Hobby Lobby

The decision, written by Justice Alito, is beyond disturbing. It essentially grants for-profit corporations a free pass not to follow laws by invoking their “religious rights” under RFRA. While Alito and his buddies said their ruling was narrow, nothing could … Continue reading

The decision, written by Justice Alito, is beyond disturbing. It essentially grants for-profit corporations a free pass not to follow laws by invoking their “religious rights” under RFRA.

While Alito and his buddies said their ruling was narrow, nothing could be further from the truth. The door is now wide open for corporations to run to court saying they can discriminate in a variety of ways.

Some key points about Hobby Lobby:

As Justice Ginsberg noted in her dissent, “‘Closely held’ is not synonymous with ‘small.’” America’s five largest “closely held” corporations alone employ more than 436,000 people — one of those companies being the $115 billion, 60,000-employee Koch Industries. And the Washington Post reported that, according to a 2000 study, “closely held” is a term that covers as much as 90 percent (or more) of all businesses, and studies from Columbia University and New York University showed that closely held corporations employed 52 percent of the American workforce.
The duplicitousness of pretending that limiting the ruling to “closely held” corporations really limits it substantially in scope goes beyond just the size and number of “closely held” corporations. In providing no actual reasoning as to why only “closely held” corporations would be afforded religious rights under RFRA, Justice Alito’s Hobby Lobby decision certainly could pave the way for all corporations — even publicly traded ones — to claim these rights.
Many on the Religious Right are already asserting employers’ right to discriminate against LGBT people. While Hobby Lobby states that employers cannot claim religious objections in order to discriminate based on race, it says nothing about sex or sexual orientation.

The Supreme Court ponders the contraceptive mandate

ON March 25th the Affordable Care Act, better known as “Obamacare”, was back before the Supreme Court. Two years ago the justices upheld most of the law. This week they heard oral arguments in Sebelius v Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. and Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. v Sebelius. These two consolidated cases concern Obamacare’s “contraceptive mandate”—the requirement that businesses offering their employees health insurance must provide plans that cover all federally-approved contraception methods at no extra cost to their employees.

The legal merits of these cases revolve around the concept of  Corporate personhood


Corporations are NOT people. While it is true that what guides them is the human activity of their executives, boards of directors, managers and employees, all the human emotional factors of the people in the corporation pass through a “filter” created by the two basic rules:

  1. Maximize profit
  2. Do whatever is necessary to continue the business.

(Rule number 1 should be modified when it conflicts with rule 2)

It is a slippery road to give personal rights to corporations. The corporation is an amoral entity, i.e., not governed by human moral values. It lacks guilt for what it does, or empathy for those it harms. What’s worse, this “sociopathic” entity is given the rights of a human being, but not similar responsibilities. A corporation is particularly dangerous because of its great concentration of money, power, and political influence–which it uses freely to reach its goals.

To give a concrete example of the dangers of giving too much power to corporations to allow corporations to participate directly on political campaigns is a very serious threat to democracy.

Campaign finance law in the United States changed drastically in the wake of two 2010 judicial opinions: the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. FEC and the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals decision in SpeechNow.org v. FEC.[42] According to a 2011 Congressional Research Service report, these two decisions constitute “the most fundamental changes to campaign finance law in decades.” [43]

Citizens United struck down, on free speech grounds, the limits on the ability of organizations that accepted corporate or union money from running electioneering communications. The Court reasoned that the restrictions permitted by Buckley were justified based on avoiding corruption or the appearance of corruption, and that this rationale did not apply to corporate donations to independent organizations. Citizens United overruled the 1990 case Austin v. Michigan Chamber of Commerce, in which the Supreme Court upheld the Michigan Campaign Finance Act, which prohibited corporations from using treasury money to support or oppose candidates in elections.

Two months later, a unanimous nine-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit decided SpeechNow, which relied on Citizens United to hold that Congress could not limit donations to organizations that only made independent expenditures, that is, expenditures that were “uncoordinated” with a candidate’s campaign. These decisions led to the rise of “independent-expenditure only” PACs, commonly known as “Super PACs.” Super PACs, under Citizens United and SpeechNow, can raise unlimited funds from individual and corporate donors and use those funds for electioneering advertisements, provided that the Super PAC does not coordinate with a candidate.

One should not confuse the individuals working within a corporation with the corporation proper. To elaborate and clarify the point of freedom of speech and corporations let’s consider the case of Media corporations, those whose actual activity revolves around disseminating information and opinion. While journalist, writers, news anchors, and the like have 1st amendment rights, the corporations that they work for do not. This might be a subtle point but it is crucial. When corporations do have positions on some issues, and they always have an agenda, this is NOT freedom of speech, it is censorship. This censorship is exercised trough the firing or ostracizing of staff or source that go astray of the corporate line. Thus, to give corporations freedom of speech rights is actually antithetical of the spirit of the first amendment.

Corporations as such do not have national loyalties. Just as an example, Standard Oil supplied the German government during WW II as Coca Cola did.

The Standard Oil group of companies, in which the Rockefeller family owned a one-quarter (and controlling) interest,1 was of critical assistance in helping Nazi Germany prepare for World War II. This assistance in military preparation came about because Germany’s relatively insignificant supplies of crude petroleum were quite insufficient for modern mechanized warfare; in 1934 for instance about 85 percent of German finished petroleum products were imported. The solution adopted by Nazi Germany was to manufacture synthetic gasoline from its plentiful domestic coal supplies. It was the hydrogenation process of producing synthetic gasoline and iso-octane properties in gasoline that enabled Germany to go to war in 1940 — and this hydrogenation process was developed and financed by the Standard Oil laboratories in the United States in partnership with I.G. Farben.

Evidence presented to the Truman, Bone, and Kilgore Committees after World War II confirmed that Standard Oil had at the same time “seriously imperiled the war preparations of the United States.”2Documentary evidence was presented to all three Congressional committees that before World War II Standard Oil had agreed with I.G. Farben, in the so-called Jasco agreement, that synthetic rubber was within Farben’s sphere of influence, while Standard Oil was to have an absolute monopoly in the U.S. only if and when Farben allowed development of synthetic rubber to take place in the U.S.

Fanta is a global brand of fruit-flavored carbonated soft drinks created by The Coca-Cola Company. There are over 100 flavors worldwide. The drink originated in Germany in 1941.

Fanta originated as a result of difficulties importing Coca-Cola syrup into Nazi Germany during World War II due to a trade embargo.[2] To circumvent this, Max Keith, the head of Coca-Cola Deutschland (Coca-Cola GmbH) during the Second World War, decided to create a new product for the German market, using only ingredients available in Germany at the time, including whey and pomace – the “leftovers of leftovers”, as Keith later recalled.[2][3] The name was the result of a brief brainstorming session, which started with Keith exhorting his team to “use their imagination” (“Fantasie” in German), to which one of his salesmen, Joe Knipp, immediately retorted “Fanta!”[3]

While the plant was effectively cut off from Coca Cola headquarters during the war, plant management did not join the Nazi Party. After the war, the Coca Cola corporation regained control of the plant, formula and the trademarks to the new Fanta product — as well as the plant profits made during the war

The U.S. Federal tax system also helps corporations operate in this amoral way by allowing them to deduct from their profits, with some limitations, the cost of public relations campaigns to cover for the damage they cause, the compensation to victims, the cleanup operations, the cost of legal defense, legal damage awards, and the cost of lobbying to change the laws in their favor or gain exemptions from the law. In other words, if they are caught, corporations pay the costs of their destructive, illegal activities with tax-free money. (Tax free for one corporation = somebody else pays more taxes.)

In their current form, corporations are the most dangerous things on earth–because they threaten the survival of humankind and the entire planetary ecosystem.

Birth control does not mean abortion I am not in favor of abortion but I am against using this kind of complicated issues for political ends. How do one balance in black and white gun ownership and the statement that murder is wrong? In the same way that gun advocates justify killing a human being outside the womb (to themselves) by redefining murder according to the circumstances, others justify killing a human being inside the womb (to themselves) by redefining abortion according to the circumstances.

Tea Party types do believe that killing is proper under some conditions and are against governments interfering with the freedoms of people, so why be in favor of government regulations of any kind? Criminalizing behaviors is not a solution for social problems.

Republican Jodie Laubenberg, who co-authored Texas strict anti-abortion laws in 2013, (because she says she believes that “life begins at conception”) also opposed healthcare for newly developing fetuses. Laubenberg testified that the unborn should not be entitled to health care, because “they aren’t born yet.

According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC) the single most important factor for a healthy pregnancy is a healthy mother. This means that every woman who is of child-bearing age should have regular health screenings, as well as access to services and medications which can help diagnose, prevent, treat or cure chronic or temporary health conditions.

According to the CDC (the only agency in the United States that has the ability to monitor and track abortion rates) in 2009 there were 15.1 abortions for every 1,000 live births. Of those abortion 91.7 percent were performed earlier than 13th week of pregnancy, and of those the majority, almost 70 percent, were performed prior to the 8th week of pregnancy. Additionally, statistics show that many of the abortions that occur later in pregnancy are performed for medical reasons.

In this highly informative article published on Patheos.com, the author explains the many reasons she lost faith in the right wing’s pro-life movement.

“Highly restrictive abortion laws are not associated with lower abortion rates. For example, the abortion rate is 29 per 1,000 women of childbearing age in Africa and 32 per 1,000 in Latin America—regions in which abortion is illegal under most circumstances in the majority of countries. The rate is 12 per 1,000 in Western Europe, where abortion is generally permitted on broad grounds.”

There’s a circus of political shows with no other end that entertain and distract. Like for example that speech of a democrat meant to be an attack on Republican policies when Reagan had just passed an immigration amnesty, and now it is used for opposite purposes. Life is not as simple as good conservatives on the shadow of God against evil liberal lefties doing the devil’s work.


Corporate personhood

Corporations had been viewed as artificial persons for millennia, the debate over whether they should be afforded the same rights as humans had been raging long before the United States created, or the14th Amendment was adopted. The degree of permissible government interference … Continue reading

Corporations had been viewed as artificial persons for millennia, the debate over whether they should be afforded the same rights as humans had been raging long before the United States created, or the14th Amendment was adopted. The degree of permissible government interference in corporate affairs was controversial from the earliest days of the nation.

