Alan Keyes wants Americans to embrace “synoptic thinking.” Synoptic means “seeing apparently distinct things or events as they relate to one another to form, on the whole, a coherent plan, pattern or design.” So he lists a bunch of points that he labels “data” and tries to draw a connection. I’m sure you’ll be shocked at the connections he draws.
Data: Obama issues orders to allow open homosexuality in the military.
Nope. False. Obama did not issue an order to do this, Congress passed a law that did this.
Data: An anti-Christian extremist, who decries Christian military personnel who share their faith as “enemies of the Constitution,” “virulently homophobic” and “human monsters,” meets Obama-appointed Pentagon officials. The Pentagon thereafter issues “a statement confirming that soldiers could be prosecuted for promoting their faith.”
Also false and debunked repeatedly.
Data: U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., says he believes open purchase orders from the Department of Homeland Security to buy over 1 billion rounds of ammunition are part of an “intentional” effort by the Obama administration to “dry up the market” for gun-owning citizens.
Data: Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin believes the federal government is “stockpiling bullets in case of civil unrest.”
Keyes looked up the definition of synoptic; he clearly needs to look up data too. These are not “data” they are idiotic conspiracy theories that have been disproved even by the NRA, for crying out loud.
Two people seen in a photo with suspected Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev in New York’s famed Times Square are being held by authorities on administrative immigration violations, Fox News has confirmed.
The two men were identified to Fox News as Dias Kadyrbayev and Azamat Tazhayakov, both citizens of Kazakhstan. They can be seen standing next to Tsarnaev in a photo believed to have been taken in April 2012 in Times Square, which authorities suspect was another of the bombers’ intended targets.
Kadyrbayev and Tazhayakov were arrested April 20 — five days after the attack at the marathon — at the Hidden Brook apartments by the FBI and Homeland Security in New Bedford Mass., and they are being detained by Immigrations and Customs Enforcement at the Suffolk County House of Corrections in Boston because of problems relating to their student visas, sources told Fox News.
By making his wild allegations, Beck was asking listeners to ignore the fact that law enforcement officials had previously, and repeatedly, denied earlier right-wing media claims that the Saudi student had been taken into “custody,” or was in any way responsible for the blast.
Indeed, officials at Immigrations and Customs Enforcement and the Department of Homeland Security both soundly denied the story, explaining that there were two different Saudi nationals: one recovering in a Boston hospital who had witnessed and been injured in the explosions but was not a suspect, and another in ICE custody who was unrelated to the bombing investigation. Beck responded by calling for President Obama to be impeached for what he considered the sprawling government cover-up that now surrounded the student, Saudi Arabia and Al Qaeda.
So yeah, it was that kind of week for the right-wing media. It was a debacle.
In the same week that Pulitzer prizes were announced honoring the finest in American journalism, many in the far-right media worked to set news standards in mindless, awful behavior in the wake of the Boston attack.
Faced with covering the most important American terror news story in a decade, too many players opted to just make stuff up. Prompting witch hunts, they cast innocents as would-be killers and then couldn’t be bothered with apologies.
It was a memorable week in which the conservative media’s highest profile newspaper, Rupert Murdoch’s New York Post, seemed committed to getting as many stories wrong about the Boston attack as possible.
It started right on schedule early Saturday morning. The second guessing and the criticism over the choices made by local, state, and federal law enforcement Friday morning regarding the pursuit of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. Should the city of Boston and many of its western suburbs have been locked down for the entirety of a working day?
The carping is taking two forms, the first emerging from the conspiracy wings of both right and left. It was a demonstration by (pick one) Homeland Security, the Obama administration, the military, or just “them” to prove they could easily shut down a major American city and/or make the “sheeple” follow any order that entity might chose to give. That one is easily dismissed although the rest of us are likely to spend too much time trying to do instead of merely rolling our eyes and saying, “There you go again.”
The second will undoubtedly take hold and do a lot to undermine the gratitude and good will we saw demonstrated on the streets of Watertown and Boston after it was all over. Was the lockdown overkill, a terrible misuse of resources, an abuse of power?
Let me ask a question of my own. Would you be asking this if the two men and/or any accomplices had salted the streets of Boston or Cambridge or the subways that link so much of the area with more of those pressure cooker bombs. Would you be asking it if Tsarnaev had ultimately made his way to New York City or your own downtown?
Special election is bringing them out of the woodwork.
Yesterday I got a robocall promoting Xanthi Gionis, a candidate for CA’s 40th state senate district in the special election this week, and so decided to check her out. Though the call boasted that she was the only candidate with an “A rating by the NRA,” Gionis’s story was much worse than I expected. This Tea Party affiliate:
-has recently been accused of fraud for running a diploma-mill fake university ripping off third-world students,
-has had her “Aristotle University” shut down by the state,
-is under investigation by Homeland Security,
-has had at least one ex-teacher go on-camera to say Gionis borrowed money for the campaign (for my robocall?) and won’t pay it back,
-threatened her students with deportation if they didn’t pay their tuition on time,
-is running around saying all of the above are “personal attacks” likes she’s the victim, and
-couldn’t even get the endorsement of the Republican party this time; she’s running as an independent.
