Friday, May 31, 2013

Friday 05-31-13

Court upholds rifle sales reporting requirement

WASHINGTON (AP) — A federal appeals court panel Friday unanimously upheld an Obama administration requirement that dealers in southwestern border states report when customers buy multiple high-powered rifles.
The firearms industry trade group, the National Shooting Sports Foundation, and two Arizona gun sellers had argued that the administration overstepped its legal authority in the 2011 regulation, which applies to gun sellers in California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas.
The requirement, issued in what is known as a demand letter, compels those sellers to report to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives when anyone buys — within a five-day period — two or more semi-automatic weapons capable of accepting a detachable magazine and with a caliber greater than .22. The ATF says the requirement is needed to help stop the flow of guns to Mexican drug cartels.
Judge Karen LeCraft Henderson, writing for the three-judge appeals panel, said the agency was within its legal authority when it issued the demand letter. She said that that the Gun Control Act of 1968 "unambiguously authorizes the demand letter." Henderson, who was appointed by Republican President George H.W. Bush, was joined by Judges Judith W. Rogers, an appointee of Democratic President Bill Clinton, and Harry T. Edwards, an appointee of Democratic President Jimmy Carter.
Congress annually passes legislation banning the ATF from establishing a national firearms registry, but Henderson rejected arguments from the challengers that the requirement unlawfully created one.
Because ATF sent the demand letter to only 7 percent of federally licensed gun dealers and required information on only a small number of transactions, "the July 2011 demand letter does not come close to creating a 'national firearms registry'," she wrote.
The National Shooting Sports Foundation had argued that even if the ATF had the legal authority to issue the requirement, its decision to impose it on every retailer in the border states was arbitrary and capricious. In its appeal brief, the group wrote, "There is no rational law enforcement connection between the problem ATF sought to address — illegal firearms trafficking from the United States to Mexico — and merely conducting a lawful retail firearms business from premises located in one of the border states."
But the panel dismissed this challenge as well. Henderson wrote that an agency has "wide discretion" in making line-drawing decisions, and that the problem ATF sought to address is most severe in Arizona, California, New Mexico and Texas.
The National Shooting Sports Foundation did not immediately return email and phone messages. An attorney for the two Arizona gun dealers that had challenged the requirement, J&G Sales, Ltd., of Prescott, Ariz., and Foothills Firearms, LLC, of Yuma, Ariz., also did not immediately return email and phone messages.

California lawmakers OK a dozen gun-control measures

The bills come in response to recent attacks. Senators also vote to strip nonprofits such as the Boy Scouts of America of their tax-exempt status for discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation.

SACRAMENTO — California lawmakers Wednesday advanced a dozen gun-control measures, including background checks for ammunition buyers, and gave early approval to a tax penalty on the Boy Scouts for barring openly gay leaders.
Legislators also voted for a new $75 charge on real estate transactions to pay for affordable-housing projects.
Mass shootings such as the one in Newtown, Conn., in December spurred Democratic lawmakers to look for ways to tighten California's gun laws, already some of the toughest in the nation.
"We all can recite the horrific acts that have occurred in our country over the last year," said Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento). "These bills attempt to respond to those well-publicized tragedies and many more that go unpublicized."
Californians who want to buy ammunition would have to submit personal information and a $50 fee for a background check by the state, under a bill passed by the Senate. The state Department of Justice would determine whether buyers have a criminal record, severe mental illness or a restraining order that would disqualify them from owning guns.
Ammo shops would check the name on buyers' driver's licenses against a state list of qualified purchasers.
The goal of the bill is "to ensure that criminals and other dangerous individuals cannot purchase ammunition in the state of California," said Sen. Kevin De Leon (D-Los Angeles), author of SB 53.
The vote was 22-14, with a few Democrats joining the Republican minority in opposition.
Sen. Jim Nielsen (R-Gerber) said, "We are criminalizing legal, historic behavior in the state of California and putting onerous burdens and regulations and requirements on law-abiding citizens."
The Senate also OK'd a bill that would outlaw the sale, purchase and manufacture in California of semiautomatic rifles that can accommodate detachable magazines. The measure, SB 374 by Steinberg, also would require those who own such weapons to register them with the state.
The Assembly joined the action on guns by passing a measure to require the state Department of Justice to notify local law enforcement agencies when someone buys more than 3,000 rounds of ammunition. The bill would also ban kits that convert magazines to carry more than 10 rounds and would extend a ban on gun ownership for anyone who conveys a serious threat of violence to a licensed psychotherapist.
Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley), who authored the bill, AB 48, said mass shooters often "have a mental health history."
The legislation approved in the Assembly on Wednesday now goes to the Senate and vice versa.
Senators on Wednesday voted to strip tax-exempt status from nonprofit groups, including the Boy Scouts of America, that deny participation based on sexual orientation or religion.
Sen. Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) said he was glad the Boy Scouts' national council recently decided to allow openly gay minors to serve as scouts. But he said it was unacceptable that the organization did not also lift its ban on gays serving as adult leaders.
"We've given the Boy Scouts ample time to solve their discrimination problem, and they have chosen a path that still leads to discrimination," Lara told his colleagues.
Some Republicans voted against the bill, SB 323, which would eliminate nonprofit youth groups' exemption from state sales, use and corporate taxes if the organizations discriminate based on sexual orientation.
Boy Scouts spokesman Deron Smith said the organization remains committed to serving the 180,000 scouts in California.
"Today, more than ever, youth need the character and leadership programs of scouting," he said in an email after the vote. "We are disappointed with anything that impacts our ability to serve more youth."
Republicans also opposed a bill that would impose the $75 charge on the recording of many real estate documents. Sen. Mark DeSaulnier (D-Concord) said his bill, SB 391, would raise up to $720 million annually to replace money lost for affordable housing when redevelopment projects were disbanded.
Sen. Joel Anderson (R-San Diego) voted against it, saying the bill would hurt the working-class people it is intended to help.
Other bills approved in one house Wednesday would:
• Allow those who may be in the country illegally to obtain a California driver's license if they can provide documents to establish their identity and residency in the state.
Require the state to develop restrictions on an oil production technique called hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.
• Shift $600 million in bond authority from a little-used home loan service for military veterans to other programs that could help provide them with affordable housing and counseling services.,0,3573485.story

