A Philadelphia couple and an activist lawyer have filed the first class action lawsuit against Verizon Communications and the federal government over the National Security Agency’s collection of millions of Verizon customers’ phone records.
The class action lawsuit, filed in federal court in D.C., names President Obama, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, the director of the NSA and the CEO of Verizon as defendants. Also being sued is the NSA, the U.S. Department of Justice, and Judge Roger Vinson of the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court – who signed the secret order directing Verizon to turn over all phone records “on an ongoing daily basis.”
The plaintiffs are calling the domestic spy operation an “outrageous breach of privacy” and a violation of Verizon users’ “reasonable expectation of privacy, free speech and association, right to be free of unreasonable searches and seizures, and due process rights,” according to the complaint.
The class action lawsuit was originally spearheaded solely by Larry Klayman, founder of Freedom Watch and a vocal critic of the Obama Administration. Philadelphia couple Charles and Mary Anne Strange joined the case on Sunday.
Their son Michael, a U.S. Navy SEAL, was killed along with other 21 other SEAL Team 6 members and 6 National Guardsmen when their helicopter was shot down by terrorist Taliban jihadists in Afghanistan in 2011. They claim in the class action lawsuit that their phone records were accessed and their phones tapped after they became vocal in their criticism of President Obama and the U.S. military regarding the circumstances of their son’s death.
“Somebody has to be held accountable for my son’s death. Thirty brave Americans, the biggest loss in the Afghan war. And that’s when I started asking questions, that’s when my phone got tapped,” Mr. Strange said in an interview.
Strange claims he heard tapping noises on his phone and started receiving odd texts shortly after his son’s death. When he called Verizon to inquire “who’s this?” he claims he was told “it’s somebody listening in from the United States, and someone from Afghanistan.”
The class action lawsuit challenges the legality of the NSA’s “secret and illegal government scheme to intercept and analyze vast quantities of domestic telephone communications.”
“They weren’t going after individual terrorists, they were going after the entire American public,” Klayman told reporters.
Klayman and the Stranges are seeking to represent a nationwide class of all American citizens in the United States and overseas who are current subscribers or customers of Verizon at any time, including but not limited to April 25, 2013 to July 19, 2013.
They are seeking a cease-and-desist order to prohibit the collection of Verizon customers’ phone records and more than $3 billion in damages and attorney fees.
- Philadelphia Couple Join Class-Action Lawsuit Against NSA’s Verizon Spying (philadelphia.cbslocal.com)
- Obama, 9 PRISM Partners Targeted by Class-Action Lawsuit… Developing… (usnews.com)
- Nine Companies Tied to PRISM, Obama Will Be Smacked With Class-Action Lawsuit Wednesday (usnews.com)
- Former DOJ Prosecutor Files $3 Billion Suit Against Obama, Holder, NSA, Verizon Over PRISMGate (silverdoctors.com)
- Nine Companies Tied to PRISM, Obama Will Be Smacked With Class-Action Lawsuit Wednesday (thedestructionist.wordpress.com)
- 17. Nine Companies Tied to PRISM, Obama Will Be Smacked With Class-Action Lawsuit Wednesday (12160.info)
- Idaho Woman Sues Obama, Holder, Hagel And NSA Over Surveillance (secretsofthefed.com)
- Lawsuit filed over NSA phone spying program (networkworld.com)
- Nine Companies Tied to PRISM, Obama Will Be Smacked With Class-Action Lawsuit Wednesday (12160.info)
- Geneva Co. BP Class Action Lawsuit (wtvy.com)
. . . the document is the first demonstration that the current US administration is collecting, indiscriminately and in bulk, communications records of millions of US citizens, whether or not they’re suspected of wrongdoing.
“Nobody is listening to your telephone calls,” President Obama said on Friday, defending a broad government surveillance program that was leaked to the press in the preceding week.
Obama defended the program, code-named “PRISM,” at an event on the West coast that was initially supposed to be devoted to the health care law.
According to the New York Times, the president sought to reassure the public that the information collected from nine of the biggest internet companies about phone calls and internet traffic helps to prevent terrorist attacks and is controlled by rigorous judicial and Congressional oversight.
News about the secret surveillance program was broken on Wednesday by the Guardian, which revealed that the National Security Agency (NSA) is collecting telephone records of millions of Verizon’s US customers under a top-secret order issued on April 25 by the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA) to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
The order, obtained by the Guardian, directs Verizon to hand over information on all telephone calls in its systems, both within the US and between the US and other countries, on an “ongoing, daily basis.”
The court order contains a gag provision that prohibits Verizon from disclosing to the public either the FBI’s request for customer records or the court order itself.
