A Harvey man who purports to be a “sovereign citizen” immune from local, state and federal law has been arrested on federal terrorism charges. Melvin Lewis II, 51, is accused of scheming to defraud his former employer and several officials in Jefferson Parish of hundreds of millions of dollars.
Lewis was booked Thursday with mail fraud and mailing threatening communications, the FBI announced. The charges stem from his employment with Dynamic Industries of Harvey, and from a traffic ticket he received last year in Westwego.
The FBI describes sovereign citizens as “anti-government extremists who believe that even though they physically reside in this country, they are separate or ‘sovereign’ from the United States. As a result, they believe they don’t have to answer to any government authority, including courts, taxing entities, motor vehicle departments, or law enforcement.”
There are two major planks to Salam’s argument, and they will ring familiar to anyone who lived in the immediate post-9/11 world: that America must have an aggressive and powerful army, first because our strength is required to bring stability to a vulnerable world, and second because there is so much evil in the world, we are required to defeat it. These are not, let’s say, the freshest of arguments when it comes to the defense of neoconservatism. But since he’s brought them back up, they should be addressed.
In essence, both arguments can be refuted with three words: should implies can. For the argument towards stability, I ask simply: we have endured a war in Iraq, we still have thousands of troops in Afghanistan, we have waged secret wars in Pakistan and Yemen. I ask you: how stable do you find the world? How stable was the world at the height of the Bush Doctrine? What possible evidence can be offered that neoconservatism brings stability in fact, rather than merely in rhetoric?
Nor is it clear that the enduring American military dominance Salam advocates for can be achieved. I would certainly oppose American military hegemony even if I thought such a thing were still possible, but it’s irrelevant, because I don’t. To quote Matthew Yglesias, relative decline is not a choice. That the United States cannot maintain its status as unipolar power forever should be obvious to anyone who has studied history and anyone with a newspaper subscription. The rapidly developing economies and massive populations of countries like China and India make that plain enough. That’s not to say that there will necessarily be a new dominant superpower, but it’s a reason you should bet on the field.
The United States was largely spared this medical disaster thanks to the tenacity of one woman, a young FDA reviewer named Dr. Francis Kelsey, who fought more than a year to delay the drug’s approval in the United States and ultimately prevented its release. The realization of how close America came to participating in the tragedy sweeping across Europe brought about regulatory reforms that held pharmaceutical firms far more accountable for the drugs they make.
But, as Retro Report found, this dark chapter was not the end for thalidomide. Decades later scientific inquisitiveness collided with luck to turn the once-infamous drug into a life-saving treatment for tens of thousands of patients in the throes of other painful and often deadly diseases. From leprosy to blood-born cancers, thalidomide is now a go-to drug. This salvation, however, continues to carry a human cost; the shadow of its past is being revisited today in places like Brazil, and victims say they continue to look warily toward thalidomide’s future.
Glenn Beck has ‘discovered’ an evil, menacing, no good, new world order, Marxist fascist liberal Muslim satanic agenda or something in some benign progressive manifesto ‘that shall not be named’….ooooooh spoooky:
During Glenn Beck’s rousing weekend speech at the Summer Retreat for the David Horowitz Freedom Center, when discussing the fact that Americans do not know their own history, he pulled out a book with a shockingly prescient message.
“The President when he went to run for his second term…put out a video and it was on and then it was off. And it went away quickly because when I saw the title I said, “Oh I know that title.” And it was pulled within the first day.”
So this scary spooky evil plan?
A strong, centralized government.
An executive arm growing at the expense of the legislative and judicial arms. In some countries, power is consolidated in a dictator, issuing decrees.
The control of banking, credit and security exchanges by the government.
The underwriting of employment by the government, either through armaments or public works.
The underwriting of social security by the government-old-age pensions, mothers’ pensions, unemployment insurance, and the like.