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Saturday 05-25-13

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Saturday 05-25-13

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Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Tuesday 5-21-13

Makes me want to puke, and ...   

Accused Fort Hood Shooter Paid $278,000 While Awaiting Trial

Injured soldier outraged suspected shooter receives salary while his family financially struggles in recovery

The Department of Defense confirms to NBC 5 Investigates that accused Fort Hood shooter Major Nidal Hasan has been paid more than $278,000 since the Nov. 5, 2009 shooting that left 13 dead 32 injured.
Scott Friedman, NBC 5 Investigates
The Department of Defense confirms to NBC 5 Investigates that accused Fort Hood shooter Major Nidal Hasan has been paid more than $278,000 since the Nov. 5, 2009 shooting that left 13 dead 32 injured.
Dramatic Photos: The Fort Hood Tragedy
The Department of Defense confirms to NBC 5 Investigates that accused Fort Hood shooter Major Nidal Hasan has now been paid more than $278,000 since the Nov. 5, 2009 shooting that left 13 dead 32 injured. The Army said under the Military Code of Justice, Hasan’s salary cannot be suspended unless he is proven guilty.
If Hasan had been a civilian defense department employee, NBC 5 Investigates has learned, the Army could have suspended his pay after just seven days.
Personnel rules for most civilian government workers allow for "indefinite suspensions" in cases "when the agency has reasonable cause to believe that the employee has committed a crime for which a sentence of imprisonment may be imposed."
Meanwhile, more than three years later soldiers wounded in the mass shooting are fighting to receive the same pay and medical benefits given to those wounded in combat.
Retired Army Spc. Logan Burnett, a reservist who, in 2009, was soon to be deployed to Iraq, was shot three times when a gunman opened fire inside the Army Deployment Center.
“I honestly thought I was going to die in that building,” said Burnett. “Just blood everywhere and then the thought of -- that's my blood everywhere.”
Burnett nearly died. He's had more than a dozen surgeries since the shooting, and says post-traumatic stress still keeps him up at night.
Burnett is now fighting a new battle; only this one is against the U.S. Army.
The Army has not classified the wounds of the Ft. Hood victims as “combat related” and declines to label the shooting a “terrorist attack”,
The “combat related” designation is an important one, for without it Burnett and other shooting victims are not given combat-related pay, they are not eligible for Purple Heart retirement or medical benefits given to other soldiers wounded either at war or during the Sept. 11, 2001 attack on the Pentagon.
As a result, Burnett, his wife Torey, and the families of other Fort Hood victims miss out on thousands of dollars of potential benefits and pay every year.
To Burnett the shooting felt like combat.
“You take three rounds and lose five good friends and watch seven other people get killed in front of you. Do you have another term that we can classify that as?” asked Burnett.
The Army has categorized the shooting as a case of “workplace violence.”
“Sickens me. Absolutely sickens me. Workplace violence? I don't even know if I have the words to say,” said Burnett.
"They don't need to be treated like this. They don't need to sit and fight every day for this benefit or that,” said Torey Burnett.
As that fight continues, Burnett was stunned to see a letter detailing the more $278,000 Hasan has been paid since his arrest. NBC 5 Investigates received the letter from the Department of Defense in response to a request under the Freedom of Information Act.
"There have been times when my wife and I cannot afford groceries. We cannot afford gas in our car,” Burnett said. “Literally, times where we ate Ramen noodles for weeks on end. This [that Hasan is still earning a paycheck] makes me sick to my stomach,” said Burnett.
Burnett isn’t alone in his outrage.
“We're giving the defendant in this case every benefit of the doubt. But yet we're not giving the benefits to the victims,” said Rep. Thomas Rooney (R) Florida
Rooney, a former prosecutor at Fort Hood, recently signed a bi-partisan letter urging defense secretary Chuck Hagel to "...reclassify the victims' deaths and injuries as 'combat related'..."
The letter said the current situation has "...resulted in an embarrassing lack of care and treatment for the victims and their families."
“What happened here is not a case of workplace violence. What happened here was an attack on our military by a terrorist element specifically targeting our military, which just so happened to be in the United States of America,” said Rooney.
Reports from the Federal Bureau of Investigation showed Hasan was communicating with a member of Al Qaida prior to the shooting. Additionally, the government’s National Counterterrorism Center lists the shooting at Fort Hood as a “high fatality terrorist attack.”
Rooney said he's also willing to consider whether Congress should change the rules, so the Army could suspend the pay of soldiers arrested for crimes against fellow soldiers.
NBC 5 Investigates wanted to ask Pentagon officials about Hasan's pay and the decision to classify the shooting as workplace violence, but the Army turned down requests for an interview. However, the Army's Chief of Media Relations told NBC 5 Investigates: "The Department of Defense is committed to the integrity of the ongoing court martial proceedings of Major Nidal Hasan and for that reason will not further characterize, at this time, the incident that occurred at Fort Hood on Nov. 5, 2009.”
Burnett, who recently retired from the Army and moved to Arkansas to live with family and save some money, has joined dozens of other Fort Hood victims in a lawsuit against the Army demanding the benefits they believe they've been unfairly denied.
“I refuse to continue letting Nidal Hasan win. And I leave the "Major" part out, because even though, unfortunately, he's still being paid better than I am, he doesn't deserve that rank,” said Burnett.
A lawyer who once represented Hasan previously claimed his client couldn’t find a bank that would deposit his Army paychecks, but a spokesman at Fort Hood told NBC 5 Investigates that that issue has since been resolved; meaning Hasan or his family can access the money.
The Army could get some money back from Hasan by demanding re-payment for the cost of treating the wounds he sustained when a police officer shot him during the incident. However, military officials would not tell NBC 5 Investigates if they plan to do that.
With the trial expected to begin this summer, Hasan’s lawyer declined to comment on this story.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Wednesday 05-15-13