It covers a nearly three-month period ending July 19 (although Senator Dianne Feinstein on Thursday said that the order has been renewed every three months for the last seven years) and requires the numbers of both parties on a call to be handed over, as well as location data, call duration, unique identifiers, and the time of all calls.
- Viewpoints: NSA is snooping on a scope unimagined (sacbee.com)
- Gallagher: NSA’s PRISM program makes phone surveillance seem like child’s play (newsday.com)
- Denials in surveillance program require decoding (news.yahoo.com)
- NSA, FBI get data from nine Internet giants in secret program (thestar.com)
- Privacy vs. Protection: NSA PRISM Program by the Numbers (richardbaris.wordpress.com)
- Tech firms deny involvement in secret NSA ‘backdoor’ spying program (electronista.com)
- We are not spying on you but we are: Parts of NSA’s PRISM program declassified (sott.net)
- Intel chief misled Congress on NSA snooping? (wnd.com)
- Google, Facebook, Others Deny Giving Gov’t Broad Access To Data (sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com)
Please take a moment to remember the men and women who died defending our freedoms.
Why nice guys and Mitt Romney finish last
via Riehl World News.
It was the Benghazi attack ad the Republican National Committee created but never aired.
ABC News has obtained an ad the RNC made last fall and approved to air in the final weeks of the presidential campaign.
The ad begins with a replay of Hillary Clinton’s famous “3 a.m. phone call” commercial from the 2008 campaign and then cuts to video of the burning U.S. consulate in Benghazi Libya.Over the images of the attack–in which four Americans were killed–words appear on the screen:“The Call Came … On September 12, 2012.”
A source familiar with the creation of the ad says the RNC leadership approved the ad but it was scrapped at the last minute because of objections from the Romney campaign, which was concerned the ad would distract from Romney’s efforts to focus on the economy.
- Why nice guys and Mitt Romney finish last: The RNC Benghazi Attack Ad that Never Ran (riehlworldview.com)
- Video: The RNC Benghazi attack ad that never ran (theblaze.com)
- Report: RNC scrapped pre-election Benghazi ad; Conservatives demand to know why (twitchy.com)
- Why Didn’t Romney Run This Ad? (ncrenegade.com)
In a post earlier today, Eddie notes a Washington Post report that says Code Pinker Medea Benjamin posed as a member of the press to get in to President Obama’s counterterrorism speech this week. That just doesn’t make sense to me: What media outlet did she claim to be representing? Did she use a false name? — because any security check of “Medea Benjamin” would surely have raised red flags, what with her multiple arrests and well-documented sympathies for noted terrorist organizations.
In contrast, Benjamin claims that she was actually been invited to the event.
“I had an invitation, somebody gave me an invitation who I’m not at liberty to disclose,” Benjamin told HuffPo, calling her protest “epic” when compared to her past demonstrations. When pressed further on who may have invited her to the event, she responded: “Well, getting in that’s a state secret I’m not at liberty to divulge. But I should say that we have friends in many places that some people might not acknowledge, including within the military…”
If this is true, it explains a bit about how she was able to disrupt the president’s remarks not once, but twice before being escorted out by security. Further, the president and the audience were oddly receptive of Benjamin’s protest. ”The voice of that woman is worth listening to,” the president responded. Benjamin even admits her own surprise that no one recognized her and pulled her from the event before the president took the stage.
Despite the mixed accounts and questionable security screening procedures, Medea seems confident that she’ll be able disrupt future events with the president. ”I’ll probably get in again,” Benjamin said. ”There’s something to white privilege and it’s important to use it in a positive way… but if we get a chance to speak directly to the president, we’ll certainly do that.”
Ted Cruz: “I Don’t Trust Republicans.”
Stephen King said: “The trust of the innocent is the liar’s most useful tool.”
We are a world of liars; a Mecca to deceivers; living to eke out inches simply to get ahead. Once there–in a comfortable position–we lie even more, so that we may stay in that position. The reason we have Presidential term limits is because of this very human compulsion to lie. We have term limits because power is a strong tonic that, once taken, invigorates the user, and can compel them to do whatever it takes to stay in power.
Trust is a fool’s gambit. Well, blind trust. Proficient liars—the best of which are in the political world—use blind trust to take advantage of Americans every day. These lies pour from the mouths of Democrats and Republicans like water from the mouth of a river. These lies are never ending. As Reagan said: we must trust, but verify. We must make ourselves good students of character, so that we may see through deception, and find the honest politicians. Difficult as it may be to believe, they do truly exist.
Something I appreciate about Ted Cruz is that he is completely unafraid of offending his own Party. Not only is he articulate, but he stand on his convictions with an unwavering commitment. He gives a killer cross-examination (Dianne Feinstein) and he has a scalpel tongue, slicing apart his opponent’s arguments with surgical precision.
