices saw problems with a lower court ruling allowing the case to proceed.
Congress passed the original Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act in 1978 to clamp down on government spying, which had escalated in the 1960s and 1970s. The law required the government to submit a surveillance application to a special court for each overseas individual it was targeting.
After the attacks of September 11, 2001, President George W. Bush authorized the National Security Agency's use of warrantless wiretaps in the hunt for people with ties to al Qaeda and other militant groups. The Bush administration ended that program in 2007, but Congress legalized parts of it in an overhaul of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act in 2008.
Under the new law, the government no longer has to provide the court with specific names, phone numbers or email addresses of people to be tapped. Instead, it can apply for permission to conduct mass surveillance merely by stating that it plans to monitor non-U.S. persons overseas to gather foreign intelligence.
The challengers filed a lawsuit saying the new procedures violate the U.S. Constitution's Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable search and seizures by allowing the government to sweep up communications with little judicial oversight.
One of the challengers, David Nevin, who is a lawyer for the accused September 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, said the 2008 law puts lawyers on the "horns of a dilemma."
Ethics rules prohibit lawyers from holding sensitive conversations with clients when there's a chance the government is eavesdropping, he said. As a result, Nevin limits what he says by phone and email and instead travels to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to talk to his client. But those constraints can make it harder to provide the effective legal assistance that ethical rules also require.
"We've gone back to the Stone Age," said Tina Foster, a human rights lawyer who joined a brief in support of the challengers. "It's like eliminating the benefit of telecommunication and access to information."
In 2009 a federal district court in New York found that the challengers failed to prove they had been harmed by the law. But in 2011 the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed, allowing the suit to proceed based on the plaintiffs' fear of surveillance and the cost of trying to avoid it.
The government then petitioned the Supreme Court, arguing that the challengers did not have standing to bring their suit. To have standing, the challengers had to show that their injuries were "actual or imminent, not conjectural or hypothetical," the government said in its petition.
Six former U.S. attorneys general have submitted a brief supporting the government, warning that allowing the suit to proceed would open the floodgates to litigation that would risk exposing state secrets.
The Justice Department declined to comment before Monday's oral arguments.
In separate litigation, civil liberties groups tried to hold phone companies including AT&T Inc, Sprint Nextel Corp and Verizon Communications Inc accountable for helping the government eavesdrop on private conversations. A federal appeals court in December found the companies immune to the suits, and the Supreme Court this month declined to review that case.
The case before the U.S. Supreme Court is Clapper et al v. Amnesty International et al, No. 11-1025.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Friday 10-26-12

This is why some people become sheeple

America’s Schools: Breeding Grounds for Compliant Citizens

By John W. Whitehead                  October 15, 2012

“[P]ublic school reform is now justified in the dehumanizing language of national security, which increasingly legitimates the transformation of schools into adjuncts of the surveillance and police state… students are increasingly subjected to disciplinary apparatuses which limit their capacity for critical thinking, mold them into consumers, test them into submission, strip them of any sense of social responsibility and convince large numbers of poor minority students that they are better off under the jurisdiction of the criminal justice system than by being valued members of the public schools.”—Professor Henry Giroux

For those hoping to better understand how and why we arrived at this dismal point in our nation’s history, where individual freedoms, privacy and human dignity have been sacrificed to the gods of security, expediency and corpocracy, look no farther than America’s public schools.

Once looked to as the starting place for imparting principles of freedom and democracy to future generations, America’s classrooms are becoming little more than breeding grounds for compliant citizens. The moment young people walk into school, they increasingly find themselves under constant surveillance: they are photographed, fingerprinted, scanned, x-rayed, sniffed and snooped on. Between metal detectors at the entrances, drug-sniffing dogs in the hallways and surveillance cameras in the classrooms and elsewhere, many of America’s schools look more like prisons than learning facilities.

Add to this the epidemic of arresting schoolchildren and treating them as if they are dangerous criminals, and you have the makings of a perfect citizenry for our emerging police state—one that can be easily cowed, controlled, and directed. Now comes the latest development in the sad deconstruction of our schools: “smart” identification cards containing Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags that allow school officials to track every step students take. So small that they are barely detectable to the human eye, RFID tags produce a radio signal by which the wearer’s precise movements can be constantly monitored.

A pilot program using these RFID cards is being deployed at two schools in San Antonio, Texas’ Northside School District. In the so-called name of school safety, some 4,200 students at Jay High School and Jones Middle School are being required to carry these “smart” ID cards embedded with an RFID tracking chip which will actively broadcast a signal at all times. Although the schools already boast 290 surveillance cameras, the cards will make it possible for school officials to track students’ whereabouts at all times.