It’s really hard to watch the plaintive testimony of one of her students, who came all the way from Ghana and lost his life savings, without thinking that Xanthi Gionis is a major-league scumbag; hopefully she’ll soon be a convicted felon and/or the target of a major lawsuit, too; I can’t see any way that charges won’t be brought against her or that her ex-students don’t have an open-and-shut case. Her website falsely claimed the school was accredited, it showed a large modern building as the “university” when in fact the whole school was a one-room office, the instruction was often limited to sitting around and watching videos, and now it’s been shut down for not even having a license.
Public affairs officers in Southern Arizona and along the Southwest border received an unusual directive from a regional spokesman on Feb. 1.
“All,” William Brooks addressed them, “We will no longer provide interviews, ride-alongs, visits etc. about the border, the state of the border and what have you.
“Should you get a request, inform the reporter that you will see what you can do and get back to them. Then send it to me.”
If that sounds like an instruction for these agency spokesmen not to do their jobs, you shouldn’t be surprised. The U.S. Border Patrol and other agencies of the Department of Homeland Security have worked steadily over recent years to centralize their image control and deflect scrutiny.
This has happened at the same time the Border Patrol has grown to become the largest law-enforcement agency in Southern Arizona by far, numbering 4,300 agents. The upshot: It’s harder and harder for the public to know how this omnipresent force is using its taxpayer funding and its police authority.
In email exchanges over weeks, [Customs and Border Protection regional spokesman William Brooks] said the Border Patrol’s use-of-force policy is not publicly available - even though other police agencies post such policies on the Internet - and denied a request to know what discipline, if any, several agents had received as a result of specific shootings.
Revealing a misunderstanding of the difference between government employees and workers for private companies, he wrote in a Nov. 30 email to me, “I would expect your personnel records are private as well, no?”
Given all this, it wasn’t surprising how the agency responded when I sent them the Feb. 1 email, which was passed on to me, and asked for an explanation. Brooks’ emailed response was one sentence: “Who sent you a copy of the email?”
I asked our local congressmen, Ron Barber and Raúl Grijalva, if they wanted to comment on the issue. Grijalva responded and pointed out what may be a key explanation.
“Sometimes I think the effort on the border happened so fast that the processes never caught up with it,” he said. “If we’re going to have a security effort of this magnitude, then there should be a corresponding attention to transparency and access.”
“Should” isn’t enough. In a democracy like ours, in a region where we encounter Homeland Security agents daily, transparency is a must.
Read the whole column, and see a copy of Brooks’s email, here: Tim Steller: Border Patrol Tries to Control Image
No doubt one of the cases the Border Patrol doesn’t want to talk about is this one: US Border Patrol Agents Shot Mexican Teen 7 Times From Behind. But there are many others. Last December, Tim Steller wrote a blog post about abuses by the Border Patrol.
Grijalva is right, there should be transparency. And Steller is right, there must be transparency.
Underneath the somewhat general and misunderstood term ‘immigration reform’ are two central issues: An overhaul of current immigration policies and tighter border security. Both are complex but today we’re going to focus on the latter.
First and foremost, it’s not as easy as just ‘building a damn fence’. Although on the surface this seems like a simple, tidy solution the truth is it’s nowhere close.
Let’s look at some of the issues that would make building a fence impossibly difficult:
The border is big – The border spans 1969 miles. To build say an eight foot fence across a span that large would almost certainly be prohibitively expensive on just material costs alone.
The border terrain is rugged and unpredictable – The vast majority of the border is made up of desolate desert landscapes that are harsh and unforgiving. Building in these areas would be complex and problematic.
Land ownership – Despite what you might believe, there are privately owned lands on various points along the border. These lands would either have to be purchased or acquired by eminent domain, inviting lengthy legal battles and court costs. This aspect alone would take years to straighten out.
Fences don’t really work that well – We all know fences can be climbed, but another common way past a fence is going underneath it. Mexican drug cartels are experts at using underground tunnels to not only cross the border but evade ICE agents along the way. There are already fences present at large sections of the border and although they have somewhat helped the immigration problem, they’ve only been effective to a degree.
But let’s say for the sake of argument the stars align and a massive continuous eight foot fence is constructed along the entire border. We are then left with another complex, pressing question:
Who would defend it?
Not who as in which agency as the Department of Homeland Security would obviously take the lead, but quite literally who as in the border guards themselves.