With the Industrial Revolution, the favored form for large businesses became the corporation as a mechanism to raise the large amounts of investment capital. The Civil War accelerated the growth of manufacturing and the power of the men who owned the large corporations. Businessmen such as Mark Hanna, sugar trust magnate Henry O. Havemeyer, banker J. P. Morgan, steel makers Charles M. Schwab and Andrew Carnegie, and railroad owners Cornelius Vanderbilt and Jay Gould created corporations which influenced legislation at the local, state, and federal levels as they built businesses that spanned multiple states and communities. After the adoption of the 14th Amendment in 1868, there was some question as to whether the Amendment applied to other than freed slaves, and whether its protections could be invoked by corporations and other organizations of persons.

Corporations as legal entities have always been able to perform commercial activities, similar to a person acting as a sole proprietor, such as entering into a contract or owning property. Therefore corporations have always had a ‘legal personality’ for the purposes of conducting business while shielding individual shareholders from personal liability (i.e., protecting personal assets which were not invested in the corporation).

Corporate personhood is the legal concept that a corporation may be recognized as an individual in the eyes of the law. This doctrine forms the basis for legal recognition that corporations, as groups of people, may hold and exercise certain rights under the common law and the U.S. Constitution. The doctrine does not grant to corporations all of the rights of citizens. In Pembina Consolidated Silver Mining Co. v. Pennsylvania - 125 U.S. 181 (1888), the Court clearly affirmed the doctrine, holding, “Under the designation of ‘person’ there is no doubt that a private corporation is included [in the Fourteenth Amendment]. Such corporations are merely associations of individuals united for a special purpose and permitted to do business under a particular name and have a succession of members without dissolution.”[2] This doctrine has been reaffirmed by the Court many times since.

As a matter of interpretation of the word “person” in the Fourteenth Amendment, U.S. courts have extended certain constitutional protections to corporations. Opponents of corporate personhood seek to amend the U.S. Constitution to limit these rights to those provided by state law and state constitutions.

The basis for allowing corporations to assert protection under the U.S. Constitution is that they are organizations of people, and the people should not be deprived of their constitutional rights when they act collectively.[5] In this view, treating corporations as “persons” is a convenient legal fiction which allows corporations to sue and to be sued, provides a single entity for easier taxation and regulation, simplifies complex transactions which would otherwise involve, in the case of large corporations, thousands of people, and protects the individual rights of the shareholders as well as the right of association.

Generally, corporations are not able to claim constitutional protections which would not otherwise be available to persons acting as a group. For example, the Supreme Court has not recognized a Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination for a corporation, since the right can be exercised only on an individual basis.

Since the Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission in 2010, upholding the rights of corporations to make political expenditures under the First Amendment, there have been several calls for a U.S. Constitutional amendment to abolish Corporate Personhood, Ralph NaderPhil Radford and others have argued that a strict originalist philosophy should reject the doctrine of corporate personhood under the Fourteenth Amendment.

A central point of debate has been what role corporate money plays and should play in democratic politics. This is part of the larger debate on campaign finance reform and the role which money may play in politics.

The corporate personhood aspect of the campaign finance debate turns on Buckley v. Valeo (1976) and Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission (2010): Buckley ruled that political spending is protected by the First Amendment right to free speech, while Citizens United ruled that corporate political spending is protected, holding that corporations have a First Amendment right to free speech. Opponents of these decisions have argued that if all corporate rights under the Constitution were abolished, it would clear the way for greater regulation of campaign spending and contributions. It should be noted, however, that neither decision relied on the concept of corporate personhood, and the Buckley decision in particular deals with the rights of individuals and political committees, not corporations.

Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, 558 U.S. ___ (2010), (Docket No. 08-205), is a US constitutional law case, in which the United States Supreme Court held that the First Amendment prohibits the government from restricting political independent expenditures by corporations,associations, or labor unions. The conservative lobbying group Citizens United wanted to air a film critical of Hillary Clinton and to advertise the film during television broadcasts in apparent violation of the 2002 Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (commonly known as the McCain–Feingold Act or “BCRA”).[2] In a 5–4 decision, the Court held that portions of BCRA §203 violated the First Amendment.

The decision reached the Supreme Court on appeal from a July 2008 decision by the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. Section 203 of BCRA defined an “electioneering communication” as a broadcast, cable, or satellite communication that mentioned a candidate within 60 days of a general election or 30 days of a primary, and prohibited such expenditures by corporations and unions. The lower court held that §203 of BCRA applied and prohibited Citizens United from advertising the film Hillary: The Movie in broadcasts or paying to have it shown on television within 30 days of the 2008 Democratic primaries.[1][3] The Supreme Court reversed, striking down those provisions of BCRA that prohibited corporations (including nonprofit corporations) and unions from making independent expenditures and “electioneering communications”.

In Citizens United the Court confidently declared, “We now conclude that independent expenditures, including those made by corporations, do not give rise to corruption or the appearance of corruption.” And for skeptics who thought otherwise, the Court provided this additional assurance: “The appearance of influence or access, furthermore, will not cause the electorate to lose faith in our democracy.”

In 2012 the Justices overturned a century-old Montana law that prohibited corporate spending in Montana state’s elections.

On march 2014 the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Sebelius v Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. and Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. v Sebelius. These two consolidated cases concern Obamacare’s “contraceptive mandate”—the requirement that businesses offering their employees health insurance must provide plans that cover all federally-approved contraception methods at no extra cost to their employees.

Hobby Lobby Stores and Conestoga Wood Specialties are both owned by Christians who believe that some of those contraceptive methods are tantamount to abortion, because they can prevent a fertilized egg from implanting in the uterus. The owners seek an exemption to the contraceptive mandate under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), a statute that Congress passed almost unanimously in 1993. This says that “government shall not substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability”, unless the law is the least restrictive way to further a compelling state interest.

To summarize, the US judiciary thinks that corporations should have speech rights because they are basically associations of people. This view overlooks the fact that corporations are instruments with a very specific purpose, to make money.  In fact, many social ills created by corporations stem directly from corporate law. The law actually inhibits executives and corporations from being socially responsible. A provision in corporate law says the purpose of the corporation is simply to make money for shareholders. Every jurisdiction where corporations operate has its own law of corporate governance. But remarkably, the corporate design contained in hundreds of corporate laws throughout the world is nearly identical. That design creates a governing body to manage the corporation, usually a board of directors, and dictates the duties of those directors. In short, the law creates corporate purpose. That purpose is to operate in the interests of shareholders.

Of course there are people behind corporations, however, one of the main purposes of corporations is to shield people from responsibility of what the corporation do. While it is true that what guide corporations  is the human activity of their executives, boards of directors, managers and employees, all the human emotional factors of the people in the corporation pass through a “filter” created by the basic rule of maximizing profit. A corporation is a complex machine, and as it grows, its actions get more detached from the values of the founders. Wal-Mart a clear example of this. When Sam Walton was alive there probably was some truth on the saying that the Wal-Mart Way was the American Way; Nowadays is the cheap slave  labor Chinese way.

Corporations are big machines that should not go amok, the same way a train engine needs tracks. Free market is not restrain enough, specially when there is such an concentration of wealth and power and a few oligopolies control everything. In practice, corporations are powerful enough that they control government, not the other way, and is a moot point to discuss government regulations. Nonetheless one should be at least aware of the manipulations of public opinion and values.

Small family business might show some correlation between their behavior and the values of the shareholders. But the modern large corporation, the one that we, the people, the flesh and blood people, should consider, is an amoral entity, i.e., not governed by human moral values. It lacks guilt for what it does, or empathy for those it harms.  A corporation  can function beyond the natural limits that govern humans. A corporation doesn’t die with its originator. Corporations can’t feel pain. A corporation cannot be  imprisoned. One might give corporations the rights of a human being, but not similar responsibilities.

Like Frankenstein´s monster, corporations do have a life of their own, beyond the wishes, expectations or actions of their founders. Corporations are at their most nefarious as a living entity, bound on survive and thrive at all cost. The modern corporation is particularly dangerous because of its great concentration of money, power, and political influence–which it uses freely to reach its goals.

Even more, if it is granted that corporations reflect the interest and values of their owners, and there are a few extremely wealthy and powerful, that gives this few undue advantage to impose their interests on the majority.

It is a fact of life that the winner of elections for public office, specially the presidency, can be predicted on the bases of the amount spends on the campaigns.  The news media coverage in the United States is of very low quality, heavily biased towards the interests of the plutocracy. Extending the rights and prerogatives of big corporations is in practice the end of democracy.

 

In 2010, after the Supreme Court declared that corporations have the same rights as individuals when it comes to funding political campaigns, Murray Hill took what it considers the next logical step: declaring for office.

“Until now, corporate interests had to rely on campaign contributions and influence-peddling to achieve their goals in Washington,” the candidate, who was unavailable for an interview, said in a statement. “But thanks to an enlightened Supreme Court, now we can eliminate the middle-man and run for office ourselves.”

William Klein, a “hired gun” who has been enlisted as Murray Hill’s campaign manager, said the firm appears to be the first “corporate person” to run for office and is promising a spirited campaign that “puts people second, or even third.”

A stunt, but how far should the corporate personhood metaphor go?


caught in the middle

Corporations are NOT people. While it is true that what guides them is the human activity of their executives, boards of directors, managers and employees, all the human emotional factors of the people in the corporation pass through a “filter” created by the two basic rules:

  1. Maximize profit
  2. Do whatever is necessary to continue the business.

(Rule number 1 should be modified when it conflicts with rule 2)

It is a slippery road to give personal rights to corporations. The corporation is an amoral entity, i.e., not governed by human moral values. It lacks guilt for what it does, or empathy for those it harms. What’s worse, this «sociopathic» entity is given the rights of a human being, but not similar responsibilities. A corporation is particularly dangerous because of its great concentration of money, power, and political influence–which it uses freely to reach its goals. To give a concrete example of the dangers of giving corporations personal rights to allow corporations to participate directly on political campaigns is a very serious threat to democracy.

To elaborate and clarify the point of freedom of speech and corporations let’s consider the case of Media corporations, those whose actual activity revolves around disseminating information and opinion. While journalist, writers, news anchors, and the like have 1st amendment rights, the corporations that they work for do not. This might be a subtle point but it is crucial. When corporations do have positions on some issues, and they always have an agenda, this is NOT freedom of speech, it is censorship. This censorship is exercised trough the firing or ostracizing of staff or source that go astray of the corporate line. Thus, to give corporations freedom of speech rights is actually antithetical of the spirit of the first amendment.