School officials hope to expand the program to the district’s 112 schools, with a student population of 100,000. As always, there’s a money incentive hidden within these programs, in this case, it’s increased state funding for the school system. Although implementation of the system will cost $500,000, school administrators are hoping that if the school district is able to increase attendance by tracking the students’ whereabouts, they will be rewarded with up to $1.7 million from the state government.

High school sophomore Andrea Hernandez, who is actively boycotting the RFID cards, was told that “there will be consequences for refusal to wear an ID card.” Students who refuse to take part in the ID program won’t be able to access essential services like the cafeteria and library, nor will they be able to purchase tickets to extracurricular activities. Hernandez was prevented from voting for Homecoming King and Queen after school officials refused to verify her identity using her old ID card. According to Hernandez, teachers are even requiring students to wear the IDs when they want to use the bathroom. School officials reportedly offered to quietly remove the tracking chip from Andrea’s card if the sophomore would agree to wear the new ID, stop criticizing the program and publicly support the initiative. Hernandez refused the offer.

This is not the first time that schools have sprung RFID chips on unsuspecting students and their parents. Schools in California and Connecticut have tried similar systems, and Houston, Texas began using RFID chips to track students as early as 2004. With the RFID business booming, a variety of companies, including AIM Truancy Solutions, ID Card Group and DataCard, market and sell RFID trackers to school districts throughout the country, claiming they can increase security and attendance. For example, AIM Truancy Solutions, a Dallas-based company, claims that its tracking system boosts attendance by twelve percent.

RFID tags are not the only surveillance tools being used on America’s young people. Chronically absent middle schoolers in Anaheim, Calif., have been enrolled in a GPS tracking program. As journalist David Rosen explains:

Each school day, the delinquent students get an automated ‘wake-up’ phone call reminding them that they need to get to school on time. In addition, five times a day they are required to enter a code that tracks their locations: as they leave for school, when they arrive at school, at lunchtime, when they leave school and at 8pm. These students are also assigned an adult ‘coach’ who calls them at least three times a week to see how they are doing and help them find effective ways to make sure they get to school.

Some schools in New York, New Jersey, and Missouri are tracking obese and overweight students with wristwatches that record their heart rate, movement and sleeping habits. Schools in San Antonio have chips in their lunch food trays, which allow administrators to track the eating habits of students. Schools in Michigan’s second largest school district broadcast student activity caught by CCTV cameras on the walls of the hallways in real time to let students know they’re being watched.

Some school districts have even gone so far as to electronically track students without notifying their parents. In 2010, it was revealed that a Pennsylvania school district had given students laptops installed with software that allowed school administrators to track their behavior at home. This revelation led to the threat of a class-action lawsuit, which resulted in the school district settling with irate students and parents for $600,000. Similarly, in 2003, a Tennessee middle school placed cameras in the school’s locker rooms, capturing images of children changing before basketball practice. Thankfully, the US Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals struck down the practice in 2008, ruling that students have an expectation of privacy in locker rooms.

Clearly, there’s something more sinister afoot than merely tracking which students are using the bathroom and which are on lunch break. Concerned parent Judy Messer understands what’s at stake. “We do not want our children to be conditioned that tracking is normal or even acceptable or mandatory,” she shared.

“Conditioned” is the key word, of course. As Richard Hackman and Greg Oldham recognized in their book, Work Redesign, laboratory animals, children, and institutionalized adults “are necessarily dependent on powerful others for many of the things they most want and need, and their behavior usually can be shaped with relative ease.” Taking those ideas one step further, psychologist Bruce Levine noted, “Behaviorism and consumerism, two ideologies which achieved tremendous power in the twentieth century, are cut from the same cloth. The shopper, the student, the worker, and the voter are all seen by consumerism and behaviorism the same way: passive, conditionable objects.”

To return to what I was saying about schools being breeding grounds for compliant citizens, if Americans have come to view freedom as expedient and expendable, it is only because that’s what they’ve been taught in the schools, by government leaders and by the corporations who run the show.

More and more Americans are finding themselves institutionalized from cradle to grave, from government-run daycares and public schools to nursing homes. In between, they are fed a constant, mind-numbing diet of pablum consisting of entertainment news, mediocre leadership, and technological gadgetry, which keeps them sated and distracted and unwilling to challenge the status quo. All the while, in the name of the greater good and in exchange for the phantom promise of security, the government strips away our rights one by one—monitoring our conversations, chilling our expression, searching our bodies and our possessions, doing away with our due process rights, reversing the burden of proof and rendering us suspects in a surveillance state.

Whether or not the powers-that-be, by their actions, are consciously attempting to create a compliant citizenry, the result is the same nevertheless for young and old alike.