Something to think about
If once a man indulges himself in murder, very soon he comes to think little of robbing; and from robbing he comes next to drinking and Sabbath-breaking, and from that to incivility and procrastination. Once begun upon this downward path, you never know where you are to stop. Many a man has dated his ruin from some murder or other that perhaps he thought little of at the time.
Thomas De Quincy  (1800's)
What is going on, I seems familiar ring, sounds a lot like Waco

Military Style Raid Leads To Homes Being Leveled In 24 Hours
Not far from the shadows of Charlotte's Uptown towers, a group of more than 50 heavily armed men swarmed a cluster of three small homes on North Pine Street late Friday afternoon.

By one witness account, a number of dark colored vans and black SUV's closed in on the homes from several different direction. Within seconds dozens of men wearing olive drab jumpsuits with no visible identification stormed into the three homes in a simultaneous attack.

Witnesses reported hearing automatic gun fire and loud explosions often associated with "flash bang" grenades.

2115 North Pine Street in 2011 Photo via Google Maps
During the raid the area was blocked off by unmarked police cars and the para-military style operation was over in less than an hour. At no time were any CMPD marked units visible, nor was Charlotte Fire or Medic involved.

Unmarked Car Blocking West 24th Street Friday May 3, 2013 Photo Credit: Agent X
It is interesting to note that the 4:45 p.m. raid took place without the normal local media gaggle, or Chief Rodney Monroe press conference, or post operation press release.
Then 24 hours later, two of the three homes that were targeted where leveled and the debris and contents hauled away, with not a trace remaining.

On Monday morning, only muddy Carolina red clay where the homes once stood remained along with a small Bobcat and a Komatsu (excavator) Track-Hoe.

2115 North Pine Street Monday May 6, 2013 Photo Credit: Agent X

2119 North Pine Street Monday May 6, 2013 Photo Credit: Agent X

This afternoon a lone unmarked car with blacked out windows stood guard in the area.
Unrelated side note: Mecklenburg County Sheriff's Office has a request before the Mecklenburg County Commissioners tomorrow night, to purchase $130,000.00 worth of tactical body armor.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Saturday 05-11-13