The underwriting of food, housing and medical care, by the government. The United States is already experimenting with providing these essentials. Other nations are far along the road.
The use of the deficit spending technique to finance these underwritings. The annually balanced budget has lost its old-time sanctity.
The abandonment of gold in favor of managed currencies.
The control of foreign trade by the government, with increasing emphasis on bilateral agreements and barter deals.
The control of natural resources, with increasing emphasis on self-sufficiency.
The control of energy resources-hydroelectric power, coal, petroleum, natural gas.
The control of transportation-railway, highway, airway, waterway.
The control of agricultural production.
The control of labor organizations, often to the point of prohibiting strikes.
The enlistment of young men and women to youth corps devoted to health, discipline, community service and ideologies consistent with those of the authorities. The CCC camps have just inaugurated military drill.
Heavy taxation, with special emphasis on the estates and incomes of the rich.
Not much “taking over” of property or industries in the old socialistic sense. The formula appears to be control without ownership. It is interesting to recall that the same formula is used by the management of great corporations in depriving stockholders of power.
The state control of communications and propaganda.
I suppose if you repackage the same old strawman as a new bogey man it becomes all shiny and new new. Right?
Soon you shall all be forced to join the Peace Corp… bwahahahahahah
Saudi Arabia is not the go-to country when you think of atheism, being one of the world’s most repressive Islamic societies. Turns out we may have them pegged all wrong. A 2012 Gallup poll revealed that there is a similar proportion of atheists in Saudi Arabia as in the United States and parts of Europe, and what’s more, those atheists are being increasingly vocal, despite the threat of violence against them.
When Saudi Arabia issued a decree criminalizing the practice of atheism this month, it sparked a blasphemous campaign in response. The hashtag #CampaigntoTearTheQuraninSaudiArabia was tweeted more than 7,800 times in the span of a week, circulating images of protest.
Desecration of the Quran is one of the most extreme acts of blasphemy that a Muslim can perpetrate and has been a trigger for violent reactions around the world. Several days ago, an angry mob burned a Hindu temple in Pakistan to the ground after rumors circulated that a Quran had been desecrated by one of its members.
The asylum procedure is an assessment of whether an asylum seeker is entitled to asylum in terms of Article 16a of the Basic Law (Grundgesetz), to refugee status in terms of the 1951 Refugee Convention or to subsidiary protection in terms of the German Residence Law (Aufenthaltsgesetz).
As Snowden is clearly not persecuted for reasons of “race”, religion and nationality or as a member of a particular social group, his claim for constitutional asylum would be assessed according to the same criteria as his claim for refugee status. In both cases, his application may be successful if he is persecuted for reasons of his political opinion or if his fear of being persecuted for such reasons is well-founded.
There is widespread misconception that the German executive has an almost unlimited discretion in assessing whether an individual is persecuted for reasons of his/her political opinion. This seems to be the view of those who invoke the transatlantic relationship as an obstacle to Snowden’s protection. In a distant past, this might have been a valid argument. Modern refugee law, however, has withdrawn asylum claims from the pure realm of arbitrary exercise of power and the outcome of the asylum procedure is subject to judicial review.
Qatar World Cup Investigation: Imagine if Australia Won 2022 Bid, a Sports-Mad Country Wanting to Put on Party
Imagine a World Cup in an honest, welcoming, sports-mad country, whose emerging football league would be transformed by local stadia hosting global superstars. Imagine a World Cup where organisers are motivated primarily by a desire to put on a great party for the world. Imagine a World Cup in Australia.
Australia bid for the right to host 2022 but were outmuscled by Qatar, who won by a bizarre landslide, ahead of the United States, South Korea and (separately) Japan at the Dec 2, 2010 vote in Zurich. It was laughable that such a serious bid as Australia should finish last. It summed up Fifa’s tainted voting system that the most legitimate bid went out in the first round. It is no surprise that half of the 22 ExCo members involved have since stepped down, some of them totally discredited. This was the vote that probity forgot.
