Six States Refuse The REAL ID Bill

This is a landmark case in, well, common sense. Fortunately, the federal government cannot force the state governments to comply. Unfortunately, it CAN bar any resident without a REAL ID from boarding a plane. The states fighting for people’s rights are Maine, Montana, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Washington, but not my home state California. I’ve was thinking for a long time about moving out of the country, but recently changed my mind, deciding on New Hampshire, because of the recent decisions in the state government friendly to my political ideology. I also realize that this is an old story, but I hadn’t heard about it, and I suspect others haven’t as well, due to the hush-hush nature of the content. Anyway, the story is here, and is reprinted below for your convenience.

WASHINGTON — Six state legislatures are defying a federal law requiring new driver’s licenses that aim to prevent identity theft, fraud and terrorism.

The states have passed laws in the past two months, saying the federal law has a steep cost and invades privacy by requiring 240 million Americans to get highly secure licenses by 2013. The 9/11 Commission urged the first standards for licenses to stop fraud and terrorists such as the Sept. 11 hijackers, who lied on residency statements to get licenses and state IDs.

Lawmakers in Maine, Montana, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Washington say new standards would be expensive to implement and result in a national ID card that compromises privacy. The National Conference of State Legislatures estimates that it will cost states more than $11 billion.

State resistance has drawn criticism from the Homeland Security Department. “I cannot imagine a state official anywhere that would want to have to testify before Congress about … how their non-compliant licenses contributed to a terrorist attack,” department spokesman Russ Knocke said.

Knocke said the federal government can’t force states to comply. But he said each state’s residents are likely to bring pressure on their local governments when they learn they’ll be barred from boarding airplanes because their state’s licenses don’t meet federal standards.

Airline passengers can use other government photo identification, such as passports and military IDs.

Some lawmakers say any inconvenience is outweighed by the cost and potential privacy invasion for each state to create a photo database of license holders.

“The people of New Hampshire are adamantly opposed to any kind of ‘papers-please’ society reminiscent of Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia,” said Neal Kurk, a Republican state representative from New Hampshire. “This is another effort of the federal government to keep track of all its citizens.”

The federal law requires everyone to renew licenses by 2013 with documents showing their Social Security number and home address, and that they are in the USA legally. State Sen. Larry Martin, a Republican from South Carolina, said the law will overwhelm states by requiring agencies to verify documents such as birth certificates.

The defiance by six states could force Congress to reconsider the law, said Barry Steinhardt of the American Civil Liberties Union. “You can’t have a national ID card if the residents of six states won’t have one,” Steinhardt said.

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The US Is An “Endemic Surveillance Society”

According to Privacy International, the United States has dropped from Extensive to Endemic, now tied with China, Russia, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Taiwan, and the UK(with the UK being more-or-less the worst in the free world). But never fear! We are still number one in a few things. They are:
* Legal protections
* Privacy enforcement
* Use of identity cards and biometrics
* Visual surveillance
* Communications interception
* Workplace monitoring
* Medical, financial and movement surveillance
* Border and trans-border issues

By number one I, of course, mean we are the worst. Go America!

US Claims Right To Kidnap Foriegners

London Times – AMERICA has told Britain that it can “kidnap” British citizens if they are wanted for crimes in the United States.

A senior lawyer for the American government has told the Court of Appeal in London that kidnapping foreign citizens is permissible under American law because the US Supreme Court has sanctioned it.

The admission will alarm the British business community after the case of the so-called NatWest Three, bankers who were extradited to America on fraud charges. More than a dozen other British executives, including senior managers at British Airways and BAE Systems, are under investigation by the US authorities and could face criminal charges in America.

Until now it was commonly assumed that US law permitted kidnapping only in the “extraordinary rendition” of terrorist suspects.

The American government has for the first time made it clear in a British court that the law applies to anyone, British or otherwise, suspected of a crime by Washington.

Legal experts confirmed this weekend that America viewed extradition as just one way of getting foreign suspects back to face trial. Rendition, or kidnapping, dates back to 19th-century bounty hunting and Washington believes it is still legitimate.

The US government’s view emerged during a hearing involving Stanley Tollman, a former director of Chelsea football club and a friend of Baroness Thatcher, and his wife Beatrice.

The Tollmans, who control the Red Carnation hotel group and are resident in London, are wanted in America for bank fraud and tax evasion. They have been fighting extradition through the British courts.

During a hearing last month Lord Justice Moses, one of the Court of Appeal judges, asked Alun Jones QC, representing the US government, about its treatment of Gavin, Tollman’s nephew. Gavin Tollman was the subject of an attempted abduction during a visit to Canada in 2005.