Forget Gold: Only Food, Tools and Resourcefulness Will Matter In a Mad Max Scenario
When we talk about Mad Max scenarios, we are talking about events where the world as we know it no longer exists. No banks, no credit cards, no grocery stores, no gas stations, and a landscape devoid of law & order. It’s an outlier to be sure, but one that has been experienced by millions of people throughout history.
Worst case scenarios do happen. And when they do, the activities associated with the regular flow of commerce as we understand them today cease completely. Historically, this has happened more often than not as a result of economic calamity stemming from states that take on massive amounts of debt, with the end result being widespread war and total economic destruction. Should such events come to pass in our modern era, everything we believe to be valuable today will be redefined, and only those assets of real worth will maintain their trading power.
The dominant objects of value during a socio-economic collapse are those goods that can be used immediately for the purposes of survival or barter. Doesn’t gold survive a Mad Max event? Historically, the answer to that is no. Dark Ages seem to be the total collapse of all economic activity on a collective basis. This is why there are huge gaps in the monetary history in Greece, Western Europe after the fall of Rome, and even in Japan. The duration is rather consistent – 600 years.
The Mad Max outcome is the swing back to barter where the dominant object of value first becomes food, then tools (bronze), and only after all that becomes stable, we see the return to luxury which is when gold and silver come back. You cannot eat them. They are valuable only based upon the demand of others. If they want food, sorry even gold goes off the map during such periods. It is typically grain or in the case of Japan bags of rice.
We cannot stress enough that these kinds of events, where civilization has regressed to what essentially amounts to hunting and gathering, has happened repeatedly and on a cyclical basis on numerous occasions over the last 5000 years. It will happen again. This is inevitable.
We are on the very cusp of such a frightening outcome right now. Perhaps we can avoid the same outcome as Rome, a collapse which led to hundreds of years of war and impoverishment during the Dark Ages. But the reality is that we are well on our way to repeating their mistakes.
Our country has taken on so much debt that it will require the labor of generations in order to pay it back, something that is very rapidly becoming improbable. Half of the households in the United States are dependent on monthly government distributions just to make ends meet. Those who are paying the taxes to cover these expenses are either losing their jobs or experiencing wage reductions, putting further strain on the system as a whole. Trillions of dollars in wealth are being transferred from the poor and working class into the hands of banking cartels, the military industrial complex, and elite members of the global oligarchy.
Confidence by the masses may well be lost in short order. We’re seeing pockets of this all over the world. It’s like a viral contagion. First it starts on a small scale, and then spreads uncontrollably to all corners of the globe.
Gold, while it is certainly a store of value, will often take a backseat in the midst of collapse simply because food, shelter and safety will be the only concerns that matter. This isn’t to say you should not own gold and silver to use as a mechanism of exchange, just that you need to understand  its viability as a barter tool based on the crisis at hand. Just as it was a thousand years ago during the period following the breakup of Rome, in Argentina today farmers are hoarding  grain while their currency and country’s economy collapses.
Food is a dominant asset. Tools, whether they be firearms or plows, become dominant assets in a world where you have to depend on yourself or a small community to survive. Your resourcefulness, such as an ability to put a roof over your head, grow your own food, purify water or preserve your food for winter, will be dominant assets.
It may take a decade or it may happen overnight. But one thing’s for sure: a pan-global collapse is coming. And when it does, make sure you are in possession of the dominant objects of value. Failure to understand history and prepare for the future will mean certain doom for millions. But Mad Max scenarios are survivable for those with the wherewithal to prepare.

Hispanic Custodians On Auraria Campus Claim Discrimination

DENVER (CBS4)- A group of Hispanic custodians at the Auraria Campus in downtown Denver are claiming they are victims of discrimination.
They’ve filed a complaint against the campus operator that could be reviewed by a federal judge.
What started out as a miscommunication over a schedule change for employees working the graveyard shift has become a full investigation by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Ribota said she was injured at work because she couldn’t read a warning sign that was in English.
“If I could speak English I wouldn’t have the problems that exist,” said Ribota.
Last week 12 custodians from the Auraria Campus filed an EEOC complaint against the Auraria Higher Education Center, which is the organization that maintains the campus for Metro State University of Denver, the Community College of Denver and the University of Colorado Denver.
“What is sort of a neutral business practice, that they speak English on campus and it’s an English-only campus has a discriminatory impact on this group of workers,” said attorney Tim Markham.
The complaint accused the campus of purposely leaving employees that only speak Spanish in the dark on the terms and conditions of their employment, changes in their working status, safety and more.
When asked if it was a problem those employees were not being informed of those things in their native language, campus spokesman Blaine Nickeson replied, “I don’t know if that’s a problem. I think it’s one of the concerns. I will go on to say there’s not a statute to translate".
Campus operators said there is no state law requiring complete translations. It is standard at other universities in Colorado.
The Auraria Campus believes employees should understand some basic English.
“It’s not our goal to provide every document translated or every conversation translated. Our employees are expected to interact with members of the public and that interaction we expect them to be able to understand English,” said Nickeson.
The EEOC could take several weeks to review the case. If they find actual damages the Department of Justice would get involved.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Friday 05-10-13