One should not confuse the individuals working within a corporation with the corporation proper. Corporations as such do not have national loyalties. Standard Oil supplied the German government during WW II as Coca Cola did. 

The U.S. Federal tax system also helps corporations operate in this amoral way by allowing them to deduct from their profits, with some limitations, the cost of public relations campaigns to cover for the damage they cause, the compensation to victims, the cleanup operations, the cost of legal defense, legal damage awards, and the cost of lobbying to change the laws in their favor or gain exemptions from the law. In other words, if they are caught, corporations pay the costs of their destructive, illegal activities with tax-free money. (Tax free for one corporation = somebody else pays more taxes.)

In their current form, corporations are the most dangerous things on earth–because they threaten the survival of humankind and the entire planetary ecosystem.

Birth control does not mean abortion I am not in favor of abortion but I am against using this kind of complicated issues for political ends. How do one balance in black and white gun ownership and the statement that murder is wrong? In the same way that gun advocates justify killing a human being outside the womb (to themselves) by redefining murder according to the circumstances, others justify killing a human being inside the womb (to themselves) by redefining abortion according to the circumstances.

Tea party types do believe that killing is proper under some conditions and are against governments interfering with the freedoms of people, so why be in favor of government regulations of any kind? Criminalizing behaviors is not a solution for social problems.

According to the CDC (the only agency in the United States that has the ability to monitor and track abortion rates) in 2009 there were 15.1 abortions for every 1,000 live births. Of those abortion 91.7 percent were performed earlier than 13th week of pregnancy, and of those the majority, almost 70 percent, were performed prior to the 8th week of pregnancy. Additionally, statistics show that many of the abortions that occur later in pregnancy are performed for medical reasons.
In this highly informative article published on Patheos.com, the author explains the many reasons she lost faith in the right wing’s pro-life movement.
“Highly restrictive abortion laws are not associated with lower abortion rates. For example, the abortion rate is 29 per 1,000 women of childbearing age in Africa and 32 per 1,000 in Latin America—regions in which abortion is illegal under most circumstances in the majority of countries. The rate is 12 per 1,000 in Western Europe, where abortion is generally permitted on broad grounds.”

There’s a circus of political shows with no other end that entertain and distract. Like for example that speech of a democrat meant to be an attack on Republican policies when Reagan had just passed an immigration amnesty, and now it is used for opposite purposes. Life is not as simple as good conservatives on the shadow of God against evil liberal lefties doing the devil’s work.


LOS ANGELES (AP) — Lowe’s Home Improvement has found itself facing a backlash after the retail giant pulled ads from a reality show about American Muslims.

The retail giant stopped advertising on TLC’s «All-American Muslim» after a conservative group known as the Florida Family Association complained, saying the program was «propaganda that riskily hides the Islamic agenda’s clear and present danger to American liberties and traditional values.»

The show premiered last month and chronicles the lives of five families from Dearborn, Mich., a Detroit suburb with a large Muslim and Arab-American population.

A state senator from Southern California said Sunday he was considering calling for a boycott.

Calling the Lowe’s decision «un-American» and «naked religious bigotry,» Sen. Ted Lieu, D-Torrance, told The Associated Press he would also consider legislative action if Lowe’s doesn’t apologize to Muslims and reinstate its ads. The senator sent a letter outlining his complaints to Lowe’s Chief Executive Officer Robert A. Niblock.

«The show is about what it’s like to be a Muslim in America, and it touches on the discrimination they sometimes face. And that kind of discrimination is exactly what’s happening here with Lowe’s,» Lieu said.

Petition

The Florida Family Association, a Florida hate group, has been aggressively targeting TLC’s new reality TV show, «All-American Muslim,»  calling it «propaganda» that «hides the Islamic agenda’s clear and present danger to American liberties and traditional values.»

Worse, hardware giant Lowe’s caved to pressure from the group and pulled its advertising. A Lowe’s spokesperson called the show a «lightning rod,» even though the show merely shows ordinary Muslim Americans leading normal lives!

Maha Hilal and Darakshan Raha, two Muslim-American women from Washington D.C., sprung into action and started a petition on Change.org to get the company to reverse course. Will you sign Maha and Darakshan’s petition calling on Lowe’s to reverse its decision to pull advertising on TLC’s «All-American Muslim» and apologize for its misguided action?

Florida Family Association’s biggest problem with «All-American Muslim» is that «the show profiles only Muslims that appear to be ordinary folks while excluding many Islamic believers whose agenda poses a clear and present danger to liberties and traditional values that the majority of Americans cherish.»

Lowe’s is a business that makes decisions just like any other: based on its public image and its bottom line. If thousands of us sign Maha and Darakshan’s petition, we’ll show Lowe’s that customers and all Americans want companies that stand for tolerance and respect, not hate and fear.

Please sign Maha and Darakshan’s petition and tell Lowe’s to apologize and reverse its decision:

http://www.change.org/petitions/lowes-home-improvement-apologize-and-reinstate-advertisements-on-tlcs-all-american-muslim

People are using Change.org every day to win incredible changes in communities all over the world. Please stand with Maha and Darakshan now to help them win.

Thanks,

– Weldon and the Change.org team

P.S. Thousands of petitions are started on Change.org every month. Here are some that need your support now:
Nilton Deza has seen whole communities destroyed by toxic waste, displacement and abusive labor practices gold mining. Join his campaign asking Macy’s to join the «No Dirty Gold» campaign this holiday season.
Maria Eyles is a disabled widow in Southern California. She’s fighting Wells Fargo to get a loan modification so she can afford to stay in her home.
D.C. college student Katie Breslin is petitioning to get Sexual Assault Forensic Evidence (SAFE) kits and trained staff in every D.C. hospital so no sexual assault survivor is turned away without treatment.
95% of puppies sold by Petland USA come from mills where dogs are bred again and again, creating a lifetime of health problems. Join the campaign to get Petland USA to commit to not selling puppies from puppy mills — just like Petland Canada already has.

Corporations are NOT people. While it is true that what guides them is the human activity of their executives, boards of directors, managers and employees, all the human emotional factors of the people in the corporation pass through a “filter” created by the two basic rules:
  1. Maximize profit
  2. Do whatever is necessary to continue the business.
(Rule number 1 should be modified when it conflicts with rule 2)

It is a slippery road to give personal rights to corporations. The corporation is an amoral entity, i.e., not governed by human moral values. It lacks guilt for what it does, or empathy for those it harms. What's worse, this "sociopathic" entity is given the rights of a human being, but not similar responsibilities. A corporation is particularly dangerous because of its great concentration of money, power, and political influence--which it uses freely to reach its goals. To give a concrete example of the dangers of giving corporations personal rights to allow corporations to participate directly on political campaigns is a very serious threat to democracy.

To elaborate and clarify the point of freedom of speech and corporations let’s consider the case of Media corporations, those whose actual activity revolves around disseminating information and opinion. While journalist, writers, news anchors, and the like have 1st amendment rights, the corporations that they work for do not. This might be a subtle point but it is crucial. When corporations do have positions on some issues, and they always have an agenda, this is NOT freedom of speech, it is censorship. This censorship is exercised trough the firing or ostracizing of staff or source that go astray of the corporate line. Thus, to give corporations freedom of speech rights is actually antithetical of the spirit of the first amendment.

One should not confuse the individuals working within a corporation with the corporation proper. Corporations as such do not have national loyalties. Standard Oil supplied the German government during WW II as Coca Cola did. 

The U.S. Federal tax system also helps corporations operate in this amoral way by allowing them to deduct from their profits, with some limitations, the cost of public relations campaigns to cover for the damage they cause, the compensation to victims, the cleanup operations, the cost of legal defense, legal damage awards, and the cost of lobbying to change the laws in their favor or gain exemptions from the law. In other words, if they are caught, corporations pay the costs of their destructive, illegal activities with tax-free money. (Tax free for one corporation = somebody else pays more taxes.)

In their current form, corporations are the most dangerous things on earth--because they threaten the survival of humankind and the entire planetary ecosystem.


Birth control does not mean abortion I am not in favor of abortion but I am against using this kind of complicated issues for political ends. How do one balance in black and white gun ownership and the statement that murder is wrong? In the same way that gun advocates justify killing a human being outside the womb (to themselves) by redefining murder according to the circumstances, others justify killing a human being inside the womb (to themselves) by redefining abortion according to the circumstances.

Tea party types do believe that killing is proper under some conditions and are against governments interfering with the freedoms of people, so why be in favor of government regulations of any kind? Criminalizing behaviors is not a solution for social problems.

According to the CDC (the only agency in the United States that has the ability to monitor and track abortion rates) in 2009 there were 15.1 abortions for every 1,000 live births. Of those abortion 91.7 percent were performed earlier than 13th week of pregnancy, and of those the majority, almost 70 percent, were performed prior to the 8th week of pregnancy. Additionally, statistics show that many of the abortions that occur later in pregnancy are performed for medical reasons.
In this highly informative article published on Patheos.com, the author explains the many reasons she lost faith in the right wing’s pro-life movement.
“Highly restrictive abortion laws are not associated with lower abortion rates. For example, the abortion rate is 29 per 1,000 women of childbearing age in Africa and 32 per 1,000 in Latin America—regions in which abortion is illegal under most circumstances in the majority of countries. The rate is 12 per 1,000 in Western Europe, where abortion is generally permitted on broad grounds.”


There’s a circus of political shows with no other end that entertain and distract. Like for example that speech of a democrat meant to be an attack on Republican policies when Reagan had just passed an immigration amnesty, and now it is used for opposite purposes. Life is not as simple as good conservatives on the shadow of God against evil liberal lefties doing the devil’s work.


LOS ANGELES (AP) — Lowe's Home Improvement has found itself facing a backlash after the retail giant pulled ads from a reality show about American Muslims.

The retail giant stopped advertising on TLC's "All-American Muslim" after a conservative group known as the Florida Family Association complained, saying the program was "propaganda that riskily hides the Islamic agenda's clear and present danger to American liberties and traditional values."

The show premiered last month and chronicles the lives of five families from Dearborn, Mich., a Detroit suburb with a large Muslim and Arab-American population.