Jones replied that it was acceptable under American law to kidnap people if they were wanted for offenses in America. “The United States does have a view about procuring people to its own shores which is not shared,” he said.

He said that if a person was kidnapped by the US authorities in another country and was brought back to face charges in America, no US court could rule that the abduction was illegal and free him: “If you kidnap a person outside the United States and you bring him there, the court has no jurisdiction to refuse – it goes back to bounty hunting days in the 1860s.”

Mr Justice Ouseley, a second judge, challenged Jones to be “honest about [his] position”.

Jones replied: “That is United States law.”

He cited the case of Humberto Alvarez Machain, a suspect who was abducted by the US government at his medical office in Guadalajara, Mexico, in 1990. He was flown by Drug Enforcement Administration agents to Texas for criminal prosecution.

Although there was an extradition treaty in place between America and Mexico at the time – as there currently is between the United States and Britain – the Supreme Court ruled in 1992 that the Mexican had no legal remedy because of his abduction.

In 2005, Gavin Tollman, the head of Trafalgar Tours, a holiday company, had arrived in Toronto by plane when he was arrested by Canadian immigration authorities.

An American prosecutor, who had tried and failed to extradite him from Britain, persuaded Canadian officials to detain him. He wanted the Canadians to drive Tollman to the border to be handed over. Tollman was escorted in handcuffs from the aircraft in Toronto, taken to prison and held for 10 days.

A Canadian judge ordered his release, ruling that the US Justice Department had set a “sinister trap” and wrongly bypassed extradition rules. Tollman returned to Britain.

Legal sources said that under traditional American justice, rendition meant capturing wanted people abroad and bringing them to the United States. The term “extraordinary rendition” was coined in the 1990s for the kidnapping of terror suspects from one foreign country to another for interrogation.

There was concern this weekend from Patrick Mercer, the Tory MP, who said: “The very idea of kidnapping is repugnant to us and we must handle these cases with extreme caution and a thorough understanding of the implications in American law.”

Shami Chakrabarti, director of the human rights group Liberty, said: “This law may date back to bounty hunting days, but they should sort it out if they claim to be a civilized nation.”

The US Justice Department declined to comment.

Chavez Loses His Amendment

CNN – Venezuelans, by the slimmest of margins, rejected a constitutional referendum that would have allowed President Hugo Chavez to seek re-election indefinitely and tightened socialism’s grip on the oil-rich Latin American nation.

By 51 percent to 49 percent, voters shot down a referendum that included 69 proposed amendments to the 1999 constitution, according to Monday reports from the National Electoral Council. In all, 9 million of Venezuela’s 16 million eligible voters went to the polls.

“Don’t feel sad. Don’t feel burdened,” Chavez told supporters after the results were announced.

In Washington, the White House applauded the vote.

“We congratulate the people of Venezuela on their vote and their continued desire to live in freedom and democracy,” said National Security Council spokesman Gordon Johndroe.

Thousands of Venezuelans gathered in the streets of Caracas, many of them university students who worked to defeat the measure, and burst into singing their country’s national anthem upon hearing the news.

One of the more controversial proposed amendments would have abolished term limits, allowing the firebrand Chavez to hold office indefinitely as long as he is re-elected.

The 53-year-old Venezuelan president was voted into power in 1998 and has twice been re-elected by large margins. The present law prohibits Chavez from seeking re-election when his term ends in 2012.

Another amendment on the ballot would have pushed the country more toward socialism. The leftist Chavez has said he should have full authority over the autonomous Central Bank as well as the nation’s economic policy. These measures, Chavez has said, are necessary to move the economy toward socialism.

Since winning a second six-year term in December, Chavez has promised to push forward with his particular brand of socialism and his “Bolivarian Revolution.”

Chavez has used skyrocketing oil revenues, which reportedly account for about 90 percent of the nation’s export earnings, to garner support in the country’s poorer neighborhoods.

In Venezuela, the poor receive free health care and education, much like in Cuba, which is under the rule of Chavez’s friend and mentor, President Fidel Castro.

In the last year, Chavez has nationalized oil, telephone and power companies and refused to renew the broadcast license for RCTV, an opposition television station that had been broadcasting for 53 years. The Venezuelan government later threatened to investigate broadcasters it said were inciting the public to violence over the decision.

On Friday, Chavez threatened to take independent Venezuelan network Globovision off the air if it broadcast partial results of the Sunday referendum.

Chavez, a former paratrooper, also routinely lambastes the United States, which has had thin diplomatic but close economic ties with Venezuela. The United States is Venezuela’s top oil customer, buying about 1 million barrels a day, and is one of the few countries that can refine its low-quality crude.