Storing Nickels

April 3, 2013
(Copyright 2012
Are you doing due diligence with nickels? As many LRC readers know, nickels are the only real “money” being distributed by the U.S. Government at this point in time. The value of the metal in a nickel equals the fiat value assigned to it by the state. This cannot be said about the currently produced pennies, dimes, quarters, or half dollars and certainly cannot be said about the paper money or the even more insidious and plentiful computer digit money that we are forced to use. Nickels are uniformly marked, impractical to counterfeit, and easily recognizable for their metallic content (75% copper, 25% nickel).
So, is it really that easy to get real money in exchange for the worthless stuff floating around? Yes, it still is. You walk into a bank, hand the teller a 20-dollar bill, and walk out with 10 rolls of nickels. There is no dealer markup. There is no sales tax. There are no shipping fees. There is no capital gains tax or value added tax. It almost seems impossible in this day and age. It soon will be impossible. We are temporarily in an era with nickels that is analogous to the pre-1965 silver coinage period. Coin composition is slated to change during the 2013 fiscal year. So, what are the issues that would preclude a person from taking advantage of the inevitable increase in the value of nickels when compared to the fiat dollar? Well, there is one small issue and one slightly bigger issue. The small issue is obtaining the nickels and the bigger issue is storage. Both issues can be resolved fairly easily for most people. First, let’s look at the smaller issue.
You don’t want to shoot yourself in the foot when obtaining nickels; not to mention your fellow hard-money brethren who are doing the same thing. Don’t go into a bank and make a grandiose gesture by asking to speak to the branch manager and discussing the bulk acquisition of $1000 or $10,000 worth of nickels. I have read articles where people proudly describe the incredulous looks they get from the bank employees and the follow-up questions administered by the bank staff from such an action. These articles usually include a description of how they schooled the bank employees about how the customer was hoarding nickels as a hedge against inflation. Don’t have this conversation with the bank. You don’t want to be the source of new bank policy restricting the acquisition of coinage. Some banks may charge a percentage for obtaining coins but, most still don’t. With nickels it is still so easy.
You need to have a systematic outlook. What you do is always lay down a 20 dollar bill and ask for 20 dollars in nickels. No more. That’s all. Make this fit into your lunch break at work, your commute, your exercise routine, or your shopping routine. You can go to one, two, or three banks fairly quickly. Don’t get the coins using your debit card or a check. Keep it to a simple hand-to-hand cash transaction. You don’t want multiple computer entries showing up on your bank account at different bank branches 10 minutes apart. It looks like you are doing something. Banks look for patterns and they will ask more questions. You aren’t doing anything wrong but, once again, you don’t want to make waves. You want to be able to continue getting your nickels. Giving out $20 in coins is no big deal to a major bank but, retailers that get coinage regularly usually do have to pay extra for the privilege. Small account holders and even non-account holders are usually given “small” amounts of pre-rolled coinage in exchange for paper currency as a courtesy at no charge. You want to be in the small customer “courtesy” realm on this issue. Being in a slightly bigger town is a plus but, not essential. If you happen to be on a lengthier shopping trip or road trip, you can get $20 worth of nickels ten times fairly quickly at ten different banks. Remember, you don’t want to be responsible for the issuance of new restrictive policies within your local banking world. Banks talk to each other. They go to conferences. If only a few guys in a town of a million people are trying to get large quantities of nickels on each transaction, the word will get out and policies will change.
You won’t believe how quickly you acquire nickels at this rate. You quickly get in and out of the bank since you are not doing account-related transactions. You get 400 nickels each time you hand over a 20-dollar bill. The transaction usually takes less than a minute. If you do this twice every day on your lunch break, you will have nickels coming out of your ears. Don’t try to do it at a quicker rate. You will end up causing problems.
The second issue, which is really the point of this article, is the storage of your nickels. One of the first rules for obtaining and storing metal as a hedge against inflation is to take possession of the metal yourself and to not trust someone else to store it for you. A warehouse receipt can be next to worthless in a hyperinflationary environment and is subject to the same type of mishandling that has been seen in metal futures, ETFs, and other paper forms of metal. Nickels do present a challenge for storage but, the challenge is not insurmountable.
Green military style ammo cans are a very tempting solution. They have one serious drawback. They look valuable. That wall of ammo cans in your basement really looks like a stash of something worth stealing. The larger size (generically called .50 caliber ammo cans) are too heavy when filled with nickels. The smaller size is easier to handle. They weigh about 35 pounds when filled. They hold about 88 rolls. Each roll contains $2 face value of nickels. So, you are preserving about $176 face value of nickels in one ammo can. To get up into multiple thousands of dollars, you will have quite a wall of ammo cans. They get harder and harder to conceal. They won’t fit in a floor safe or that hollow brick like your gold coins do.
So, what’s the answer? After years of experimenting, I have found the perfect solution. Home Depot sells pre-cut 24-inch sections of thick walled 4-inch black ABS pipe. They also sell the 4 inch ABS end caps and ABS cement. This combination makes a perfect long-term burial solution. The ABS cement causes a reaction to occur that is the chemical equivalent of welding the plastic end caps on by chemically softening, melting, and then permanently binding the adjoining surfaces of the two plastic pipe fittings together. PVC pipe also works. The nickels will last for decades in pristine condition underground when stored in these pipes.
I had an occasion to dig up 10 pipes recently containing a total of 560 pounds of nickels that had been buried for three years. The store bar-code stickers hadn’t even come off the pipes yet. The pipes with the caps glued on with the ABS cement still looked brand new. Each of these pipes holds 122 rolls of nickels on average. The pipes weigh about 56 pounds when finished. I have found that drilling a tiny hole with a small drill bit aids with pushing on the final cap since the glue makes the caps airtight and the air pressure makes it hard to push the second cap on. The air relief hole allows the cap to slide on easily before the cement binds the parts together permanently. The small hole can then be filled with ABS cement to make the pipe watertight. To get the nickels out, you will have to cut the pipe open with a saw.
After preparing multiple pipes, dig a trench. It will look like you are installing a water line or a sewage pipe. The 24″ X 4″ inch black pipes look like sections of sewer line. You can rent a trencher to make the process quicker and to reduce prying eyes. I have found that even sensitive metal detectors cannot detect the pipes when they are more than 12 inches deep. To be on the safe side, you can make your trench 18 to 24 inches deep. Even if they are buried less deep, they have the metal detector signature of a buried water pipe and won’t look like an attractive target to unearth.
I will address one more point since I hear this all the time. How do you cash in the nickels for the metal value? You don’t in the short run. This is not a buy and turn over proposition. You don’t have to worry about the legalities of melting coins. People don’t have to melt down pre-1965 silver coins to get the metal value. There will always be a market for the actual metal value in the coin. You don’t have to melt down gold coinage to get the metal value. Some day, when the effects of massive inflation are more evident, you will have your hedge against inflation and you will be able to sell your coins for their metallic value as you need to. In the case of nickels, they won’t have to be assayed. They are marked and it is obvious what they are. Their metallic content is common knowledge. There is no down side with nickels. If nothing else, you have gotten your money out of computer digits and you are holding it in tangible form for the coming banking crisis. It just so happens that you got full value for yours in incorruptible metal form with a picture of one of the less offensive presidents stamped on the side.