WC: 1376

Mom Found ‘Guilty’ By Court After Refusing TSA Pat Down On Daughter
Woman put on probation for standing up to security theater procedure
Steve Watson Oct 24, 2012
A woman who stood up to TSA screeners and refused to allow them to grope her or her 14 year old daughter has been found guilty of “disorderly conduct” and sentenced to one year of probation by a court in Tennessee.

Back in July 2011, Andrea Fornella Abbott of Clarksville, was arrested by Nashville airport authorities for expressing outrage at the TSA procedures.
A police report stated that Abbott would not allow her daughter to be “touched inappropriately” or have her “crotch grabbed”. Abbott also refused to submit to a full body scan, saying that she did not want her or her daughters’ naked bodies revealed by the scanner.
The report noted that she attempted to take cell phone video of the incident but was prevented from doing so by the TSA screeners.
When police were called to the scene, Abbott reportedly cursed at them and referred to the TSA screeners as pedophiles, leading to her arrest.

The Associated Press reports that the prosecution argued that Abbott’s behavior “prevented others from carrying out their lawful activities,” and held up two security lines for thirty minutes.
“You can speak your mind, but you can’t do it in an illegal manner,’ said Assistant District Attorney Megan King, adding “What the defendant did was a crime.”
The defense argued that Abbot was exercising her right to free speech. “Telling a police officer your opinion, even in strong language, to me that’s a First Amendment right,” Abbot’s attorney Brent Horst told reporters.
Abbott herself admitted that she may have cursed at police officers, but considered the exchange to be a “normal conversation” regarding the inappropriate nature of pat-downs on children.
Horst presented surveillance video of the incident, and claimed that Abbot was the one being yelled at by police. Although the video had no audio, it showed that other passengers were walking around Abbot and the police officers, and that security lines were still moving.
“It’s clear from the video … she wasn’t preventing anything,” Horst said. In closing arguments the attorney stated “Since 9/11, we’re losing a lot of freedom, and we have to draw the line somewhere,” before praising Abbot for standing on principle.
As we have documented, people who opt out of body scanners or those who simply fail to display the proper level of obedience to TSA screeners are routinely subjected to punishment by means of invasive grope downs or other forms of retaliation.
Journalists who are critical of the TSA have also been singled out for retribution.
The TSA is also operating bizarre obedience training programs, including the ridiculous “all stop” policy where travelers are ordered to freeze on the spot for no reason whatsoever. Again, the TSA has admitted that travelers are not mandated to comply with these bizarre displays of security theater.
The TSA has characterized people who do not fully comply with airport screening procedures, no matter how bizarre or invasive, as “domestic extremists.”

The verdict in Andrea Fornella Abbott’s case sets a dangerous precedent along the lines of First amendment rights not being applicable at security checkpoints. The verdict essentially paves the way for criminally punishing anyone who questions TSA procedures, no matter how bizarre they are.

Thursday 10-25-12

Ronald Eugene Rosser (born October 24, 1929) is a former United States Army soldier who received the United States military's highest decoration, the Medal of Honor, for his actions in the Korean War.

Born on October 24, 1929, in Columbus, Ohio, Rosser was the second oldest of seventeen children. He joined the Army in 1946 at age 17 for a three year term of service. After one of his brothers was killed in the early stages of the Korean War, he re-enlisted from Crooksville, Ohio, in 1951 as a way of getting revenge. Initially stationed in Japan, Rosser requested to be sent into combat and was then deployed to Korea with the heavy mortar company of the 38th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division.
On January 12, 1952, Rosser, by then a corporal, was acting as a forward observer with Company L's lead platoon during an assault on a heavily fortified hill near Ponggilli. When the unit came under heavy fire, Rosser went forward three times and attacked the hostile positions alone, each time returning to friendly lines to gather more ammunition before charging the hill again. Although wounded himself, he helped carry injured soldiers to safety once withdrawal became necessary. For these actions, Rosser was awarded the Medal of Honor.
Rosser returned to the United States in May 1952 and was formally presented with the Medal of Honor by President Harry Truman a month later, on June 27, 1952.
In 1968, another of Rosser's brothers was killed in action, this time in the Vietnam War. Rosser requested a combat assignment in Vietnam but was rejected and subsequently retired from the Army.