In the vein of offending his own Party, Cruz recently objected to his own Party forming a committee to hash out a budget. According to The Hill:
McCain said: “Isn’t it a little bizarre, this whole exercise? What we’re saying is that we don’t trust our colleagues on the other side of the Capitol.”
In response to this, Cruz said:
“The senior senator of Arizona urged senators to trust House Republicans…and frankly, I don’t trust Republicans…It’s the leaders of both parties that got us in this mess…A lot of Republicans were complicit in this spending spree.”
What Cruz said has extraordinary resonance for two reasons. One, he is exactly correct regarding Republicans being complicit in spending us to death. Two, he is unafraid of distancing himself from the Party that could very well have to support him in the 2016 Presidential race.
This lack of fear shows a maturity, and an understanding that doing what’s right isn’t about following Party lines; it’s about the truth; no matter the response. Ted Cruz represents an ideal of the Republican Party; an expectation that is often spoken of, but rarely met. Cruz is a rare brand, and we need to support him with everything we have.
In 2016, the Democrats and many Republicans will try to keep us in the dark; Cruz is the point of light toward which we can walk. Trust, but verify. So far, my trust in Cruz has been validated.
Judge Jeanine Pirro RIPS the Obama administration in another fantastic monologue..
Americans Fear Obama More Than Terrorists
Those of us who pay attention, who are not doing the zombie shuffle through life, take polling results with more than a grain of salt. But, I found the results of a couple of post-Boston bombing, small-sample polls conducted by Fox News and the Washington Post to be interesting for what they say about our perception of the federal government.
According to a pair of recent polls, for the first time since the 9/11 terrorist hijackings, Americans are more fearful their government will abuse constitutional liberties than fail to keep its citizens safe.
Even in the wake of the April 15 Boston Marathon bombing – in which a pair of Islamic radicals are accused of planting explosives that took the lives of 3 and wounded over 280 – the polls suggest Americans are hesitant to give up any further freedoms in exchange for increased “security.”
A Fox News survey polling a random national sample of 619 registered voters the day after the bombing found despite the tragic event, those interviewed responded very differently than following 9/11.
For the first time since a similar question was asked in May 2001, more Americans answered “no” to the question, “Would you be willing to give up some of your personal freedom in order to reduce the threat of terrorism?”
Of those surveyed on April 16, 2013, 45 percent answered no to the question, compared to 43 percent answering yes.
In May 2001, before 9/11, the balance was similar, with 40 percent answering no to 33 percent answering yes.
But following the terrorist attacks of 9/11, the numbers flipped dramatically, to 71 percent agreeing to sacrifice personal freedom to reduce the threat of terrorism.
He goes on to report similar findings in the Washington Post poll.
Even though both polls represent a very small sample of the American people, I am convinced by all I have seen and read that many more Americans today do indeed fear the federal government, and I believe they have very good cause to do so. Despite the despicable “mainstream” media’s desperate attempts to give cover to, and lie for, the most lawless administration in American history, plenty of us, using other information sources, are able to see through the detestable media’s putrid smokescreens.
We can see that Barack Obama (or whatever his name is) and the anti-American radicals in his administration and Congress have boundless contempt for the constitutional limits on their power. It is clear to many of us that we are watching a federal government that is systematically working to tear down this nation, its freedoms and foundations.
So, is the federal government scarier than Muslim terrorism? I say it most certainly is. While Islamic jihad is a danger to our nation, we can still stop it if our authorities are willing, but in the federal government, which is run by power-mad people, we are dealing with a nearly unstoppable entity that has the power to rain destruction on the entire nation, not just spot locations.
Further, Islamists and the communists running the federal government (Senator McCarthy was right, by the way) share the same hatred of America and its freedoms and the same hatred of Jesus Christ and His followers. How can I say that Obama and his fellow-traveling buddies in the administration and Congress hate America and its freedoms? By their actions, their inactions and their words.
In their words, these people routinely lie about their motives, about the evil goals of their legislation, about their political opposition and even the American people who oppose them, who they falsely label as “racists” or “right wing extremists.” In his words, Obama regularly trash-talks America, apologizing for what needs no apologies.
In their actions, we see their ceaseless attempts to impose a socialist form of government on our nation, in contradiction to our Constitution’s design for a representative republic. They are destroying our military in every way, including forcing it to accept open homosexuals and women in front-line combat.
We see their vile attempts to squash our God-given right to self-defense under the guise of “public safety.” We see the war they have waged on our God-given rights to freedom of religion with their hell-born “Obamacare” abortion coverage mandate and their push for sodomy “rights” and fake marriage that would subvert our freedom of religion, association and ultimately, speech.