Internet tax bill targets all digital downloads

The U.S. Senate is set to vote Monday on a tax bill that would levy new fees on people who download digital products including movies, music, apps, and even WordPress themes.

This 2012 chart, compiled by the Download Fairness Coalition, shows which states tax currently tax e-books, music, movies, software, and other digital downloads. In California, New York, Illinois, Massachusetts and other green states, those digital downloads are tax-free -- for now.
This chart, compiled by the Download Fairness Coalition, shows which states in 2012 taxed e-books, music, movies, software, and other digital downloads. In California, New York, Illinois, Massachusetts and other green states, those digital downloads are tax-free -- for now.
(Credit: Download Fairness Coalition)

Update: The Senate late today passed the bill, sending it to the House.
The U.S. Senate is planning to vote Monday to levy new taxes on mobile app developers, cloud computing services, music and movie downloads, and even people selling collections of WordPress themes.
Senators who are backing the legislation known as S.743 describe it as a way to force out-of-state retailers to collect taxes on physical shipments. Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., claims his bill will "put local and Main Street retailers on a level playing field with their out-of-state and online counterparts."
What Enzi and his Democratic allies don't like to mention is how the fine print of the bill -- expected to be approved in a vote scheduled for late Monday afternoon -- also imposes a new tax regime aimed at companies producing downloadable software or Web services.
"If I'm making an app and I'm distributing the app for $3, then I've got to collect 18 to 25 cents in sales tax," says Steve DelBianco, executive director of NetChoice, which counts eBay, Facebook, Yahoo, and LivingSocial as members. "The cost of collecting that exceeds the revenue you're actually sending to the state."
In an unusual twist, companies in the tech centers of California, New York, Maryland, Massachusetts, and Illinois, will be the hardest-hit if S.743, also known as the Marketplace Fairness Act, is enacted.
That's because those states treat digital goods as non-taxable, meaning startups, individuals, or companies with offices only in those states don't need to worry about collecting sales tax. But if S.743 becomes law, any business of a reasonable size selling digital goods to the 24 states that have decided to tax them must collect sales taxes and comply with audits from up to 600 taxing jurisdictions.
The prospect of a federal law imposing new burdens on Silicon Valley startups that aren't currently required to collect taxes under California state law irks taxpayer advocates.
Americans for Tax Reform sent a pointed letter to Enzi's office saying: "In terms of digital goods, like apps and music, who is responsible for remitting the sales tax: the vendor, an app store or sales platform, or the creator of the digital good?"
A spokesman for Enzi, whose home state of Wyoming does tax digital goods, did not respond to queries from CNET on Monday.
Pete Sepp, executive vice president at the National Taxpayers Union, says the decision by S.743's authors to levy digital taxes "only fuels growing suspicion among taxpayers that the legislation has little to do with 'simplification' and lots more to do with grabbing additional cash for governments."
Monday's Senate vote on S.743 caps years of lobbying by the National Retail Federation and the Retail Industry Leaders Association, which represent big box stores including including Walmart, Target, AutoZone, Best Buy, Home Depot, OfficeMax, Macy's, and the Container Store. President Barack Obama also supports the bill, his spokesman said last month.
Opposing them is a coalition called True Simplification of Taxation, which includes the American Catalog Mailers Association, the Direct Marketing Association, NetChoice, and the Electronic Retailing Association. Conservative groups have largely opposed the bill, and eBay CEO John Donahoe has rallied his sellers against S.743, saying: "This legislation treats you and big multi-billion dollar online retailers -- such as Amazon -- exactly the same... Those fighting for this change refuse to acknowledge that the burden on businesses like yours is far greater than for a big national retailer."
"At the end of the day, each state will decide for themselves what is or is not taxable," says Jason Brewer, vice president of communications for the Retail Industry Leaders Association, referring to digital downloads. "This bill doesn't push a state in either direction -- it leaves that decision to governors and state legislators that are accountable to the voters."
Senate Majority Whip Richard Durbin (D-IL) (left) touts S.743 during a press conference on Capitol Hill last month. Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY) is second from the left.
Senate Majority Whip Richard Durbin (D-IL) (left) touts S.743 during a press conference on Capitol Hill last month. Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY) is second from the left.
(Credit: Getty Images)
The "iTunes Tax" dates back to 2006
A national push toward taxing digital downloads started in 2006, which CNET documented in a special report.
At that time, only 15 states and the District of Columbia taxed downloads of music, movies, e-books and other digital goods. By 2008, the number had climbed to 17 states. As of last year, that number has grown to 24 states, though not all tax all types of digital goods the same way.
"Six years ago, when the trend started to take shape, it was an effort to impose taxes on movies, music, books," says Stephen Kranz, a partner at McDermott Will & Emery who follows this issue. "Over the last few years, the state legislative proposals have gotten broader and broader. Now some states are looking at taxing the whole digital world."
In some cases, tax collectors have creatively reinterpreted their state law to levy digital download fees without the legislature acting. One example: Washington state law taxed computer software, which tax officials then interpreted to include music, movies and e-books, part of a trend that alarmed (PDF) a committee of the bipartisan National Conference of State Legislatures.
S.743 does include an exception for business that make under $1 million a year in revenue. But many small businesses can exceed that, and companies and individual sellers would be subject to audits by dozens of states. Businesses would also have to figure out how to handle the complexity of integrating as many as 46 state government-supplied software packages into Web ordering systems, as well as complying with rules specified by American Samoa, the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and nearly 600 U.S. government-recognized Indian tribes.
It's unclear what fate S.743 will face in the House of Representatives. Last year, a House committee approved Texas Republican Rep. Lamar Smith's H.R. 1860, a bill that took the opposite approach by limiting the taxation of digital downloads. But that measure never received a floor vote.
The current legal and political landscape was shaped by a 1992 case called Quill v. North Dakota, in which the U.S. Supreme Court ruled: "Congress is now free to decide whether, when, and to what extent the states may burden interstate mail order concerns with a duty to collect use taxes."
Under the Quill ruling, out-of-state retailers generally don't have to collect taxes. One exception to that rule is a legal concept called "nexus," which means a company can be forced to collect sales taxes if it has a sufficient business presence. That's why wasn't required to collect sales taxes in California until recently, and why Apple -- with physical stores or offices in many states -- has long collected tax on nearly all sales.
NetChoice's DelBianco says that if S.743 becomes law, states that aren't home to many companies offering digital downloads will have a strong incentive to tax them -- an easy way to boost state revenues without encountering local opposition.
"You've made it all but irresistable for states to tax more and more goods and services," he says.