Doubt you would find anything useful, but you might find something interesting, besides it is free Ivy league for free

WASHINGTON - Continuing your education can be pricey, even at schools with the most lax requirements. But what if you could take classes like Introduction to Mathematical Thinking or An Introduction to the U.S. Food System: Perspectives from Public Health - for free? And if that's not intriguing enough, what if you could take them from home? And from universities like Stanford or Johns Hopkins?
Well, it's not a "What if?" While you won't walk off with a college degree, offers classes that really are free and taught online by professors from Stanford, Duke, Princeton, Berklee College of Music, the University of Maryland and 28 other schools.
Coursera describes itself as a "social entrepreneurship company" with a goal of providing anyone and everyone with a world-class education - the type of education previously available only to a select few.
While some controversy surrounds how effective online classes can be, Coursera says 45 independent studies show online learning is at least as effective as face- to-face teaching. One study in particular, conducted by the U.S. Department of Education over a period of 12 years, showed students in online classes "performed modestly better."
Coursera also preaches the importance of immediate feedback and giving opportunities to redo homework so a subject can be mastered. Read more about Coursera's "pedagogy" here.
The best part about Coursera - well, other than that it's free - is the ability to take whatever class you want. This isn't for a degree, so you can take the fun classes. Or if you want to challenge yourself, you don't have to worry about bringing down your GPA if it doesn't work out.
Currently, there are 199 courses available. One that may pique the interest of radio lovers is Emory University's Introduction to Digital Sound Design, taught by Steve Everett. The four-week class has a full syllabus and starts Jan. 28.
A fun one I plan to take is The Language of Hollywood: Storytelling, Sound, and Color. This five-week course starts in February and covers the history of changes in film technology and their effects on Hollywood storytelling. Check it out here.
One class I have no plans to take from Stanford University is Probabilistic Graphical Models. (Yeah - it's a thing.) That 11-week course started in September and is taught by Dr. Daphne Koller. Check out her bio.
Another class I wouldn't be caught dead in - or at least sleeping through in a college classroom - is Coding the Matrix: Linear Algebra through Computer Science Applications. This data analysis class comes to you online courtesy of Brown University.
Part of me can't believe that there's anyone who knows what these course names mean, let alone that there are people who would pay for them. But there are, and they do. And you can do it for free.
You can check out other news coverage on Coursera here. I could say more - but you must excuse me. I've got to get to my Calculus: Single Variable class at Penn.
OK, not really. But if I wanted to, I could.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Wednesday 10-24-12

TSA Pulls Use Of Controversial Full Body Scanners At JFK, LaGuardia Airports
Agency: Machines Are Safe, But Move Will Help Speed Up Security Lines

The controversial full body airport scanners are being removed from LaGuardia and John F. Kennedy International, the Transportation Security Administration announced Sunday.

The Backscatter machines were first used at JFK exactly two years ago amid a flurry of controversy.

Opponents said the very detailed image of the human body provided by the machines is an invasion of privacy, while others argued the level of radiation emitted by the Backscatters could be dangerous over the long term.

The TSA said its decision to pull the machines is in an effort to speed up security lines at the two New York City airports, and insists the full body scanners are safe.

Some passengers at LaGuardia said they did not mind the use of the Backscatter body scanner machines.

“It didn’t bother me personally. Again, if I want to be a safe on a plane, if that’s what they need to do to get us on there and have us arrive safely, it’s fine by me,” one woman told WCBS 880′s Peter Haskell.

“Just feel real confident. Once I go through there, I know everything’s been checked out,” another air traveler told Haskell.

Each Backscatter machine costs $160,000, Haskell reported.

“If they can keep the same level of security then I have no issue with it, but they have to get an alternative to make sure that the passengers and the airlines are secure,” another traveler told Haskell.

Officials said currently there are nearly 250 full body scanners at 37 airports nationwide.

Newark Liberty International Airport uses a completely different machine called a millimeter wave machine, which is considered to be a safer technology.

What your brain is doing while you nap
Like to take naps? There's new research suggesting what brains are up to while their owners are snoozing.
The right side of the brain goes into overdrive while napping compared to its neighboring left hemisphere.
The team of neuroscientists at Georgetown University Medical Center who made these findings speculate the brain is doing helpful housekeeping working to consolidate memories or classify data. Or they say, maybe the right brain is just daydreaming.
Studies monitoring brain activity show the brain's right side, which is associated with creativity, talks to itself while people nap. It also communicates with the left side, which is associated with logic, language and critical thinking. The left side of brain also talks to itself and its neighbor, but not nearly as much as the right side.
The brain side busyness is universal according to the study author who says the findings were not influenced by whether a person is left- or right-handed.
What the researchers don't know yet is whether one brain side being busier might benefit lefties more than right handed people.
The study was done by monitoring 15 volunteers while they slept. The research has been presented at Neuroscience 2012, the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Tuesday 10-23-12

Well if the antigun people are right, then there should be gun battles all the time, they have Concealed carry permits, they have the most registered automatic weapons in the US.  Obviously the news is not reporting all these gun battles.