A state senator from Southern California said Sunday he was considering calling for a boycott.

Calling the Lowe's decision "un-American" and "naked religious bigotry," Sen. Ted Lieu, D-Torrance, told The Associated Press he would also consider legislative action if Lowe's doesn't apologize to Muslims and reinstate its ads. The senator sent a letter outlining his complaints to Lowe's Chief Executive Officer Robert A. Niblock.

"The show is about what it's like to be a Muslim in America, and it touches on the discrimination they sometimes face. And that kind of discrimination is exactly what's happening here with Lowe's," Lieu said.



Petition



The Florida Family Association, a Florida hate group, has been aggressively targeting TLC's new reality TV show, "All-American Muslim,"  calling it "propaganda" that "hides the Islamic agenda's clear and present danger to American liberties and traditional values."

Worse, hardware giant Lowe’s caved to pressure from the group and pulled its advertising. A Lowe’s spokesperson called the show a "lightning rod," even though the show merely shows ordinary Muslim Americans leading normal lives!

Maha Hilal and Darakshan Raha, two Muslim-American women from Washington D.C., sprung into action and started a petition on Change.org to get the company to reverse course. Will you sign Maha and Darakshan's petition calling on Lowe's to reverse its decision to pull advertising on TLC's "All-American Muslim" and apologize for its misguided action?

Florida Family Association's biggest problem with "All-American Muslim" is that "the show profiles only Muslims that appear to be ordinary folks while excluding many Islamic believers whose agenda poses a clear and present danger to liberties and traditional values that the majority of Americans cherish."

Lowe’s is a business that makes decisions just like any other: based on its public image and its bottom line. If thousands of us sign Maha and Darakshan’s petition, we’ll show Lowe’s that customers and all Americans want companies that stand for tolerance and respect, not hate and fear.

Please sign Maha and Darakshan's petition and tell Lowe's to apologize and reverse its decision:

http://www.change.org/petitions/lowes-home-improvement-apologize-and-reinstate-advertisements-on-tlcs-all-american-muslim

People are using Change.org every day to win incredible changes in communities all over the world. Please stand with Maha and Darakshan now to help them win.

Thanks,

- Weldon and the Change.org team



P.S. Thousands of petitions are started on Change.org every month. Here are some that need your support now:
Nilton Deza has seen whole communities destroyed by toxic waste, displacement and abusive labor practices gold mining. Join his campaign asking Macy's to join the "No Dirty Gold" campaign this holiday season.
Maria Eyles is a disabled widow in Southern California. She's fighting Wells Fargo to get a loan modification so she can afford to stay in her home.
D.C. college student Katie Breslin is petitioning to get Sexual Assault Forensic Evidence (SAFE) kits and trained staff in every D.C. hospital so no sexual assault survivor is turned away without treatment.
95% of puppies sold by Petland USA come from mills where dogs are bred again and again, creating a lifetime of health problems. Join the campaign to get Petland USA to commit to not selling puppies from puppy mills -- just like Petland Canada already has.

Anti-Semitism in Sweden

Staff writer, Al Arabiya
Thursday, 14 November 2013

Israel has agreed to return organs of dead Palestinians harvested by its forensic pathologists during autopsies, Palestinian Civil Affairs Minister Hussein al-Sheikh told Ma’an news agency on Wednesday.

Head of Israel’s Abu Kabir forensic institute, Jehuda Hiss, had admitted harvesting organs from dead bodies without the permission of their families.

“We started to harvest corneas … Whatever was done was highly informal. No permission was asked from the family,” Hiss said in an interview with an American academic in 2000. The interview was released in 2010 and part of it was aired by Israel’s Channel 2 TV.

The Channel 2 report said forensic experts harvested bones, corneas, heart valves and skin from dead Israeli soldiers, citizens, Palestinians and even foreign workers.

The Israeli army admitted to organ harvesting but said the practice was no longer performed. “This activity ended a decade ago and does not happen any longer,” the military told Channel 2.

In the interview, Hiss described how his doctors would mask the removal of corneas from bodies. “We’d glue the eyelid shut,” he said. “We wouldn’t take corneas from families we knew would open the eyelids,” Associated Press reported.

The Palestinian official said Israel will “soon be returning some of the organs,” Ma’an reported.
Last Update: Thursday, 14 November 2013 KSA 00:33 – GMT 21:33


Published on Aug 19, 2013
Tossavainen: Anti-Israelism and Anti-Semitism in Sweden
Dr. Mikael Tossavainen obtained his Ph.D. in history from Lund University, Sweden. Tossavainen’s earlier research focused on anti-Semitism, historiography, and the connection between nationalism and religion. He was research director of the Post-Holocaust and Anti-Semitism Project at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. – See more at: http://jcpa.org/researcher/mikael-tos…


MATTI FRIEDMAN   08/19/09 01:24 PM ET   AP

JERUSALEM — Israel and the Swedish Embassy responded furiously Wednesday to a Swedish newspaper article that suggested Israeli troops killed Palestinians and harvested their organs.

The article published Monday in Aftonbladet, Sweden’s largest circulation daily, implies a link between those charges and the recent arrest in the U.S. of an American Jew for illicit organ trafficking. Later the reporter told Israel Radio he did not know if the allegations were true


Doctor admits Israeli pathologists harvested organs without consent

Ian Black, Middle East editor
The Guardian, Monday 21 December 2009

Israel has admitted pathologists harvested organs from dead Palestinians, and others, without the consent of their families – a practice it said ended in the 1990s – it emerged at the weekend.

The admission, by the former head of the country’s forensic institute, followed a furious row prompted by a Swedish newspaper reporting that Israel was killing Palestinians in order to use their organs – a charge that Israel denied and called «antisemitic».

The revelation, in a television documentary, is likely to generate anger in the Arab and Muslim world and reinforce sinister stereotypes of Israel and its attitude to Palestinians. Iran’s state-run Press TV tonight reported the story, illustrated with photographs of dead or badly injured Palestinians.

Ahmed Tibi, an Israeli Arab MP, said the report incriminated the Israeli army.

The story emerged in an interview with Dr Yehuda Hiss, former head of the Abu Kabir forensic institute near Tel Aviv. The interview was conducted in 2000 by an American academic who released it because of the row between Israel and Sweden over a report in the Stockholm newspaper Aftonbladet.

Channel 2 TV reported that in the 1990s, specialists at Abu Kabir harvested skin, corneas, heart valves and bones from the bodies of Israeli soldiers, Israeli citizens, Palestinians and foreign workers, often without permission from relatives.

The Israeli military confirmed to the programme that the practice took place, but added: «This activity ended a decade ago and does not happen any longer.»

Hiss said: «We started to harvest corneas … whatever was done was highly informal. No permission was asked from the family.»

However, there was no evidence that Israel had killed Palestinians to take their organs, as the Swedish paper reported. Aftonbladet quoted Palestinians as saying young men from the West Bank and Gaza Strip had been seized by the Israeli forces and their bodies returned to their families with missing organs. The interview with Hiss was released by Nancy Scheper-Hughes, professor of anthropology at the University of California-Berkeley who had conducted a study of Abu Kabir.

She was quoted by the Associated Press as saying that while Palestinians were «by a long shot» not the only ones affected, she felt the interview must be made public, because «the symbolism, you know, of taking skin of the population considered to be the enemy, [is] something, just in terms of its symbolic weight, that has to be reconsidered.»

Israel demanded that Sweden condemn the Aftonbladet article, calling it an antisemitic «blood libel». Stockholm refused, saying that to so would violate freedom of speech in the country. The foreign minister then cancelled a visit to Israel, just as Sweden was taking over the EU’s rotating presidency.

Hiss was removed from his post in 2004, when some details about organ harvesting were first reported, but he still works at the forensic institute.

Israel’s health ministry said all harvesting was now done with permission. «The guidelines at that time were not clear,» it said in a statement to Channel 2. «For the last 10 years, Abu Kabir has been working according to ethics and Jewish law.»

• This article was amended on 21 December 2009. The headline was changed as it did not reflect accurately the contents of the story. Nancy Scheper-Hughes’s name was misspelled as Nancy Sheppard-Hughes in the original text.

Staff writer, Al Arabiya
Thursday, 14 November 2013

Israel has agreed to return organs of dead Palestinians harvested by its forensic pathologists during autopsies, Palestinian Civil Affairs Minister Hussein al-Sheikh told Ma’an news agency on Wednesday.

Head of Israel's Abu Kabir forensic institute, Jehuda Hiss, had admitted harvesting organs from dead bodies without the permission of their families.

“We started to harvest corneas ... Whatever was done was highly informal. No permission was asked from the family,” Hiss said in an interview with an American academic in 2000. The interview was released in 2010 and part of it was aired by Israel's Channel 2 TV.

The Channel 2 report said forensic experts harvested bones, corneas, heart valves and skin from dead Israeli soldiers, citizens, Palestinians and even foreign workers.

The Israeli army admitted to organ harvesting but said the practice was no longer performed. “This activity ended a decade ago and does not happen any longer,” the military told Channel 2.

In the interview, Hiss described how his doctors would mask the removal of corneas from bodies. “We'd glue the eyelid shut,” he said. “We wouldn't take corneas from families we knew would open the eyelids,” Associated Press reported.

The Palestinian official said Israel will “soon be returning some of the organs,” Ma’an reported.
Last Update: Thursday, 14 November 2013 KSA 00:33 - GMT 21:33






Published on Aug 19, 2013
Tossavainen: Anti-Israelism and Anti-Semitism in Sweden
Dr. Mikael Tossavainen obtained his Ph.D. in history from Lund University, Sweden. Tossavainen's earlier research focused on anti-Semitism, historiography, and the connection between nationalism and religion. He was research director of the Post-Holocaust and Anti-Semitism Project at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. - See more at: http://jcpa.org/researcher/mikael-tos...



MATTI FRIEDMAN   08/19/09 01:24 PM ET   AP

JERUSALEM — Israel and the Swedish Embassy responded furiously Wednesday to a Swedish newspaper article that suggested Israeli troops killed Palestinians and harvested their organs.

The article published Monday in Aftonbladet, Sweden's largest circulation daily, implies a link between those charges and the recent arrest in the U.S. of an American Jew for illicit organ trafficking. Later the reporter told Israel Radio he did not know if the allegations were true




Doctor admits Israeli pathologists harvested organs without consent


Ian Black, Middle East editor
The Guardian, Monday 21 December 2009

Israel has admitted pathologists harvested organs from dead Palestinians, and others, without the consent of their families – a practice it said ended in the 1990s – it emerged at the weekend.