In their inactions, we see their treasonous refusal to secure our nations borders and deport the criminal aliens among us. We see their stonewalling of investigations into their other criminal actions like the Fast and Furious Mexican gun running scandal and the Muslim murders of our Ambassador and others in Benghazi, Libya – murders aided by this administration.
These are just the tip of an America-hating iceberg of lawlessness perpetrated by these people currently in power, not that other administrations and congresses have not abused their power, but we’ve never seen anything like the current administration. There is no conclusion that I can draw other than the people running our federal government are enemies of America. Our nation has been overthrown by enemies within.
These people are on the side of the Islamists. Again, their actions show this – their support for the Muslim Brotherhood in the Middle East, and the outrageous purging of military and intelligence agencies of proper Muslim training materials at the demand of Islamist groups and Islamist “advisors” within the federal government. That says volumes about where this administration’s loyalties lie. They do everything they can to avoid even saying “Muslim terrorism.”
Since our “mainstream” media will never speak the truth about the Islamist infiltration of our nation and government, it took an Egyptian publication to report that the Obama administration has Muslim Brotherhood operatives at the highest levels.
America is in big trouble. I see the Lord’s judgment falling and the terrible storm gathering. The collective sins of our nation are coming home to roost. No nation can butcher pre-born – and even just-born – babies by the millions and not to expect awful consequences. No nation can hope to avoid God’s judgment while it embraces and even “glorifies” homosexuality and its various manifestations, along with its militant assault on the freedoms of those who oppose it.
No, we should not be surprised to see the sorry state of the soul of America when the leaders in our government, schools, entertainment industry, and institutions all across the land have spit on the Lord and have shunned His wisdom, knowledge and commands for living our lives. We now have the federal government we have earned while we slept and allowed God to be outlawed as sin was made mandatory.
We are not surprised to see that the federal government is now a monster that is scarier than the Muslim terrorists among us.
The gallery at the House Ways and Means Committee Friday had to be called to order after it burst into applause and some gave a standing ovation following an impassioned diatribe against the IRS by Pennsylvania Republican Rep. Mike Kelly.
Kelly took his time during the hearing on the IRS’s targeting of conservatives to lambaste outgoing head Steven Miller, reminding Miller that while the IRS would like to chalk the organization’s recent actions up to a mistake, regular Americans do not get that luxury when dealing with the IRS.
“If you think it’s uncomfortable sitting over there you ought to be a private individual when the IRS is across from you asking you questions,” Kelly began, and that set the tone for the subsequent four minutes.
Some of the highlights:
- “I have a grandson who’s afraid to get out of bed at night because he thinks there’s someone under the bed that’s going to grab him. And I think most Americans feel that way about the IRS.”
- “This kind of reconfirms that, you know what, they [the IRS] can do almost anything they want to anybody they want, anytime they want. This is very chilling for the American people.”
- “This is a Pandora’s Box that has been opened and I don’t think we can get the lid back on it.”
- “I don’t believe the White House just found out about this in a news report.”
- “I got to tell you, where you’re sitting, you should be outraged — and you’re not. The American people should be outraged, and they are.”
- “This reconfirms everything the American public believes! This is a huge blow to the faith and trust the American people have in their government!”
- “Is there any limit to the scope of where you folks can go?”
- “It’s sure as hell intimidating. And I don’t’ know that I got any answers from you today.”
- “I am more concerned today than I was before. The fact that you all can do just about anything you want to anybody. You know, you can put anybody out of business that you want anytime you want.”
- “And when the IRS comes in, you’re not allowed to be shoddy, you’re not allowed to be run horribly, you’re not allowed to make mistakes, you’re not allowed to do one damn thing that doesn’t come in compliance. If you do, you’re held responsible right then.”
- “This is absolutely an overreach and this is an outrage for all America!”
you can watch the impassioned speech below and watch the gallery erupt:
- The Scathing Speech That Just Got a Standing Ovation During the IRS Hearing (theblaze.com)
- The Scathing Speech That Just Got a Standing Ovation During the IRS Hearing (usapartisan.com)
- Congressman gets standing O for nailing IRS chief (wnd.com)
- Congressman Goes On Berating Rant At Ousted IRS Commissioner And Gets A Standing Ovation (businessinsider.com)
- Independents, Republicans believe IRS, Benghazi scandals deserve further investigation (theblaze.com)
- AWESOME! Rep Mike Kelly Receives Standing Ovation After Epic Rant at IRS Hearing (Video) (thegatewaypundit.com)
As the “Great Ammunition Shortage” continues, police departments across the country are struggling to supply their arsenals. One police chief turned to the community for help, and citizens stepped up.
In Proctor, Minnesota, police chief Walter Wobig says that his suppliers have told him he’ll have to wait “months” for the 1,000 rounds he’s requested.