Va. has most registered machine guns in U.S.

Virginia leads the nation in the number of legally owned machine guns that are fully automatic.
Federal figures show there were 30,220 registered fully automatic machine guns in Virginia as of March. Florida had the second-highest total with 29,128, followed by California with 28,774.
The annual report from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives says there were nearly 500,000 registered machine guns nationally.
An ATF spokeswoman told The Roanoke Times ( that privacy issues prevent the agency from releasing a breakdown of ownership by category.
Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police executive director Dana Schrad says fully automatic machine guns are rarely used to commit crimes. She says the weapons also are less of a threat because authorities know who own them.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Monday 10-22-12

Innocent until proven guilty?  Or is it like a sin tax?  It maybe a wave of the future, seeing them tax your ammo and parts out of existence.
If You Own a Gun You Must be Violent!   Previously, I have accused Illinois lawmakers of being mentally deficient, but I did not mean it as a personal challenge to prove me right!

Whether or not you are violent, if you live in Cook County, Illinois (Chicago) you are set to be the subject of a new “Violence Tax.” Cook County Board President, Toni Preckwinkle, recently floated the proposal for a Violence Tax. This new and unwarranted tax seeks to target the sale of guns and ammunition sold in the City of Chicago and its suburbs.
Preckwinkle refuses to deliver any details other than guns and ammo would cost more. The reported purpose of the tax is to help plug the county’s $115 million budget gap.
Preckwinkle’s chief of staff, Kurt Summers, reportedly stated that the aim of the proposal was to curb the number of guns in circulation citing a report from last summer, which stated nearly one-third of the guns recovered on the Chicago’s streets were purchased in suburban gun shops.
Cook County Illinois is seeking to plug its $115 million budget gap by applying a “Violence Tax” on legal purchases of firearms and ammunition.

However, Summers failed to address how Cook County’s lawmakers believe this would prevent criminals (who likely did not purchase the guns legally in the first place) from committing crimes by implementing another new tax. Won’t fiscally-conscious criminals simply drive to a neighboring county—if a few extra dollars even meant that much to them? Every day, we are bombarded with stories of the Mexican’s cartels shipping drugs across the border. I mean seriously, if the gangs have the resources to move drugs thousands of miles…
When are lawmakers going to wakeup? Do they honestly believe Cook County’s criminal element will take the time to stop and think about the ramifications of committing a crime, IF the replacement gun is going to cost more? Perhaps they believe a tax on bullets will financially cripple Chicago’s gangs and thereby reduce the number of drive-by shootings?
The motives being reported are in fact half true. The lawmakers in Cook County have run its finances into the ground. As a result, it is looking to make up the difference on the back’s of law-abiding gun owners. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has conducted studies of many of the gun-control laws in place including waiting periods, registration and bans on particular firearms. The results have shown that believing gun control laws have reduced violent crime is simply a myth, so why would a tax have an effect?
I offer the following question: If a respected Federal agency such as the CDC—which has never been accused of being an advocate for the Second Amendment—can come to the conclusion that more restrictive gun laws do not reduce gun violence, what in the hell makes Cook County think a tax will?

An armed citizenry is capable of defending itself in an emergency. However, Cook County, Illinois wants to tax local merchants out of business.

Previously, I have accused Illinois lawmakers of being mentally deficient, but I did not mean it as a personal challenge to see if they could prove me right! Let’s face it. Chicago has a violence problem that it is unwilling or unable to control. However, this is little more than an attempt to fund its failed policies while simultaneously attempting to tax legitimate businesses into extinction.
This proposed law is a money grab at a minimum and more likely a backdoor attempt to again subvert the Second Amendment. In McDonald v. Chicago the Supreme Court reversed the Seventh Circuit’s decision, holding that the Second Amendment was incorporated under the Fourteenth Amendment thus protecting those rights from infringement by local governments. Losing in its effort to outlaw guns, Chicago is now attempting to tax its way into firearm suppression (not not the fun quiet type of firearms suppression).
Who does this hurt the most? Certainly not the criminals. It hurts legitimate business, law-abiding gun owners and the poor. An increased tax will make it harder for businesses to compete with retailers (wisely positioned) across the county line. Most of all, it will make it harder for the law-abiding poor to adequately defend themselves.
The 2013 spending plan that will contain this tax is set to be announced in the coming days. Now is the time to have your voice heard whether you live in Cook County or not.
Contact Board President Preckwinkle and the Cook County Board of Commissioners TODAY and demand they halt its attacks on the Second Amendment!
To sound off and let your voice be heard please contact Preckwinkle at:
Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle

118 N. Clark Street, Room 537

Chicago, IL 60602

Phone: (312) 603-6400

Fax: (312) 443-4397
To contact other board members click here.