Let us take the alternatives to 2022. The US, for all its magnificent arenas and powerful media, have staged the competition before as have South Korea and Japan. The competition should be pioneering, pushing back the boundaries. Qatar could not be taken seriously from a footballing perspective; there could be no serious footballing legacy from holding the event in such an artificial environment. No integrity.
Last week, the federal government finally dismissed 11 controversial counts from its overzealous prosecution of journalist Barrett Brown. These counts charged Brown with identity theft for sharing a link to records documenting improper and potentially illegal activities by the U.S. intelligence contractor, Stratfor Global Intelligence.
The fact that Brown has been in jail for 18 months, based in large part on these charges, has threatened and continues to threaten press freedom in the United States.
Before the government dropped its charges, we were less than five days away from filing an amicus brief in the case on behalf of EFF and some of the most influential organizations protecting the rights of journalists around the world, including Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, Reporters Without Borders, Freedom of the Press Foundation, and PEN American Center.
We may never know why the government finally decided to drop the charges, though it could have been due to the threat of our amicus brief. We called the Assistant U.S. Attorney handling the case on Tuesday to let her know we planned to file the brief (a formality). The next day, without any warning to us or to Brown’s lawyer, the government filed its motion to dismiss, which the court granted on Friday.
But as we argued in the brief, the government should never have brought these charges in the first place. Doing so violated the First Amendment and created a chilling effect on all journalists reporting in the United States.
It is possible the government came to its senses and dropped these charges after realizing the First Amendment problems with its prosecution. Its initial determination to prosecute Brown may have been clouded by the fact that Brown admitted to being a heroin user and threatened an FBI agent and his children in a semi-coherent video posted to YouTube. (This happened after the FBI charged Brown’s mother with obstruction of justice for failing to produce Brown’s laptop.) Brown still faces charges for this threat in a separate criminal case, as well as charges of obstruction of justice for concealing evidence. However, Brown’s arguable lapse of judgment does not excuse the government for bringing specious identity theft charges against him for the simple act of sharing a link.
This new trend is chilling, frankly. From Jamaica to France to Russia, and many map stops in between, a who’s who of American anti-LGBT activists, feeling defeated and increasingly marginalized here at home, are seizing the chance to stir the pot in any nation that might be willing to see them as soothsayers. It is, to the letter, the strategy we saw in Uganda a handful of years ago, when Scott Lively and other Americans started dropping into the nation and telling locals how downright awful we LGBT Americans are. We all know how that one played out.
Perhaps these exporters of animus get a free trip and a little feeling of importance out of these gigs. But in booking these trips, they are selling out their country and the majority of citizens who support equality for LGBT people, quite literally portraying America as some sort of fallen embarrassment for which we should apologize. They also have been inciting harsh violence against the existing LGBT population. They need to be held accountable for their words, whether spoken in the United States, Peru, or elsewhere around the world.
*UPDATE: Our friends at Right Wing Watch remind us that Liberty Counsel’s Mat Staver was also in Peru last fall, where he was treated like a visiting hero: Staver Awarded By Peruvian Government For Helping To Fight Obama’s Godless Colonialism [RWW]
The United States defended its controls on mass surveillance on Friday before a UN watchdog body amid a sweeping review of Washington’s record on civil and political rights.
The US government has faced a cascade of scandals over online and telephone snooping around the globe by the US National Security Agency (NSA) since fugitive former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden went public in 2013.
During a session of the United Nations Human Rights Committee, experts from the 18-member panel repeatedly quizzed Washington’s delegation about the scale and scope of spying.
Bruce Swartz, deputy assistant attorney general for the criminal division at the US Department of Justice, underlined that the intelligence programs in the spotlight were “lawful under the law of the United States”.
“The intelligence collection in question is only for a valid purpose, and that is for foreign intelligence for counter-intelligence purposes,” Swartz insisted.