When Wobig turned to the residents of Proctor by putting out a call for help meeting his department’s ammo needs, citizens contacted his office, eager to help.
“The citizens were like, ‘If you need something, we got plenty here,’” said Wobig.
One resident and a Proctor police officer loaned 1,500 rounds from their personal stockpile to the department.
The Chief says others offered to help too. “I had several other calls from other citizens that said, ‘Hey, if you need more ammunition we have plenty,’” said Wobig,
The Chief says that when his ammunition order is filled, he will be repaying the citizens for their contributions.
The Internal Revenue Service is now facing a class action lawsuit over allegations that it improperly accessed and stole the health records of some 10 million Americans, including medical records of all California state judges.
According to a report by Courthousenews.com, an unnamed HIPAA-covered entity in California is suing the IRS, alleging that some 60 million medical records from 10 million patients were stolen by 15 IRS agents. The personal health information seized on March 11, 2011, included psychological counseling, gynecological counseling, sexual/drug treatment and other medical treatment data.
Another Obama lie?…Ousted IRS chief claims in email that he’s leaving because ‘my acting assignment ends in early June’…
Obama fires acting IRS commissioner as pressure grows surrounding political targeting of conservative groups that sought tax-exempt status
- Steven Miller is ousted but writes face-saving email announcing departure when his ‘assignment ends in early June.’
- Obama: IRS ‘misconduct’ is ‘inexcusable and Americans are right to be angry about it, and I am angry about it.’
- Jacob Lew, Obama’s trusted Treasury Secretary and former chief of staff, gave Miller his walking papers
- IRS reportedly targeted 300 right-wing groups while letting left-wing organizations slide through with far less scrutiny
- President Barack Obama has thrown his acting IRS commissioner overboard, making Steven Miller the highest-ranking political casualty thus far in a series of scandals that have swept his administration in recent weeks.
In a hastily called press conference in the East Room of the White House, Obama told reporters that he had asked Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew to find out who was responsible for a program that targeted tea party groups and other conservative organizations for a special level of intrusive questioning after they applied for tax-exempt charitable statuses.
‘Lew took the first step by requesting and accepting the resignation of the acting director of the IRS,’ Obama said.
‘It’s important,’ he added, ‘to institute new leadership that can help restore confidence going forward.’
But in an email to IRS employees, Miller claimed he would only be leaving next month because his assignment would be over.
“Pay no attention to those voices that warn you of tyranny in government”.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2325223/Obama-fires-acting-IRS-commissioner-pressure-grows-surrounding-political-targeting-conservative-groups-sought-tax-exempt-status.html#ixzz2TQSEkWcj
When the IRS targeted an Ohio woman’s Tea Party organization and asked her to send the agency the books the group read in 2010, she sent the IRS a copy of the Constitution.
Marion Bower said that the IRS targeted her organization in 2010, and it took “nearly two years for the Internal Revenue Service to approve her request for tax-exempt status.”
“I was trying to be very cordial, but they wanted copies of unbelievable things,” she told ABC News. “They wanted to know what materials we had discussed at any of our book studies.”
She said she sent the IRS a paperback copy of the Constitution when asked the agency asked for books and other reading materials.
The 68-year-old Ohio woman founded American Patriots against Government Excess (PAGE) in 2010, and her group “consisted of volunteers who routinely passed out copies of the constitution at parades, and had informational meetings on anything from the health care law to disaster preparedness.”
“They wanted copies of our blog. They said they had already taken copies of our website. They wanted a list of all of our officers, what we do at our meeting, how our board is made up,” Bower said.
On Friday, the IRS apologized for targeting groups–like Bower’s–that had “Tea Party” or “Patriots” in their names during the 2012 elections. Subsequent reports have indicated the IRS targeted Tea Party and conservative groups since 2010.
- Tea Party Group Sent IRS Copy of Constitution When Asked for Reading Materials (breitbart.com)
- IRS Demanded Tea Party Group’s Reading List. Their Response is an Instant Classic. (pjmedia.com)
- ‘They were asking for a U-Haul truck’s worth of information’… (politico.com)
- IRS Inquiries Crossed The Line, Tea Party Groups Say (npr.org)
- Revealed: See the Letter the IRS Sent to One Local Tea Party and the Detailed Demands It Made (theblaze.com)
CONVERSE COUNTY, Wyo. (AP) — It happens about once a month here, on the barren foothills of one of America’s green-energy boomtowns: A soaring golden eagle slams into a wind farm’s spinning turbine and falls, mangled and lifeless, to the ground.