If you dont mind going through it, this could be a useful site
12-Year-Old Girl Shoots Intruder During Home Invasion In Bryan County

BRYAN COUNTY, Oklahoma - A 12-year-old girl took matters into her own hands during a home invasion in southeast Oklahoma.
It happened on Wednesday when the girl was home alone. She told police a stranger rang the doorbell, then went around to the back door and kicked it in. She called her mom, Debra St. Clair, who told her to get the family gun, hide in a closet and call 911.
That was when St. Clair dropped what she was doing and raced home.
"I drove home at a really fast pace to try to get to her, and when I got here the police were already here. And they had the suspect," she said.
During that time, the intruder made his way through the house. St. Clair's daughter told deputies the man came into the room where she was hiding and began to open up the closet door. That was when the 12 year old had to make a life-saving decision.
"And what we understand right now, he was turning the doorknob when she fired through the door," said the Bryan County Undersheriff Ken Golden.
The bullet hit the intruder, who deputies identified as 32-year-old Stacey Jones. He took off but did not get far before officers took him down.
"He was sitting down, the policemen had him apprehended at the end of the block. All I saw was some blood coming down his back. I'm not exactly sure where his injury was, but I saw some blood there," explained St. Clair.
Jones was taken to a Texas hospital by helicopter after the incident. An investigator on the case said Jones was released from the hospital Thursday and extradited to the Bryan County Jail.
The 12-year-old girl was not injured during the ordeal.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Friday 10-19-12

Does not really matter which one it is, it is a real problem and needs to get fixed.  It is not just a s simple as throwing money at it to make it go away.  The credit is always (unless they are trying shift the blame) given to person in power at the time.

Welfare spending jumps 32% during Obama’s presidency
Federal welfare spending has grown by 32 percent over the past four years, fattened by President Obama’s stimulus spending and swelled by a growing number of Americans whose recession-depleted incomes now qualify them for public assistance, according to numbers released Thursday.
Federal spending on more than 80 low-income assistance programs reached $746 billion in 2011, and state spending on those programs brought the total to $1.03 trillion, according to figures from the Congressional Research Service and the Senate Budget Committee.
That makes welfare the single biggest chunk of federal spending — topping Social Security and basic defense spending.
Sen. Jeff Sessions, the ranking Republican on the Budget Committee who requested the Congressional Research Service report, said the numbers underscore a fundamental shift in welfare, which he said has moved from being a Band-Aid and toward a more permanent crutch.
“No longer should we measure compassion by how much money the government spends but by how many people we help to rise out of poverty,” the Alabama conservative said. “Welfare assistance should be seen as temporary whenever possible, and the goal must be to help more of our fellow citizens attain gainful employment and financial independence.”

Welfare spending as measured by obligations stood at $563 billion in fiscal year 2008, but reached $746 billion in fiscal year 2011, a jump of 32 percent.

Complex story
The numbers tell a complex story of American taxpayers’ generosity in supporting a varied social safety net, including food stamps, support for low-income AIDS patients, child care payments and direct cash going from taxpayers to the poor.
By far, the biggest item on the list is Medicaid, the federal-state health care program for the poor, which at $296 billion in federal spending made up 40 percent of all low-income assistance in 2011. That total was up $82 billion from 2008.
Beyond that, the next big program is food stamps at $75 billion in 2011, or 10 percent of welfare spending. It’s nearly twice the size it was in 2008 and accounts for a staggering 20 percent of the total welfare spending increase over those four years.
Several programs to funnel cash to the poor also ranked high. Led by the earned income tax credit, supplemental security income and the additional child tax credit, direct cash aid accounts for about a fifth of all welfare.
Mr. Sessions’ staff on the Senate Budget Committee calculated that states contributed another $283 billion to low-income assistance — chiefly through Medicaid.
Richard Kogan, senior fellow at the liberal-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, said that while the dollar amounts for low-income assistance are growing, they still represent about the same slice of the budget pie when viewed over the long run. He said the costs may have spiked during the recession, but are projected to drop back to more normal levels once the economy recovers.
“In short, whatever one thinks about the merits or costs of these programs, other than Medicaid, they are contributing nothing to long-run budgetary pressures,” he said.
As for Medicaid, where major spending increases have been made, Mr. Kogan said even there it may be a savings.
“Medicaid provides health care at a noticeably cheaper price than Medicare does, and both are cheaper than the cost of private-sector health insurance,” he said. “The problem is not that the programs are badly designed — it is that the entire health care system in the U.S. is much more expensive than in any other advanced country.”
Combined with several programs also directed at health care, the category made up 46 percent of total welfare spending in 2011.
Mr. Kogan said the cash assistance figure was “a shockingly small amount of money” in the scheme of things.
“Virtually all the rest is in the form of in-kind assistance: Medicaid, SNAP, WIC, housing vouchers, Pell Grants, LIHEAP and child care vouchers; or in the form of direct services, such as community health centers, Title 1 education, foster care, school lunch and Head Start,” he said.
Rather than straight transfers, those other programs provide support for services Congress has deemed worthy of funding. SNAP is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program that used to be called food stamps; LIHEAP is the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program; WIC is the Women, Infants and Children nutrition program; and Pell Grants provide assistance for college costs.
The conservative Heritage Foundation said roughly 100 million Americans get benefits from at least one low-income assistance program each month, with the average benefit coming to around $9,000.
The think tank estimates that if welfare spending were transferred as straight cash instead, it would be five times more than needed to lift every American family above the poverty line — though many of the programs help those above the poverty line.
Mr. Sessions’ Budget Committee staff said that at current projections, the 10 biggest welfare programs will cost $8.3 trillion over the next decade.
The Congressional Research Service looked at obligations for each program as its measure of spending. It included every program that had eligibility requirements that seemed designed chiefly to benefit those with lower or limited incomes. The report looked at programs that had obligations of at least $100 million in a fiscal year, which meant some small-dollar welfare assistance wasn’t included.