The admission, by the former head of the country's forensic institute, followed a furious row prompted by a Swedish newspaper reporting that Israel was killing Palestinians in order to use their organs – a charge that Israel denied and called "antisemitic".

The revelation, in a television documentary, is likely to generate anger in the Arab and Muslim world and reinforce sinister stereotypes of Israel and its attitude to Palestinians. Iran's state-run Press TV tonight reported the story, illustrated with photographs of dead or badly injured Palestinians.

Ahmed Tibi, an Israeli Arab MP, said the report incriminated the Israeli army.

The story emerged in an interview with Dr Yehuda Hiss, former head of the Abu Kabir forensic institute near Tel Aviv. The interview was conducted in 2000 by an American academic who released it because of the row between Israel and Sweden over a report in the Stockholm newspaper Aftonbladet.

Channel 2 TV reported that in the 1990s, specialists at Abu Kabir harvested skin, corneas, heart valves and bones from the bodies of Israeli soldiers, Israeli citizens, Palestinians and foreign workers, often without permission from relatives.

The Israeli military confirmed to the programme that the practice took place, but added: "This activity ended a decade ago and does not happen any longer."

Hiss said: "We started to harvest corneas ... whatever was done was highly informal. No permission was asked from the family."

However, there was no evidence that Israel had killed Palestinians to take their organs, as the Swedish paper reported. Aftonbladet quoted Palestinians as saying young men from the West Bank and Gaza Strip had been seized by the Israeli forces and their bodies returned to their families with missing organs. The interview with Hiss was released by Nancy Scheper-Hughes, professor of anthropology at the University of California-Berkeley who had conducted a study of Abu Kabir.

She was quoted by the Associated Press as saying that while Palestinians were "by a long shot" not the only ones affected, she felt the interview must be made public, because "the symbolism, you know, of taking skin of the population considered to be the enemy, [is] something, just in terms of its symbolic weight, that has to be reconsidered."

Israel demanded that Sweden condemn the Aftonbladet article, calling it an antisemitic "blood libel". Stockholm refused, saying that to so would violate freedom of speech in the country. The foreign minister then cancelled a visit to Israel, just as Sweden was taking over the EU's rotating presidency.

Hiss was removed from his post in 2004, when some details about organ harvesting were first reported, but he still works at the forensic institute.

Israel's health ministry said all harvesting was now done with permission. "The guidelines at that time were not clear," it said in a statement to Channel 2. "For the last 10 years, Abu Kabir has been working according to ethics and Jewish law."

• This article was amended on 21 December 2009. The headline was changed as it did not reflect accurately the contents of the story. Nancy Scheper-Hughes's name was misspelled as Nancy Sheppard-Hughes in the original text.



Actions that threaten Saudi Arabia’s unity

Published time: February 03, 2014 03:34

Actions that threaten Saudi Arabia’s unity, disturb public order, or defame the reputation of the state or the king – will be considered acts of terrorism under a new counterterrorism law which has come into force in the gulf kingdom.

The new legislature was ratified by King Abdullah on Sunday after being approved by the Cabinet in December, following the initial proposal by the Interior Ministry and advisory Shura Council.

It defines terrorism as “any act carried out by an offender … intended to disturb the public order…to shake the security of society… stability of the state… expose its national unity to danger… suspend the basic law of governance or some of its articles,” according to its text as cited by Human Rights Watch (HRW).

Terrorists can also be considered those individuals who “insult the reputation of the state or its position… inflict damage upon one of its public utilities or its natural resources,” or those who attempt to force “governmental authority to carry out or prevent it from carrying out an action, or to threaten to carry out acts that lead to the named purposes or incite [these acts].”

The legislation, made up of 40 clauses, allows the security forces to arrest and detain suspects for up to six months with the possibility to extend the confinement for another six months. Suspects are allowed to be held incommunicado for 90 days without the presence of their lawyer during the initial questioning.

Internet surveillance and phone tracking are also allowed under the new legislature, as well as the right for the security services to raid the homes of suspected terrorists, without prior approval from a judge. People suspected of financing terrorist activities could also be prosecuted.

The interior minister, rather than any judge, is empowered to suspend sentences or drop charges and release a person on trial.

When the legislature was approved in December, HRW lashed out against the Kingdom’s strive to limit freedom of speech and criticized the monarchy over its very vague definition of terrorism.

“Vague and overbroad legal provisions cannot be the basis for overriding a broad array of fundamental rights,” HRW said in a statement in December. “Saudi Arabia’s denial of the rights to participate in public affairs, and freedom of religion, peaceful assembly, association, and expression, as well as its systematic discrimination against women greatly exceed any notion of justifiable restrictions.”

Activists are worried that the law will first of all be applied to silence the liberal opposition in the country. Saudi activist Abdulaziz Al Shubaily from the Saudi Association for Civil and Political Rights (HASEM) described the law as a “catastrophe”.

“If I call for the release of someone from jail for being held longer than their sentence, I can be tried for “asking the state to take action,” Shubaily said. “When I call for a constitutional monarchy, I can now be charged with terrorism.”

“They characterize you as a terrorist because you ask the kingdom to do something it does not want to do,” he added.

HRW researcher Adam Coogle said, that the new law is “draconian in spirit and letter, and there is every reason to fear that the authorities will easily and eagerly use it against peaceful dissidents.”

Saudi women who are seen driving can now be accused of disturbing public order for defying a driving ban imposed on females and face punishment under a new law. In October last year, several images emerged online of women getting in cars and going around the city as part of a unified protest.


Edited time: November 05, 2013 08:14

A Kuwaiti woman was arrested in Saudi Arabia for driving a car while taking her diabetic father to the hospital. The arrest comes just one week after Saudi women protested the driving ban in the conservative Gulf monarchy.

The woman was driving a Chevrolet Epica with her father in the passenger seat when she was pulled over in an area located near the border with Kuwait, Saudi police told Kuwait Times newspaper.

She explained that she was taking her sick father to the hospital, but officers were unsympathetic. The woman was detained and is now being held in custody pending an investigation, police said.

The media report provided no information on whether her sick father made it to the hospital.

There are close ties between Kuwaitis and Saudis in the area, with people from both countries crossing the border on a regular basis.

However, Kuwait has surged ahead in terms of female rights. Women in the country are allowed to drive, vote, and run for political office.

In Saudi Arabia, attempted reforms from King Abdullah often face resistance from the country’s senior clergy.

Saudi woman are not allowed to drive cars, travel abroad, open a bank account, or work without permission from a male relative.

Last Saturday, a protest took place against the driving ban, which resulted in 16 female drivers being stopped by police. They were fined 300 riyals (US$80) each and forced along with their male guardians to pledge to obey the kingdom’s laws.

Activists said that more than 60 Saudi women got behind the wheel to protest the driving ban.


A court in Saudi Arabia has sentenced a woman to 10 lashes for breaking the country’s ban on female drivers.
The woman, identified only as Shema, was found guilty of driving in Jeddah in July.
Women2drive, which campaigns for women to be allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia, says she has already lodged an appeal.
In recent months, scores of women have driven vehicles in Saudi cities in an effort to put pressure on the monarchy to change the law.
The sentence comes two days after the Saudi leader King Abdullah announced women would be allowed to vote for the first time in 2015.
Two other women are due to appear in court later this year on similar charges, correspondents say.
Published time: February 03, 2014 03:34

Actions that threaten Saudi Arabia’s unity, disturb public order, or defame the reputation of the state or the king – will be considered acts of terrorism under a new counterterrorism law which has come into force in the gulf kingdom.

The new legislature was ratified by King Abdullah on Sunday after being approved by the Cabinet in December, following the initial proposal by the Interior Ministry and advisory Shura Council.

It defines terrorism as “any act carried out by an offender … intended to disturb the public order…to shake the security of society… stability of the state… expose its national unity to danger… suspend the basic law of governance or some of its articles,” according to its text as cited by Human Rights Watch (HRW).

Terrorists can also be considered those individuals who “insult the reputation of the state or its position… inflict damage upon one of its public utilities or its natural resources,” or those who attempt to force “governmental authority to carry out or prevent it from carrying out an action, or to threaten to carry out acts that lead to the named purposes or incite [these acts].”

The legislation, made up of 40 clauses, allows the security forces to arrest and detain suspects for up to six months with the possibility to extend the confinement for another six months. Suspects are allowed to be held incommunicado for 90 days without the presence of their lawyer during the initial questioning.

Internet surveillance and phone tracking are also allowed under the new legislature, as well as the right for the security services to raid the homes of suspected terrorists, without prior approval from a judge. People suspected of financing terrorist activities could also be prosecuted.

The interior minister, rather than any judge, is empowered to suspend sentences or drop charges and release a person on trial.

When the legislature was approved in December, HRW lashed out against the Kingdom’s strive to limit freedom of speech and criticized the monarchy over its very vague definition of terrorism.

“Vague and overbroad legal provisions cannot be the basis for overriding a broad array of fundamental rights,” HRW said in a statement in December. “Saudi Arabia’s denial of the rights to participate in public affairs, and freedom of religion, peaceful assembly, association, and expression, as well as its systematic discrimination against women greatly exceed any notion of justifiable restrictions.”

Activists are worried that the law will first of all be applied to silence the liberal opposition in the country. Saudi activist Abdulaziz Al Shubaily from the Saudi Association for Civil and Political Rights (HASEM) described the law as a “catastrophe”.

“If I call for the release of someone from jail for being held longer than their sentence, I can be tried for “asking the state to take action,” Shubaily said. “When I call for a constitutional monarchy, I can now be charged with terrorism.”

“They characterize you as a terrorist because you ask the kingdom to do something it does not want to do,” he added.

HRW researcher Adam Coogle said, that the new law is “draconian in spirit and letter, and there is every reason to fear that the authorities will easily and eagerly use it against peaceful dissidents.”

Saudi women who are seen driving can now be accused of disturbing public order for defying a driving ban imposed on females and face punishment under a new law. In October last year, several images emerged online of women getting in cars and going around the city as part of a unified protest.