Simply put, DHS would have to hire a hell of a lot of new border patrol officers to handle a fence of such magnitude.
Look up there again. The border is 1969 miles long. Let’s say you want one agent for every three miles, that’s 656 agents needed for the entire fence. The number would likely be higher because you’d need not only roving agents but stationary ones guarding the fence. DHS would also have to contribute increased non-human resources to handle the undertaking.
Of course this leads us to the question: Who will pay for all this?
The answer obviously, is the American taxpayer but that’s the pink elephant in the room the ‘Build the fence’ people rarely bother to address. This is deliberate of course because they known that such a project would take a lot of zeroes to build and maintain.
And even if you build a border fence against all odds, you’ve only come part way in solving the problem.
Aside from the actual border itself, the vast majority of border regions are barren, rugged deserts with few unique marks among them. It can easily seem like an endless, repeating, unchanging landscape like the repeating background on an old cartoon.
It’s difficult and treacherous to navigate either by vehicle or on foot and policing such an area is complicated, painstaking work even for well trained and equipped officers.
Add to that the fact that the majority of illicit border crossings are done by professionals, either in the form of Mexican drug cartel associates or what are known as ‘coyotes’, paid human smugglers tasked with getting illegal immigrants across the border safely.
These operatives know ICE tactics well and spend their lives developing methods to circumvent them. They aren’t just going to go away if a big fence gets put up.
Illegal immigration and drug running are big business. As long as the money flows (and it will), that’s not going to change. A border wall won’t stop it. Even slaughtering a good number of the cartel members wouldn’t stop it.
We aren’t going to solve the problem with guns.
We aren’t going to solve the problem with a wall.
We aren’t going to solve the problem by deporting all Latinos.
We are only going to solve it when work together on a meaningful, effective solution that respects the rights of immigrants and the laws of the United States.
Sadly, I think we’re a long way away from that.
Summary: The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is the latest body to warn users to disable Java software amid escalating concerns over a serious, exploitable vulnerability.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has warned users to disable or uninstall Java software on their computers, amid continuing fears and an escalation in warnings from security experts that hundreds of millions of business and consumer users are vulnerable to a serious flaw.
Hackers have discovered a weakness in Java 7 security that could allow the installation of malicious software and malware on machines that could increase the chance of identity theft, or the unauthorized participation in a botnet that could bring down networks or be used to carry out denial-of-service attacks against Web sites.
“We are currently unaware of a practical solution to this problem,” said the DHS’ Computer Emergency Readiness Team (CERT) in a post on its Web site on Thursday evening. “This vulnerability is being attacked in the wild, and is reported to be incorporated into exploit kits. Exploit code for this vulnerability is also publicly available.”
Java users should disable or uninstall Java immediately to mitigate any damage.
“They…come in with weapons, they seized a half-million dollars worth of property, they shut our factory down, and they have not charged us with anything,” says Gibson Guitars CEO Henry Juszkiewicz, referring to the August 2011 raid on his Nashville and Memphis factories by agents from the Departments of Homeland Security and Fish & Wildlife.
The feds raided Gibson for using an inappropriate tariff code on wood from India, which is a violation of the anti-trafficking statute known as The Lacey Act. At issue is not whether the wood in question was endangered, but whether the wood was the correct level of thickness and finish before being exported from India. “India is wanting to ensure that raw wood is not exported without some labor content from India,” says Juskiewicz.
Top U.S. intelligence officials gathered in the White House Situation Room in March to debate a controversial proposal. Counterterrorism officials wanted to create a government dragnet, sweeping up millions of records about U.S. citizens—even people suspected of no crime.
Not everyone was on board. “This is a sea change in the way that the government interacts with the general public,” Mary Ellen Callahan, chief privacy officer of the Department of Homeland Security, argued in the meeting, according to people familiar with the discussions.
A week later, the attorney general signed the changes into effect.
Through Freedom of Information Act requests and interviews with officials at numerous agencies, The Wall Street Journal has reconstructed the clash over the counterterrorism program within the administration of President Barack Obama. The debate was a confrontation between some who viewed it as a matter of efficiency—how long to keep data, for instance, or where it should be stored—and others who saw it as granting authority for unprecedented government surveillance of U.S. citizens.
The rules now allow the little-known National Counterterrorism Center to examine the government files of U.S. citizens for possible criminal behavior, even if there is no reason to suspect them. That is a departure from past practice, which barred the agency from storing information about ordinary Americans unless a person was a terror suspect or related to an investigation.
Now, NCTC can copy entire government databases—flight records, casino-employee lists, the names of Americans hosting foreign-exchange students and many others. The agency has new authority to keep data about innocent U.S. citizens for up to five years, and to analyze it for suspicious patterns of behavior. Previously, both were prohibited. Data about Americans “reasonably believed to constitute terrorism information” may be