Killing these iconic birds is not just an irreplaceable loss for a vulnerable species. It’s also a federal crime, a charge that the Obama administration has used to prosecute oil companies when birds drown in their waste pits, and power companies when birds are electrocuted by their power lines.
But the administration has never fined or prosecuted a wind-energy company, even those that flout the law repeatedly. Instead, the government is shielding the industry from liability and helping keep the scope of the deaths secret.
Wind power, a pollution-free energy intended to ease global warming, is a cornerstone of President Barack Obama’s energy plan. His administration has championed a $1 billion-a-year tax break to the industry that has nearly doubled the amount of wind power in his first term.
But like the oil industry under President George W. Bush, lobbyists and executives have used their favored status to help steer U.S. energy policy.
The result is a green industry that’s allowed to do not-so-green things. It kills protected species with impunity and conceals the environmental consequences of sprawling wind farms.
More than 573,000 birds are killed by the country’s wind farms each year, including 83,000 hunting birds such as hawks, falcons and eagles, according to an estimate published in March in the peer-reviewed Wildlife Society Bulletin.
Getting precise figures is impossible because many companies aren’t required to disclose how many birds they kill. And when they do, experts say, the data can be unreliable.
When companies voluntarily report deaths, the Obama administration in many cases refuses to make the information public, saying it belongs to the energy companies or that revealing it would expose trade secrets or implicate ongoing enforcement investigations.
Nearly all the birds being killed are protected under federal environmental laws, which prosecutors have used to generate tens of millions of dollars in fines and settlements from businesses, including oil and gas companies, over the past five years.
“We are all responsible for protecting our wildlife, even the largest of corporations,” Colorado U.S. Attorney David M. Gaouette said in 2009 when announcing Exxon Mobil had pleaded guilty and would pay $600,000 for killing 85 birds in five states, including Wyoming.
The large death toll at wind farms shows how the renewable energy rush comes with its own environmental consequences, trade-offs the Obama administration is willing to make in the name of cleaner energy.
“It is the rationale that we have to get off of carbon, we have to get off of fossil fuels, that allows them to justify this,” said Tom Dougherty, a long-time environmentalist who worked for nearly 20 years for the National Wildlife Federation in the West, until his retirement in 2008. “But at what cost? In this case, the cost is too high.”
The Obama administration has refused to accept that cost when the fossil-fuel industry is to blame. The BP oil company was fined $100 million for killing and harming migratory birds during the 2010 Gulf oil spill. And PacifiCorp, which operates coal plants in Wyoming, paid more than $10.5 million in 2009 for electrocuting 232 eagles along power lines and at its substations.
But PacifiCorp also operates wind farms in the state, where at least 20 eagles have been found dead in recent years, according to corporate surveys submitted to the federal government and obtained by The Associated Press. They’ve neither been fined nor prosecuted. A spokesman for PacifiCorp, which is a subsidiary of MidAmerican Energy Holdings Co. of Des Moines, Iowa, said that’s because its turbines may not be to blame.
“What it boils down to is this: If you electrocute an eagle, that is bad, but if you chop it to pieces, that is OK,” said Tim Eicher, a former U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service enforcement agent based in Cody, who helped prosecute the PacifiCorp power line case.
By not enforcing the law, the administration provides little incentive for companies to build wind farms where there are fewer birds. And while companies already operating turbines are supposed to avoid killing birds, in reality there’s little they can do once the windmills are spinning.
Wind farms are clusters of turbines as tall as 30-story buildings, with spinning rotors as wide as a passenger jet’s wingspan. Though the blades appear to move slowly, they can reach speeds up to 170 mph at the tips, creating tornado-like vortexes.
Flying eagles behave like drivers texting on their cellphones; they don’t look up. As they scan for food, they don’t notice the industrial turbine blades until it’s too late.
The rehabilitation coordinator for the Rocky Mountain Raptor Program, Michael Tincher, said he euthanized two golden eagles found starving and near death near wind farms. Both had injuries he’d never seen before: One of their wings appeared to be twisted off.
“There is nothing in the evolution of eagles that would come near to describing a wind turbine. There has never been an opportunity to adapt to that sort of threat,” said Grainger Hunt, an eagle expert who researches the U.S. wind-power industry‘s deadliest location, a northern California area known as Altamont Pass. Wind farms built there decades ago kill more than 60 per year.
Eagle deaths have forced the Obama administration into a difficult choice between its unbridled support for wind energy and enforcing environmental laws that could slow the industry’s growth.
Former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, in an interview with the AP before his departure, denied any preferential treatment for wind. Interior Department officials said that criminal prosecution, regardless of the industry, is always a “last resort.”
“There’s still additional work to be done with eagles and other avian species, but we are working on it very hard,” Salazar said. “We will get to the right balance.”