Political wrangle
The report was released as President Obama and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney fight over the size and scope of government assistance.
Mr. Obama has taken heat from Republicans for a new policy that Republicans argue would remove work requirements from the 1996 welfare reform. The administration said it is merely adding more flexibility for states, which still would have to prove the law is meeting its jobs goals.
Mr. Romney was damaged last month by caught-on-camera remarks in which he said 47 percent of Americans are dependent on government and see themselves as victims.
In Tuesday’s debate, Mr. Romney blasted Mr. Obama for overseeing a 50 percent increase in the number of people on food stamps, which has risen from 32 million to 47 million.
But the two men also share some agreement on safety-net programs. In the debate, Mr. Romney said he wants to increase the Pell Grant program to help low-income students pay for college.

This is additional info to the ablove post, to help put some prosective on it.

Report: Welfare government’s single largest budget item in FY 2011 at approx. $1.03 trillion

The government spent approximately $1.03 trillion on 83 means-tested federal welfare programs in fiscal year 2011 alone — a price tag that makes welfare that year the government’s largest expenditure, according to new data released by the Republican side of the Senate Budget Committee.
The total sum taxpayers spent on federal welfare programs was derived from a new Congressional Research Service (CRS) report on federal welfare spending — which topped out at $745.84 billion for fiscal year 2011 — combined with an analysis from the Republican Senate Budget Committee staff of state spending on federal welfare programs (based on “The Oxford Handbook of State and Local Government Finance”), which reached $282.7 billion in fiscal year 2011.


Our fifth columnist is back in the news, maybe our President will have the courage to call him a terrorist now, why has this man not been tried and executed by now?  How many witnesses?

Accused Ft. Hood shooter should shave beard, appeals court rules,0,4304611.story?track=rss

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Thursday 10-18-12

Blinding flash of the obvious, or someone speaking the truth finally (or at least part of it).

Wasteful spending of your tax dollars: Martian menus, the “non-profit” NFL, and a $132 million do-nothing Congress

Spinners and Winners Think Congress does not have much to show for itself this year? Think again. A new report from Senator Tom Coburn's office highlights dozens of examples of government waste in 2012. Included for the first time on this list: Congress. The very people looking into government waste find they themselves are wasteful. Coburn's report estimates $132 million of taxpayers' money was wasted on "the most unproductive and unpopular Congress in modern history."
"The waste is unbelievable," says Coburn. "We're bankrupt, this country is bankrupt, and people just don't want to admit it."
Loopholes are part of the problem. The National Football League, for example, pulled in more than $9 billion last year, yet is technically a "non-profit" organization, costing the federal government tens of millions of dollars every year in lost revenue.
"We have some of the biggest corporations in America paying no taxes whatsoever, you know something is wrong with the code," says the Republican senator.
Millions of dollars have also been spent on questionable items, like $325,000 on a squirrel robot, realistic enough to fool a rattlesnake, and developed with a National Science Foundation grant; $40,000 to produce a video game where players can virtually enjoy a pond in Massachusetts; and $516,000 to create a video game called "Prom Week," which simulates the interaction of teenagers surrounding the biggest social night in high school.
The spending approaches intergalactic proportions -- sort of. NASA has no plans for a manned mission to Mars, but is spending nearly a $1 million a year researching what kind of food astronauts could eat if they ever get there.
"What was once a great country has been mortgaged and bankrupted by the egos and ethics of career politicians," says Coburn, who adds the only way to change the system is to vote out all the incumbents.
"If you want to change the trajectory of our country, if you want to get rid of the hundreds of billions of dollars of waste every year, you have to change who is there."
For more examples of government waste, including another highly-subsidized, yet rarely-used airport, check out this week's Spinners and Winners.