Thursday, May 9, 2013

05-09-13 Thursday

Not really a new idea, but in the news again

Nordstrom Using Smart Phones To Track Customers Movements
DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Nordstrom says it wants to serve you better, so it’s tracking your movements through their stores. The CBS 11 I-Team has learned the retailer is using software to track how much time you spend in specific departments within the store. The technology is being used in 17 Nordstrom and Nordstrom Rack stores nationwide, including the NorthPark store in Dallas.
A company spokesperson says sensors within the store collect information from customer smart phones as they attempt to connect to Wi-Fi service. The sensors can monitor which departments you visit and how much time you spend there. However, the sensors do not follow your phone from department to department, nor can they identify any personal information tied to the phone’s owner, says spokesperson Tara Darrow.
“This is literally measuring a signal. You are not connected to the signal,” says Darrow.
The store calls the information “anonymous aggregate reports that give us a better sense of customer foot traffic” and will ultimately be used to increase the shopping experience for Nordstrom customers. Darrow says the company could use the information to increase staffing during certain high-traffic times or change the layout of a department.
While Nordstrom has been collecting the information since October, the company has not implemented any changes based on the information it has collected. The store has posted a sign at its NorthPark entrance to alert customers and advise them they can opt out by turning off their phones.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Wednesday 05-08-13

I guess nothing the government does surprises me anymore.

Inhofe: Obama administration trying to ‘dry up’ ammo supply
On Aaron Klein’s weekend show on New York City’s WABC radio, Oklahoma Republican Sen. James Inhofe accused the Obama administration of buying up ammunition at an unprecedented level to bypass the Second Amendment so gun-owners “can’t even buy ammunition because government is purchasing so much.”
“Let’s make sure that your audience out there is aware, Aaron, that our president, Obama, has been doing everything he could to stop the private ownership of guns in America,” Inhofe said. “You know that, everyone knows that. And yet he’s been voted down in a big way by a large majority. And so my feeling is that he’s doing this to buy up [ammunition] so that we can’t buy: Honest, law-abiding citizens here in the United States, like my son, can’t even buy ammunition because government is purchasing so much.”
Inhofe explained to Klein he is working to introduce the Ammunition Management for More Obtainability (AMMO) bill that will limit “non-defense, armed federal agencies to pre-Obama levels of ammunition.”
“It’s designed to have the GAO (that’s the Government Accounting Office) inventory — not the Defense Department, but all other departments that use weaponry — as to what they’re doing in terms of the amount of ammunition that they have bought to dry up the market for honest, law-abiding citizens,” Inhofe said.
The Oklahoma Republican called the buy-ups intentional and referred to testimony last month from Nick Nayak, the Department of Homeland Security’s chief procurement officer, who said DHS has the right to buy up the ammunition.
“I believe it’s intentional,” Inhofe said. “Now we had someone testify the other day the DHS, the Department of Homeland Security, has the ‘right’ — this is a bureaucrat that said this — they have the ‘right’ to buy as much as they want, and they’re planning to buy 750 million rounds. Well, that is more than three times the amount that our soldiers are using for training to defend our nation. So, it’s just another effort to restrict gun activity and ownership. We have in this country the Second Amendment, that preserves the right to keep and bear arms, and the president doesn’t believe in that.”
Inhofe was skeptical of theory that the ammo buy-up was an effort by DHS to seize power from the state, as some have suggested, but did say it was unprecedented and shouldn’t be allowed.
“This has never happened in this country before,” he added. “We’ve never had government trying to take that much control at the expense of the law-abiding citizens. And we’re not going to let it happen.”