Edited time: November 05, 2013 08:14

A Kuwaiti woman was arrested in Saudi Arabia for driving a car while taking her diabetic father to the hospital. The arrest comes just one week after Saudi women protested the driving ban in the conservative Gulf monarchy.



The woman was driving a Chevrolet Epica with her father in the passenger seat when she was pulled over in an area located near the border with Kuwait, Saudi police told Kuwait Times newspaper.

She explained that she was taking her sick father to the hospital, but officers were unsympathetic. The woman was detained and is now being held in custody pending an investigation, police said.

The media report provided no information on whether her sick father made it to the hospital.

There are close ties between Kuwaitis and Saudis in the area, with people from both countries crossing the border on a regular basis.

However, Kuwait has surged ahead in terms of female rights. Women in the country are allowed to drive, vote, and run for political office.

In Saudi Arabia, attempted reforms from King Abdullah often face resistance from the country’s senior clergy.

Saudi woman are not allowed to drive cars, travel abroad, open a bank account, or work without permission from a male relative.

Last Saturday, a protest took place against the driving ban, which resulted in 16 female drivers being stopped by police. They were fined 300 riyals (US$80) each and forced along with their male guardians to pledge to obey the kingdom’s laws.

Activists said that more than 60 Saudi women got behind the wheel to protest the driving ban.




A court in Saudi Arabia has sentenced a woman to 10 lashes for breaking the country's ban on female drivers.
The woman, identified only as Shema, was found guilty of driving in Jeddah in July.
Women2drive, which campaigns for women to be allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia, says she has already lodged an appeal.
In recent months, scores of women have driven vehicles in Saudi cities in an effort to put pressure on the monarchy to change the law.
The sentence comes two days after the Saudi leader King Abdullah announced women would be allowed to vote for the first time in 2015.
Two other women are due to appear in court later this year on similar charges, correspondents say.

NSA Freedom of Information Act and Privacy Act Office

Published time: November 18, 2013 17:37

The number of Freedom of Information Act requests filed with the National Security Agency has increased by 888 percent this fiscal year, according to USA Today, indicating an even broader interest exists in the NSA’s domestic surveillance programs.

The newspaper reported on Monday that the amount of FOIA requests received by the NSA has surged exponentially in recent months, particularly after former contractor-turned-leaker Edward Snowden began releasing classified internal documents in June detailing the agency’s lesser-known intelligence gathering operations.

“Fueled by the Edward Snowden scandal, more Americans than ever are asking the National Security Agency if their personal life is being spied on,” Yamiche Alcindor wrote for USA Today.

Indeed, the thousands of FOIA requests filed by Americans since June far outnumber the mere hundreds that it received annually in previous years.

According to Alcindor, the NSA only received 257 FOIA requests during the last fiscal year. Shortly after the first Snowden leak appeared on June 6, however, the agency became flooded with 1,302 requests almost immediately. During the following three months, the paper reported, the NSA received 2,538 requests, the likes of which have inundated the government staffers tasked with responding for the open records requests.

Pamela Phillips, the chief of the NSA Freedom of Information Act and Privacy Act Office, told the paper that «This was the largest spike we’ve ever had.»

«We’ve had requests from individuals who want any records we have on their phone calls, their phone numbers, their e-mail addresses, their IP addresses, anything like that,” Phillips said.

Unfortunately for those thousands of Americans, however, the NSA isn’t being all that helpful. Even though the NSA is experiencing thousands of similar requests from Americans wanting to know if and how they’ve been targeted, the agency has been responding by refusing to admit what kind of intelligence, if any, it’s collected.

Thirty-five-year-old Joel Watts of West Virginia told the paper that he sent a request but was told in response that the NSA couldn’t say if they had any information on him.

«It’s a sign of disrespect to American citizens and the democratic process,” Watts, a health and safety administrator, told the paper. «I should have the right to know if I’m being surveyed if there’s no criminal procedures in process.»

That isn’t to say that the NSA is only now refusing to honor those requests, however. In August, Kevin Collier wrote for The Daily Dot that he filed a FOIA request with the agency for information on himself and was given a nearly identical response. Collier was quick to file a request shortly after Mr. Snowden first revealed proof of the NSA’s ever-expanding spy apparatus in June, only to be told by the NSA several weeks later that details about the agency’s programs cannot be discussed publically in order “to prevent harm to the national security of the United States.»

«[Y]our request is denied because the fact of the existence or non-existence of responsive records is a currently and properly classified matter,» the agency wrote him.

«Our adversaries are likely to evaluate all public responses related to these programs,» the NSA said at the time to Collier. «Were we to provide positive or negative responses to requests such as yours, our adversaries’ compilation of the information provided would reasonably be expected to cause exceptionally grave damage to the national security.»

Months later, the NSA is apparently still giving concerned Americans the same runaround.

«We know we’re dealing with frustrated people and people who are upset by what they’re hearing,» Phillips explained to USA Today, «But that’s the only response that we’re able to provide them on that topic.»

«People are legitimately troubled by the idea that the government is monitoring and collecting information about their e-mail traffic, phone calls and who knows what else,» chimed in Anne Weismann, a chief counsel at Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. «There is a growing sense of horror every time there is a new report about the data.»


It’s outrageous and profoundly chilling. British authorities detained the partner of Glenn Greenwald, the journalist who broke the NSA spying scandal by publishing documents from the whistleblower Edward Snowden in the UK’s Guardian newspaper.
David Miranda was flying to the home he shares in Brazil with journalist Glenn Greenwald after visiting Laura Poitras in Berlin. Poitras, an American filmmaker, has been working with Greenwald to produce reporting on the NSA’s secret domestic spying programs. He was carrying flash drives containing documents that were part of the investigative reporting by Greenwald and Poitras.1
Normally British authorities need probable cause to detain someone for hours at Heathrow airport in London, deny them access to an attorney and confiscate their belongings. But not if they say you are suspected of being involved in terrorism.
That’s just what happened to Miranda. He was detained under Schedule 7 of the British Terrorism Act and held for nearly nine hours — the maximum allowed without levying charges. When anti-terrorism powers are invoked, Schedule 7 allows British authorities to stop and search anyone without warrant or reasonable suspicion. Miranda was eventually released but his cellphone, flash drives and computers were confiscated.
Tell the UK: Journalists are not terrorists. Detaining their family members is unacceptable. Click here to automatically sign the petition.
Said Greenwald in reaction, «This is obviously a rather profound escalation of their attacks on the news-gathering process and journalism. It’s bad enough to prosecute and imprison sources. It’s worse still to imprison journalists who report the truth. But to start detaining the family members and loved ones of journalists is simply despotic.»2
The New York Times reports that Miranda was carrying as of yet unpublished documents from the Snowden trove of NSA evidence from Poitras back to Greenwald. He was clearly not targeted because he was a suspected terrorist — but rather because he was linked to investigative journalists working to expose the unconstitutional spying programs at NSA. But he was detained under a law intended to stop terrorism — a law that permits authorities to deny him access to a lawyer and take his possessions without a court order.
In the wake of the incident, Amnesty International charged, «It is utterly improbable that David Michael Miranda, a Brazilian national transiting through London, was detained at random, given the role his partner has played in revealing the truth about the unlawful nature of NSA surveillance… The only possible intent behind this detention was to harass him and his partner, Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald, for his role in analyzing the data released by Edward Snowden.»3
Tell the UK: Journalists are not terrorists. Stop the war on journalists. Click here to automatically sign the petition.
This is not an isolated incident. There is an escalating war on journalists and whistleblowers in the U.S. who are increasingly threatened with prosecution by the current administration for investigating the executive branch. 4 And now the British authorities are taking a leading role by using anti-terror laws to suppress the exercise of a free press.
The uncovering of a far-reaching domestic spy operation only underscores the need for a strong and independent press to help expose abuses of power at the highest levels of our government and give the public the information we need to hold our government accountable to the Constitution.
It should never be allowed in a democracy to use the security apparatus to intimidate and harass a journalist investigating government abuse. And the UK’s targeting of a journalist’s spouse under the guise of an anti-terrorism investigation is clearly an escalation of the security state’s war on journalism.
Americans need to send a direct message to British officials who may be acting in coordination with U.S. military and intelligence agencies that this is unacceptable. We’ll deliver your signatures directly to Sir Peter Westmacott, the British Ambassador to the U.S., Philip Barton, Deputy Head of Mission to the U.S., and Major General Buster Howes, the Defence Attache to the U.S. at the British embassy in Washington, DC.
Thank you for standing up for a free and independent press.
Becky Bond, Politcal Director
CREDO Action from Working Assets


Edward Snowden, 29, is described by the paper as an ex-CIA technical assistant, currently employed by defence contractor Booz Allen Hamilton.

The Guardian said his identity was being revealed at his own request.

The recent revelations are that US agencies gathered millions of phone records and monitored internet data.

A spokesman for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence said the matter had now been referred to the Department of Justice as a criminal matter.

In a statement, Booz Allen Hamilton confirmed Mr Snowden had been an employee for less than three months.

«If accurate, this action represents a grave violation of the code of conduct and core values of our firm,» the statement said.


The US National Security Agency (NSA) is collecting the telephone records of tens of millions of Americans, according to the Guardian newspaper.

The newspaper published what it said was a secret court order directing the Verizon company to hand over data on its customers on an «ongoing» basis.

Civil liberties groups said the details of the report were «stunning».

The White House broadly defended the practice as a «critical» security tool but did not confirm the report.

US authorities need the information to protect the nation from terrorist threats, a senior Obama administration official told the BBC.



Published time: November 18, 2013 17:37
The number of Freedom of Information Act requests filed with the National Security Agency has increased by 888 percent this fiscal year, according to USA Today, indicating an even broader interest exists in the NSA’s domestic surveillance programs.



The newspaper reported on Monday that the amount of FOIA requests received by the NSA has surged exponentially in recent months, particularly after former contractor-turned-leaker Edward Snowden began releasing classified internal documents in June detailing the agency’s lesser-known intelligence gathering operations.

“Fueled by the Edward Snowden scandal, more Americans than ever are asking the National Security Agency if their personal life is being spied on,” Yamiche Alcindor wrote for USA Today.

Indeed, the thousands of FOIA requests filed by Americans since June far outnumber the mere hundreds that it received annually in previous years.