Meanwhile, the Obama administration has proposed a rule that would give wind-energy companies potentially decades of shelter from prosecution for killing eagles. The regulation is currently under review at the White House.
The proposal, made at the urging of the wind-energy industry, would allow companies to apply for 30-year permits to kill a set number of bald or golden eagles. Previously, companies were only eligible for five-year permits.
In exchange for the longer timetable, companies agree that if they kill more eagles than allowed, the government could require them to make changes. But the administration recently said it would cap how much a company could be forced to spend on finding ways to reduce the number of eagles its facility is killing.
The Obama administration said the longer permit was needed to “facilitate responsible development of renewable energy” while “continuing to protect eagles.”
That’s because without a long-term authorization to kill eagles, investors are less likely to finance an industry that’s violating the law.
Typically, the government would be forced to study the environmental effects of such a regulation before implementing it. In this case, though, the Obama administration avoided a full review, saying the policy was nothing more than an “administrative change.”
“It’s basically guaranteeing a black box for 30 years, and they’re saying `trust us for oversight.’ This is not the path forward,” said Katie Umekubo, a renewable energy attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council and a former lawyer for the Fish and Wildlife Service. In private meetings with industry and government leaders in recent months, environmental groups have argued that the 30-year permit needed an in-depth environmental review.
The tactics have created an unexpected rift between the administration and major environmental groups favoring green energy that, until the eagle rule, had often been on the same side as the wind industry.
Those conservation groups that have been critical of the administration’s stance from the start, such as the American Bird Conservancy, have often been cut out of the behind-the-scenes discussions and struggled to obtain information on bird deaths at wind farms.
“There are no seats at the exclusive decision-making table for groups that want the wind industry to be held accountable for the birds it kills,” said Kelly Fuller, who works on wind issues for the group.
The eagle rule is not the first time the administration has made concessions for the wind-energy industry.
Last year, over objections from some of its own wildlife investigators and biologists, the Interior Department updated its guidelines and provided more cover for wind companies that violate the law.
The administration and some environmentalists say that was the only way to exact some oversight over an industry that operates almost exclusively on private land and generates no pollution, and therefore is exposed to little environmental regulation.
Under both the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, the death of a single bird without a permit is illegal.
WASHPOST: Obama’s claim he called ‘act of terrorism‘ Gives him Four Pinocchios…
Once again, it appears that we must parse a few presidential words. We went through this question at length during the 2012 election, but perhaps a refresher course is in order.
Notably, during a debate with Republican nominee Mitt Romney, President Obama said that he immediately told the American people that the killing of the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans in Libya “was an act of terror.” But now he says he called it “an act of terrorism.”
Some readers may object to this continuing focus on words, but presidential aides spend a lot of time on words. Words have consequences. Is there a difference between “act of terror” and “act of terrorism”?
Immediately after the attack, the president three times used the phrase “act of terror” in public statements:
“No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation, alter that character, or eclipse the light of the values that we stand for.”
— Obama, Rose Garden, Sept. 12
“We want to send a message all around the world — anybody who would do us harm: No act of terror will dim the light of the values that we proudly shine on the rest of the world, and no act of violence will shake the resolve of the United States of America.”
— Obama, campaign event in Las Vegas, Sept. 13
“I want people around the world to hear me: To all those who would do us harm, no act of terror will go unpunished. It will not dim the light of the values that we proudly present to the rest of the world. No act of violence shakes the resolve of the United States of America.”
— Obama, campaign event in Golden, Colo., Sept. 13
Here’s how we assessed those words back in October:
Note that in all three cases, the language is not as strong as Obama asserted in the debate. Obama declared that he said “that this was an act of terror.” But actually the president spoke in vague terms, usually wrapped in a patriotic fervor. One could presume he was speaking of the incident in Libya, but he did not affirmatively state that the American ambassador died because of an “act of terror.”
Some readers may think we are dancing on the head of pin here. The Fact Checker spent nine years as diplomatic correspondent for The Washington Post, and such nuances of phrasing are often very important. A president does not simply utter virtually the same phrase three times in two days about a major international incident without careful thought about the implications of each word.
The Fact Checker noted last week that this was an attack on what essentially was a secret CIA operation, which included rounding up weapons from the very people who may have attacked the facility.
Perhaps Obama, in his mind, thought this then was really “an act of war,” not a traditional terrorist attack, but he had not wanted to say that publicly. Or perhaps, as Republicans suggest, he did not want to spoil his campaign theme that terror groups such as al-Qaeda were on the run by conceding a terrorist attack had occurred on the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.
Whatever the reason, when given repeated opportunities to forthrightly declare this was an “act of terrorism,” the president ducked the question.