Despite Sunday’s defeat, Chavez — in what he called a talk “from my heart” — thanked those who opposed his proposals and said the election results proved Venezuelan democracy was maturing, a sentiment echoed by Tibisay Lucena, president of the National Electoral Council.

Earlier in Caracas, Chavez — clad in his trademark red shirt and cradling his grandson — made the sign of the cross when he voted, then took his paper ballot and placed it in a box. “For me, it’s a very happy day,” he said.

He dipped his right pinkie in ink, collected his paper receipt from the voting machine and then gave an uncharacteristically short talk with the news media.

“Let’s wait for the results tonight,” he told reporters. “We’ll accept them, whatever they may be.”

Florida Man Dies After Tasered Twice

Source – Fox News

LAKE CITY, Fla. — A man died Thursday after deputies stunned him with a Taser after he jumped from an ambulance, authorities said.

A friend of Ashley Ryan Stephens called 911 to request an ambulance, saying her friend was a drug user and was sick. A deputy was sent along with the ambulance crew, which is standard procedure if drugs are involved, said Columbia County Sheriff Bill Gootee.

Once inside the ambulance, Stephens became agitated and combative and kicked out an ambulance window. When the ambulance stopped, Stephens jumped out and ran into the street. He was nearly hit by several cars, Gootee said.

Stephens was stunned twice and handcuffed. He was pronounced dead at the hospital.

An autopsy is scheduled for Friday.

A Moment of Clarity

After searching forever through this morass we in America call news, I stumble upon things that separate seem inconclusive, but when pieced together with a dozen other incidents with the same headline, make me tired. They make me question why I choose to do this, why I choose to try and wake people up. It is a simple fact that most people in America are sheep. It is a simple fact that is more than likely true in most places of the world. As a member of the iGeneration, it brings me real pain to see the blank faces of my peers when I tell a friend what happened the day before, or the sighs and groans when I bring something up in my American Government class(a required class for seniors in my district). I personally know of no one in my entire school who really cares. To be clear, I do know a few who keep more or less in touch, however they seem to not really understand the global consequences of each individual atrocity.

I’ve heard it quoted that people in their youth ought to be radicals, and try to change the world. I look around and see nothing. Eyes devoid of any emotion at all at every statement. Then, the ultimate slap in the face. They go on to talk to friends about the party last weekend.

I wonder if it is like this everywhere. Is it just here in the land of excess and sunshine, or is it spread out, like a cancer through the liver and lungs? I tend to find out eventually, however, at the moment, I lack resources to do so.

Throughout our once-great nation minds are tuned into television and mind-numbing advertising. I believe mass media is the reason for this mass uncaring. I’ve seen two different methods used together to create this travesty. First, they pummel a young, malleable mind into the ground with images of violence, murders, and car accidents to create a ‘shit happens’ outlook to the world. Then, they placate, by only showing pleasant things, such as celebrities, reality shows, and advertising. However, we as humans know that nothing is without conflict, so, in order to keep us silent, they continue to occasionally through strife into the mix, such as elimination rounds and terrorism.

Without sounding to sappy, I am almost crying now. You can read whatever you like into it, whether a patriotic ‘for his country’s plight’ or a more cynical outlook, it matters not. All that matters is trying to help other people see the truth and getting them to care. I not nearly as interested in how this belief system changes, but merely the fact that it changes at all.

UN Declares Taser Form of Torture

I’ll post it here in its entirety, but I thought it was WAY to good to pass up. Unfortunately, it won’t change anything on the situation in America, but its good to know anyway.

“The use of these weapons causes acute pain, constituting a form of torture,” the UN’s Committee against Torture said.

“In certain cases, they can even cause death, as has been shown by reliable studies and recent real-life events,” the committee of 10 experts said.

Three men, all in their early 20s, were reported to have died in the United States this week, days after a Polish man died at Vancouver airport after being Tasered by Canadian police.

The man, Robert Dziekanski, 40, fell to the ground and died after the police officers piled on top of him.

There have been three deaths in Canada after the use of Tasers over the past five weeks.

The company that makes the weapons has said that similar deaths have been shown by “medical science and forensic analysis” to be “attributable to other factors and not the low-energy electrical discharge of the Taser”.

The UN committee made its comments in recommendations to Portugal, which has bought the newest Taser X26 stun gun for use by police.

Portugal “should consider giving up the use of the Taser X26,” as its use can have a grave physical and mental impact on those targeted, which violates the UN’s Convention against Torture, the experts said.

Not a very long article, but at least its entertaining. Will the United States and our cohorts north and south listen?

I doubt it.