According to Alcindor, the NSA only received 257 FOIA requests during the last fiscal year. Shortly after the first Snowden leak appeared on June 6, however, the agency became flooded with 1,302 requests almost immediately. During the following three months, the paper reported, the NSA received 2,538 requests, the likes of which have inundated the government staffers tasked with responding for the open records requests.

Pamela Phillips, the chief of the NSA Freedom of Information Act and Privacy Act Office, told the paper that "This was the largest spike we've ever had."

"We've had requests from individuals who want any records we have on their phone calls, their phone numbers, their e-mail addresses, their IP addresses, anything like that,” Phillips said.

Unfortunately for those thousands of Americans, however, the NSA isn’t being all that helpful. Even though the NSA is experiencing thousands of similar requests from Americans wanting to know if and how they’ve been targeted, the agency has been responding by refusing to admit what kind of intelligence, if any, it’s collected.

Thirty-five-year-old Joel Watts of West Virginia told the paper that he sent a request but was told in response that the NSA couldn’t say if they had any information on him.

"It's a sign of disrespect to American citizens and the democratic process,” Watts, a health and safety administrator, told the paper. "I should have the right to know if I'm being surveyed if there's no criminal procedures in process."

That isn’t to say that the NSA is only now refusing to honor those requests, however. In August, Kevin Collier wrote for The Daily Dot that he filed a FOIA request with the agency for information on himself and was given a nearly identical response. Collier was quick to file a request shortly after Mr. Snowden first revealed proof of the NSA’s ever-expanding spy apparatus in June, only to be told by the NSA several weeks later that details about the agency’s programs cannot be discussed publically in order “to prevent harm to the national security of the United States."

"[Y]our request is denied because the fact of the existence or non-existence of responsive records is a currently and properly classified matter," the agency wrote him.

"Our adversaries are likely to evaluate all public responses related to these programs," the NSA said at the time to Collier. "Were we to provide positive or negative responses to requests such as yours, our adversaries' compilation of the information provided would reasonably be expected to cause exceptionally grave damage to the national security."

Months later, the NSA is apparently still giving concerned Americans the same runaround.

"We know we're dealing with frustrated people and people who are upset by what they're hearing," Phillips explained to USA Today, "But that's the only response that we're able to provide them on that topic."

"People are legitimately troubled by the idea that the government is monitoring and collecting information about their e-mail traffic, phone calls and who knows what else," chimed in Anne Weismann, a chief counsel at Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. "There is a growing sense of horror every time there is a new report about the data."


It's outrageous and profoundly chilling. British authorities detained the partner of Glenn Greenwald, the journalist who broke the NSA spying scandal by publishing documents from the whistleblower Edward Snowden in the UK's Guardian newspaper.
David Miranda was flying to the home he shares in Brazil with journalist Glenn Greenwald after visiting Laura Poitras in Berlin. Poitras, an American filmmaker, has been working with Greenwald to produce reporting on the NSA's secret domestic spying programs. He was carrying flash drives containing documents that were part of the investigative reporting by Greenwald and Poitras.1
Normally British authorities need probable cause to detain someone for hours at Heathrow airport in London, deny them access to an attorney and confiscate their belongings. But not if they say you are suspected of being involved in terrorism.
That's just what happened to Miranda. He was detained under Schedule 7 of the British Terrorism Act and held for nearly nine hours -- the maximum allowed without levying charges. When anti-terrorism powers are invoked, Schedule 7 allows British authorities to stop and search anyone without warrant or reasonable suspicion. Miranda was eventually released but his cellphone, flash drives and computers were confiscated.
Tell the UK: Journalists are not terrorists. Detaining their family members is unacceptable. Click here to automatically sign the petition.
Said Greenwald in reaction, "This is obviously a rather profound escalation of their attacks on the news-gathering process and journalism. It's bad enough to prosecute and imprison sources. It's worse still to imprison journalists who report the truth. But to start detaining the family members and loved ones of journalists is simply despotic."2
The New York Times reports that Miranda was carrying as of yet unpublished documents from the Snowden trove of NSA evidence from Poitras back to Greenwald. He was clearly not targeted because he was a suspected terrorist -- but rather because he was linked to investigative journalists working to expose the unconstitutional spying programs at NSA. But he was detained under a law intended to stop terrorism -- a law that permits authorities to deny him access to a lawyer and take his possessions without a court order.
In the wake of the incident, Amnesty International charged, "It is utterly improbable that David Michael Miranda, a Brazilian national transiting through London, was detained at random, given the role his partner has played in revealing the truth about the unlawful nature of NSA surveillance… The only possible intent behind this detention was to harass him and his partner, Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald, for his role in analyzing the data released by Edward Snowden."3
Tell the UK: Journalists are not terrorists. Stop the war on journalists. Click here to automatically sign the petition.
This is not an isolated incident. There is an escalating war on journalists and whistleblowers in the U.S. who are increasingly threatened with prosecution by the current administration for investigating the executive branch. 4 And now the British authorities are taking a leading role by using anti-terror laws to suppress the exercise of a free press.
The uncovering of a far-reaching domestic spy operation only underscores the need for a strong and independent press to help expose abuses of power at the highest levels of our government and give the public the information we need to hold our government accountable to the Constitution.
It should never be allowed in a democracy to use the security apparatus to intimidate and harass a journalist investigating government abuse. And the UK's targeting of a journalist's spouse under the guise of an anti-terrorism investigation is clearly an escalation of the security state's war on journalism.
Americans need to send a direct message to British officials who may be acting in coordination with U.S. military and intelligence agencies that this is unacceptable. We'll deliver your signatures directly to Sir Peter Westmacott, the British Ambassador to the U.S., Philip Barton, Deputy Head of Mission to the U.S., and Major General Buster Howes, the Defence Attache to the U.S. at the British embassy in Washington, DC.
Thank you for standing up for a free and independent press.
Becky Bond, Politcal Director
CREDO Action from Working Assets





Edward Snowden, 29, is described by the paper as an ex-CIA technical assistant, currently employed by defence contractor Booz Allen Hamilton.

The Guardian said his identity was being revealed at his own request.

The recent revelations are that US agencies gathered millions of phone records and monitored internet data.

A spokesman for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence said the matter had now been referred to the Department of Justice as a criminal matter.

In a statement, Booz Allen Hamilton confirmed Mr Snowden had been an employee for less than three months.
"If accurate, this action represents a grave violation of the code of conduct and core values of our firm," the statement said.




The US National Security Agency (NSA) is collecting the telephone records of tens of millions of Americans, according to the Guardian newspaper.

The newspaper published what it said was a secret court order directing the Verizon company to hand over data on its customers on an "ongoing" basis.

Civil liberties groups said the details of the report were "stunning".

The White House broadly defended the practice as a "critical" security tool but did not confirm the report.

US authorities need the information to protect the nation from terrorist threats, a senior Obama administration official told the BBC.

Resistance to Civil Government

Henry David Thoreau

On the Duty of Civil Disobedience

[1849, original title: Resistance to Civil Government]

I heartily accept the motto, «That government is best which governs least»; and I should like to see it acted up to more rapidly and systematically. Carried out, it finally amounts to this, which also I believe — «That government is best which governs not at all»; and when men are prepared for it, that will be the kind of government which the will have. Government is at best but an expedient; but most governments are usually, and all governments are sometimes, inexpedient. The objections which have been brought against a standing army, and they are many and weighty, and deserve to prevail, may also at last be brought against a standing government. The standing army is only an arm of the standing government. The government itself, which is only the mode which the people have chosen to execute their will, is equally liable to be abused and perverted before the people can act through it. Witness the present Mexican war, the work of comparatively a few individuals using the standing government as their tool; for in the outset, the people would not have consented to this measure.

This American government — what is it but a tradition, though a recent one, endeavoring to transmit itself unimpaired to posterity, but each instant losing some of its integrity? It has not the vitality and force of a single living man; for a single man can bend it to his will. It is a sort of wooden gun to the people themselves. But it is not the less necessary for this; for the people must have some complicated machinery or other, and hear its din, to satisfy that idea of government which they have. Governments show thus how successfully men can be imposed upon, even impose on themselves, for their own advantage. It is excellent, we must all allow. Yet this government never of itself furthered any enterprise, but by the alacrity with which it got out of its way. It does not keep the country free. It does not settle the West. It does not educate. The character inherent in the American people has done all that has been accomplished; and it would have done somewhat more, if the government had not sometimes got in its way. For government is an expedient, by which men would fain succeed in letting one another alone; and, as has been said, when it is most expedient, the governed are most let alone by it. Trade and commerce, if they were not made of india-rubber, would never manage to bounce over obstacles which legislators are continually putting in their way; and if one were to judge these men wholly by the effects of their actions and not partly by their intentions, they would deserve to be classed and punished with those mischievious persons who put obstructions on the railroads.

But, to speak practically and as a citizen, unlike those who call themselves no-government men, I ask for, not at one no government, but at once a better government. Let every man make known what kind of government would command his respect, and that will be one step toward obtaining it.

After all, the practical reason why, when the power is once in the hands of the people, a majority are permitted, and for a long period continue, to rule is not because they are most likely to be in the right, nor because this seems fairest to the minority, but because they are physically the strongest. But a government in which the majority rule in all cases can not be based on justice, even as far as men understand it. Can there not be a government in which the majorities do not virtually decide right and wrong, but conscience? — in which majorities decide only those questions to which the rule of expediency is applicable? Must the citizen ever for a moment, or in the least degree, resign his conscience to the legislator? Why has every man a conscience then? I think that we should be men first, and subjects afterward. It is not desirable to cultivate a respect for the law, so much as for the right. The only obligation which I have a right to assume is to do at any time what I think right. It is truly enough said that a corporation has no conscience; but a corporation on conscientious men is a corporation with a conscience. Law never made men a whit more just; and, by means of their respect for it, even the well-disposed are daily made the agents on injustice. A common and natural result of an undue respect for the law is, that you may see a file of soldiers, colonel, captain, corporal, privates, powder-monkeys, and all, marching in admirable order over hill and dale to the wars, against their wills, ay, against their common sense and consciences, which makes it very steep marching indeed, and produces a palpitation of the heart. They have no doubt that it is a damnable business in which they are concerned; they are all peaceably inclined. Now, what are they? Men at all? or small movable forts and magazines, at the service of some unscrupulous man in power? Visit the Navy Yard, and behold a marine, such a man as an American government can make, or such as it can make a man with its black arts — a mere shadow and reminiscence of humanity, a man laid out alive and standing, and already, as one may say, buried under arms with funeral accompaniment, though it may be,

«Not a drum was heard, not a funeral note,
As his corse to the rampart we hurried;

Not a soldier discharged his farewell shot
O’er the grave where out hero was buried.»