For instance, on Sept. 12, immediately after the Rose Garden statement the day after the attack, Obama sat down with Steve Kroft of 60 Minutes and acknowledged he purposely avoided the using the word “terrorism:”
KROFT: “Mr. President, this morning you went out of your way to avoid the use of the word ‘terrorism’ in connection with the Libya attack.”
KROFT: “Do you believe that this was a terrorist attack?”
OBAMA: “Well, it’s too early to know exactly how this came about, what group was involved, but obviously it was an attack on Americans. And we are going to be working with the Libyan government to make sure that we bring these folks to justice, one way or the other.”
Obamacare: Taxpayers Must Report Personal Health ID Info to IRS
The new form will require disclosure of a taxpayer’s personal identifying health information in order to determine compliance with the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate.
So why will the Obama IRS require your personal identifying health information?
Simply put, there is no way for the IRS to enforce Obamacare’s individual mandate without such an invasive reporting scheme. Every January, health insurance companies across America will send out tax documents to each insured individual. This tax document—a copy of which will be furnished to the IRS—must contain sufficient information for taxpayers to prove that they purchased qualifying health insurance under Obamacare.
This new tax information document must, at a minimum, contain: the name and health insurance identification number of the taxpayer; the name and tax identification number of the health insurance company; the number of months the taxpayer was covered by this insurance plan; and whether or not the plan was purchased in one of Obamacare’s “exchanges.”
This will involve millions of new tax documents landing in mailboxes across America every January, along with the usual raft of W-2s, 1099s, and 1098s. At tax time, the 140 million families who file a tax return will have to get acquainted with a brand new tax filing form. Six million of these families will end up paying Obamacare’s individual mandate non-compliance tax penalty.
As a service to the public, Americans for Tax Reform has released a projected version of this tax form to help families and tax specialists prepare for this additional filing requirement. Taxpayers may view the projected IRS form at www.ObamacareTaxForm.com. On the form, lines 3-4 show where taxpayers will disclose their personal health ID information.
View PDF here.
Quiet tornado season forecast to last into next week, at least.
The USA in the past 12 months has seen the fewest number of tornadoes since at least 1954, and the death tolls from the dangerous storms have dropped dramatically since 2011.
Just two years after a ferocious series of tornado outbreaks killed hundreds of Americans, the USA so far this year is enjoying one of the calmest years on record for twisters. Through Thursday, tornadoes have killed only three Americans in 2013; by the end of May 2011, 543 Americans had died.
The seven people killed from May 2012 to April 2013 is the fewest in a 12-month period since five people died in September 1899-August 1900, according to Harold Brooks, research meteorologist with the National Severe Storms Laboratory in Norman, Okla.
The year-to-date count of tornadoes is probably approaching the lower 10% of all years on record, said Greg Carbin, warning coordination meteorologist with the Storm Prediction Center in Norman.
The reason: An unusually cool weather pattern from the Rockies to the East Coast. “Generally, the lower the temperature and/or the drier the air, the lower the number of thunderstorms,” said AccuWeather meteorologist Alex Sosnowski.
Severe thunderstorms produce tornadoes, along with large hail and high winds.
So far in May — usually the USA’s most active month — only three tornadoes have formed. All have been rated EF-0 on the Fujita scale of tornado intensity. EF-0 is the weakest rating for tornadoes, with wind speeds of about 65-85 mph.
The EF-5 tornado that ravaged Joplin, Mo., two years ago, had estimated wind speeds as high as 250 mph and killed 158 people.
The record low in tornadoes comes less than two years after a record high from 2010 to 2011, Weather Underground meteorologist Jeff Masters said. “The extraordinary contrast underscores the crazy fluctuations we’ve seen in Northern Hemisphere jet stream patterns during the past three years,” he said. “Call it ‘weather whiplash’ of the tornado variety.”
Current weather patterns are expected to continue into the first part of summer, likely keeping 2013 well behind the curve for violent thunderstorms and tornadoes, AccuWeather reports.
*******Women Skipping Yoga Studio for Gun Range *******
The gun market for women is exploding, with increasing numbers purchasing guns, getting concealed carry permits, and attending in-depth self-defense handgun courses around the country.
Women of all walks of life–”moms, consultants, bankers, co-eds”–have found that having a gun close at hand is the surest way to be able to protect one’s self and one’s family.
Moms and daughters are taking gun classes together, as are female coworkers and room mates. To do so, they are passing on stereotypical outings–”shopping” or “yoga”–for time at the gun range.
Tracy Maalouf, a female physician’s assistant taking a handgun self-defense course, described the process of familiarizing herself with guns as “overcoming something.” She said the thing that women overcome is “fear.”
Maalouf said women are not typically associated with guns but that women need to “get to that point where [they're] not afraid of the gun.”