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Tuesday 05-07-13

An interesting observation


What Should States Do When the Federal Government Usurps Power? Advice From James Madison, Father Of The US Constitution

1. What can a State – or several States – do to resist encroachments & usurpations by the federal government?
2.  Federalist No. 46  (7th para) discusses how individual States or several States carry out resistance to the federal government’s unconstitutional encroachments. If a particular State takes an action which the federal government doesn’t like, but which has the support of the People of that State, the federal government can’t do anything about it unless it is willing to use force.
When several States oppose an unconstitutional encroachment by the federal government, Madison says they have powerful means of opposition:  the disquietude of the people, their repugnance (e.g., baby-killing enshrined into public policy), the Peoples’ refusal to co-operate with the officers of the federal government; the opposition of the State officials; and all those legislative devices State Legislatures can invent to thwart & impede the federal government in its unconstitutional schemes.
So, in para 7, Madison contemplates that not all States will oppose unconstitutional encroachments by the federal government. But he shows that this need not impede the States who do.  Such States need not implement in their States the federal government’s lawless usurpations.  Have we forgotten how to just say, “NO! You have no authority under the Constitution to do this, and the Sovereign State of X and the Sovereign People of the State of X won’t permit this.”  If we have taken the Oath to support the Constitution (Art. VI, clause 3), then we are bound by Honor
to support it!

3.  Note that Madison doesn’t say the States should file lawsuits in federal court. And WHY would Sovereign States, which formed a federation for the limited purposes enumerated in Art. I, Sec. 8, U.S. Constitution; ask one branch of the federal government (judiciary) to opine on whether a “law” approved by the two other branches (legislative & executive) exceeds the enumerated powers of Congress or encroaches on the reserved powers of the States and the People (10th Amendment)?  All three branches of the federal government have been unified against The Constitution, the States, and the People for a very long time!  Why do States put themselves in the position of supplicants to a Court which has already shown itself to be contemptuous of the Constitution, and of the States’ and The Peoples’ reserved powers?
Furthermore, the Supreme Court is not even the ultimate authority on the meaning of the Constitution!  Alexander Hamilton said federal judges may be impeached & removed for usurpations (Federalist No. 81, 8th para); the People are “the natural guardians of the Constitution” as against federal judges “embarked in a conspiracy with the legislature”; and the People are to become “enlightened enough to distinguish between a legal exercise and an illegal usurpation of authority.”(Federalist No.16, 10th para).
4.  In para 8, Madison discusses a “general alarm” among the States as to encroachments by the federal government. Here, Madison contemplates concerted “plans of resistance” among the States; and Madison says it may come to a “trial of force” if a crazed federal government doesn’t back down. In para 10, Madison says that the federal government’s “schemes of usurpation will be easily defeated by the State governments, who will be supported by the people”.
5.  In para 9, Madison discusses the federal government’s initiation of a “trial of force”.   But who would fight for the federal government?  Madison spoke of the regular Army as the force used by the federal government.  But that has been the Army of our children and neighbors’ children!  [We need not fear them unless we permit aliens to serve in our armed forces.]   The federal government does have, here & there, those heroic, noble, and brave men who shoot nursing mothers in the forehead, young boys in the back, and gas & apparently incinerate men, women & children. How many are they?  Then there is Obama’s personal “civilian national security force”.  Has it been established?  Even so, would they be honorable men, or another collection of thugs?  In any event, Madison said, “…it would not be going too far to say, that the State governments, with the people on their side, would be able to repel the danger.”
6. When we quote James Madison and The Federalist Papers on what States may do when the federal government has encroached upon the powers reserved by the States and the People; we quote a high Authority on The Constitution. James Madison is the Father of the Constitution,  and the author of many of the Federalist Papers.   States act lawfully when they follow such guidance of James Madison. When the federal government descends into lawlessness & tyranny, The States and The People may protect and preserve their Constitution – as they are already

to do.
7. Yes, the ultimate authority resides in The People.  But this does not mean that The People should – or need to – initiate a show of force.  Remember the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King!  He put on his clerical collar and went out into the streets with others to protest State LAWS which enforced segregation.  They used non-violent civil disobedience:  Black people sat down at “white’s only” lunch counters!  Black people sat in the front of the buses.  They did not initiate force.  The moral superiority of their position could not be denied, and they won.
8.  We have Our sacred Constitution.  The most important concepts for you to learn are these:  (1) ENUMERATED POWERS (2) Why neither the “GENERAL WELFARE“, the INTERSTATE COMMERCE nor the “NECESSARY & PROPER” [see linked paper at para 13] clauses authorize Congress (or the President or the FEDERAL COURTS ) to exceed their enumerated powers (3) The true meaning of the “RULE OF LAW” and how that differs from the “Rule of Men”; (4) What is “FEDERALISM“, and (5) The origin of our Rights and why you must NEVER speak of  “constitutional” rights. My papers on RIGHTS explain the moral superiority of our position. You must learn why our position is morally superior to that of the statists. And you must be prepared to explain it at all times.
May God be merciful and grant us national repentance and a peaceful political resolution.