If it can happen to him, it can happen to you.

NDAA critic stranded in Hawaii after turning up on no-fly list

Wade Hicks was en route to a US Navy base in Japan to see his wife when armed military guards informed him that they had other plans. Hicks, an American citizen with no criminal record, had just been put added to a federal no-fly list.

After being escorted off his plane during a routine re-fueling stop on the Pacific Island of Oahu, Hicks, 34, was left stranded in Hawaii this week. In an interview, he suggests that his opposition to a newly-created law that allows for the indefinite detention of US citizens at military prisons without charge or trial could be to blame for his mistreatment.

"I was very, very vocal about the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and I did contact my representative” about it, Hicks tells talk show host Doug Hagmann. "I do believe that this is tied in some way to my free speech and my political view."

According to Hicks, he has little reason to believe otherwise. He tells Hagmann that he formerly worked as a contractor for the US Department of Defense and has undergone extensive background checks in order to obtain an enhanced license that allows him to carry a concealed firearm. Hicks says he also holds on to a special identification card issued by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), the US Homeland Security Department sub-agency that administers pat-downs and screenings at airports across the country. An investigation carried out by Hagmann has led him to locating no criminal history for the man whatsoever.

In fact, the only “dirt” the host has managed to dig up on Hicks, he writes, is his occasionally vocal identification as an American patriot.

Hicks, says Hagmann, “appears to be a law abiding member of society.” He adds, however, that preliminary research has led him to link the man as being “an outspoken ‘patriot’” who is “openly critical of the NDAA,” a bill US President Barack Obama signed into law on December 31 despite openly acknowledging that he had “serious reservations” about provisions that allow the military to indefinitely detain anyone on mere suspicion of ties with terrorists. Hicks also tells the radio host that he is critical of the government’s handling of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and says, “I think the evidence I've seen warrants a new investigation, and I'm very vocal about it as well,"

“He is a former talk-show host of a small, local radio station known for its ‘patriotic bias.’ He is a member of ‘Patriots for America’ and the Mississippi Preparedness Project. He is openly vocal about the erosion of our rights – and it certainly looks like he has been proven correct. Is that now a crime worthy of being denied the ability to travel freely within the United States?” Hagmann writes.

The Mississippi Preparedness Project, according to the group’s official website, strives “to encourage and train others to prepare for any situation, whether it be political or disruptions in the infrastructure and civil structure of the communities in which we live and work.”

“We intend to prepare and train for all foreseeable aspects of personal preparedness including Political, Basic and Emergency Medical, Food and Water Storage, Equipment, Local, State and Nationwide Communications, Personal, Home and Community Defense,” their mission statement continues.

Hicks’ incident occurred on October 14 when a military plane Hicks had boarded to visit his wife, a lieutenant in the US Navy, stopped in Oahu to refuel. Although he had no issues with gaining admittance to the aircraft during the first leg of his trip, things went amiss in Oahu.There two heavily-armed officers entered the plane and escorted him to a small interrogation room at a military base and told him that he had showed up on the US “no-fly” list, despite having boarded a flight earlier that day in San Francisco where he had been subjected to military-sanctioned security screenings reportedly more stringent than the TSA treatment. He was hoping to visit his wife of only eight months when the mishap unraveled.

"They have given me no reason. They just basically are telling me, 'You can't fly because we said so,'" Hicks tells Hagmann this week. "They didn't know how I even left Travis Air Force Base."

"I said, 'If I could find a way off the island, I could leave'? They said, 'Yes, as long as you don't fly.”

Hicks adds that he has since met with a Navy lawyer in Hawaii who attempted to resolve the case with so far no avail. He reports that the attorney reached out to US Immigration and Customs Enforcement hoping that the incident has been the result of a case of mistaken identity, but, "They said, 'No, we have the right person that is in our database. His social security [number] matches and his birth date matches.'"

"I have no idea how long I'm going to be stranded in Hawaii or if I'm going to be able to leave out of here on an aircraft,” Hicks adds. "Try to get back from Oahu . . . It's a long swim and it's a long boat ride.”