The mass of men serve the state thus, not as men mainly, but as machines, with their bodies. They are the standing army, and the militia, jailers, constables, posse comitatus, etc. In most cases there is no free exercise whatever of the judgement or of the moral sense; but they put themselves on a level with wood and earth and stones; and wooden men can perhaps be manufactured that will serve the purpose as well. Such command no more respect than men of straw or a lump of dirt. They have the same sort of worth only as horses and dogs. Yet such as these even are commonly esteemed good citizens. Others — as most legislators, politicians, lawyers, ministers, and office-holders — serve the state chiefly with their heads; and, as the rarely make any moral distinctions, they are as likely to serve the devil, without intending it, as God. A very few — as heroes, patriots, martyrs, reformers in the great sense, and men — serve the state with their consciences also, and so necessarily resist it for the most part; and they are commonly treated as enemies by it. A wise man will only be useful as a man, and will not submit to be «clay,» and «stop a hole to keep the wind away,» but leave that office to his dust at least:

«I am too high born to be propertied,
To be a second at control,
Or useful serving-man and instrument
To any sovereign state throughout the world.»

He who gives himself entirely to his fellow men appears to them useless and selfish; but he who gives himself partially to them in pronounced a benefactor and philanthropist.

How does it become a man to behave toward the American government today? I answer, that he cannot without disgrace be associated with it. I cannot for an instant recognize that political organization as my government which is the slave’s government also.

All men recognize the right of revolution; that is, the right to refuse allegiance to, and to resist, the government, when its tyranny or its inefficiency are great and unendurable. But almost all say that such is not the case now. But such was the case, they think, in the Revolution of ’75. If one were to tell me that this was a bad government because it taxed certain foreign commodities brought to its ports, it is most probable that I should not make an ado about it, for I can do without them. All machines have their friction; and possibly this does enough good to counter-balance the evil. At any rate, it is a great evil to make a stir about it. But when the friction comes to have its machine, and oppression and robbery are organized, I say, let us not have such a machine any longer. In other words, when a sixth of the population of a nation which has undertaken to be the refuge of liberty are slaves, and a whole country is unjustly overrun and conquered by a foreign army, and subjected to military law, I think that it is not too soon for honest men to rebel and revolutionize. What makes this duty the more urgent is that fact that the country so overrun is not our own, but ours is the invading army.

Paley, a common authority with many on moral questions, in his chapter on the «Duty of Submission to Civil Government,» resolves all civil obligation into expediency; and he proceeds to say that «so long as the interest of the whole society requires it, that it, so long as the established government cannot be resisted or changed without public inconveniencey, it is the will of God… that the established government be obeyed — and no longer. This principle being admitted, the justice of every particular case of resistance is reduced to a computation of the quantity of the danger and grievance on the one side, and of the probability and expense of redressing it on the other.» Of this, he says, every man shall judge for himself. But Paley appears never to have contemplated those cases to which the rule of expediency does not apply, in which a people, as well and an individual, must do justice, cost what it may. If I have unjustly wrested a plank from a drowning man, I must restore it to him though I drown myself. This, according to Paley, would be inconvenient. But he that would save his life, in such a case, shall lose it. This people must cease to hold slaves, and to make war on Mexico, though it cost them their existence as a people.

In their practice, nations agree with Paley; but does anyone think that Massachusetts does exactly what is right at the present crisis?

«A drab of stat,
a cloth-o’-silver slut,

To have her train borne up,
and her soul trail in the dirt.»

Practically speaking, the opponents to a reform in Massachusetts are not a hundred thousand politicians at the South, but a hundred thousand merchants and farmers here, who are more interested in commerce and agriculture than they are in humanity, and are not prepared to do justice to the slave and to Mexico, cost what it may. I quarrel not with far-off foes, but with those who, neat at home, co-operate with, and do the bidding of, those far away, and without whom the latter would be harmless. We are accustomed to say, that the mass of men are unprepared; but improvement is slow, because the few are not as materially wiser or better than the many. It is not so important that many should be good as you, as that there be some absolute goodness somewhere; for that will leaven the whole lump. There are thousands who are in opinion opposed to slavery and to the war, who yet in effect do nothing to put an end to them; who, esteeming themselves children of Washington and Franklin, sit down with their hands in their pockets, and say that they know not what to do, and do nothing; who even postpone the question of freedom to the question of free trade, and quietly read the prices-current along with the latest advices from Mexico, after dinner, and, it may be, fall asleep over them both. What is the price-current of an honest man and patriot today? They hesitate, and they regret, and sometimes they petition; but they do nothing in earnest and with effect. They will wait, well disposed, for other to remedy the evil, that they may no longer have it to regret. At most, they give up only a cheap vote, and a feeble countenance and Godspeed, to the right, as it goes by them. There are nine hundred and ninety-nine patrons of virtue to one virtuous man. But it is easier to deal with the real possessor of a thing than with the temporary guardian of it.

All voting is a sort of gaming, like checkers or backgammon, with a slight moral tinge to it, a playing with right and wrong, with moral questions; and betting naturally accompanies it. The character of the voters is not staked. I cast my vote, perchance, as I think right; but I am not vitally concerned that that right should prevail. I am willing to leave it to the majority. Its obligation, therefore, never exceeds that of expediency. Even voting for the right is doing nothing for it. It is only expressing to men feebly your desire that it should prevail. A wise man will not leave the right to the mercy of chance, nor wish it to prevail through the power of the majority. There is but little virtue in the action of masses of men. When the majority shall at length vote for the abolition of slavery, it will be because they are indifferent to slavery, or because there is but little slavery left to be abolished by their vote. They will then be the only slaves. Only his vote can hasten the abolition of slavery who asserts his own freedom by his vote.

I hear of a convention to be held at Baltimore, or elsewhere, for the selection of a candidate for the Presidency, made up chiefly of editors, and men who are politicians by profession; but I think, what is it to any independent, intelligent, and respectable man what decision they may come to? Shall we not have the advantage of this wisdom and honesty, nevertheless? Can we not count upon some independent votes? Are there not many individuals in the country who do not attend conventions? But no: I find that the respectable man, so called, has immediately drifted from his position, and despairs of his country, when his country has more reasons to despair of him. He forthwith adopts one of the candidates thus selected as the only available one, thus proving that he is himself available for any purposes of the demagogue. His vote is of no more worth than that of any unprincipled foreigner or hireling native, who may have been bought. O for a man who is a man, and, and my neighbor says, has a bone is his back which you cannot pass your hand through! Our statistics are at fault: the population has been returned too large. How many men are there to a square thousand miles in the country? Hardly one. Does not America offer any inducement for men to settle here? The American has dwindled into an Odd Fellow — one who may be known by the development of his organ of gregariousness, and a manifest lack of intellect and cheerful self-reliance; whose first and chief concern, on coming into the world, is to see that the almshouses are in good repair; and, before yet he has lawfully donned the virile garb, to collect a fund to the support of the widows and orphans that may be; who, in short, ventures to live only by the aid of the Mutual Insurance company, which has promised to bury him decently.

It is not a man’s duty, as a matter of course, to devote himself to the eradication of any, even to most enormous, wrong; he may still properly have other concerns to engage him; but it is his duty, at least, to wash his hands of it, and, if he gives it no thought longer, not to give it practically his support. If I devote myself to other pursuits and contemplations, I must first see, at least, that I do not pursue them sitting upon another man’s shoulders. I must get off him first, that he may pursue his contemplations too. See what gross inconsistency is tolerated. I have heard some of my townsmen say, «I should like to have them order me out to help put down an insurrection of the slaves, or to march to Mexico — see if I would go»; and yet these very men have each, directly by their allegiance, and so indirectly, at least, by their money, furnished a substitute. The soldier is applauded who refuses to serve in an unjust war by those who do not refuse to sustain the unjust government which makes the war; is applauded by those whose own act and authority he disregards and sets at naught; as if the state were penitent to that degree that it hired one to scourge it while it sinned, but not to that degree that it left off sinning for a moment. Thus, under the name of Order and Civil Government, we are all made at last to pay homage to and support our own meanness. After the first blush of sin comes its indifference; and from immoral it becomes, as it were, unmoral, and not quite unnecessary to that life which we have made.

The broadest and most prevalent error requires the most disinterested virtue to sustain it. The slight reproach to which the virtue of patriotism is commonly liable, the noble are most likely to incur. Those who, while they disapprove of the character and measures of a government, yield to it their allegiance and support are undoubtedly its most conscientious supporters, and so frequently the most serious obstacles to reform. Some are petitioning the State to dissolve the Union, to disregard the requisitions of the President. Why do they not dissolve it themselves — the union between themselves and the State — and refuse to pay their quota into its treasury? Do not they stand in same relation to the State that the State does to the Union? And have not the same reasons prevented the State from resisting the Union which have prevented them from resisting the State?

How can a man be satisfied to entertain and opinion merely, and enjoy it? Is there any enjoyment in it, if his opinion is that he is aggrieved? If you are cheated out of a single dollar by your neighbor, you do not rest satisfied with knowing you are cheated, or with saying that you are cheated, or even with petitioning him to pay you your due; but you take effectual steps at once to obtain the full amount, and see to it that you are never cheated again. Action from principle, the perception and the performance of right, changes things and relations; it is essentially revolutionary, and does not consist wholly with anything which was. It not only divided States and churches, it divides families; ay, it divides the individual, separating the diabolical in him from the divine.

Unjust laws exist: shall we be content to obey them, or shall we endeavor to amend them, and obey them until we have succeeded, or shall we transgress them at once? Men, generally, under such a government as this, think that they ought to wait until they have persuaded the majority to alter them. They think that, if they should resist, the remedy would be worse than the evil. But it is the fault of the government itself that the remedy is worse than the evil. It makes it worse. Why is it not more apt to anticipate and provide for reform? Why does it not cherish its wise minority? Why does it cry and resist before it is hurt? Why does it not encourage its citizens to put out its faults, and do better than it would have them? Why does it always crucify Christ and excommunicate Copernicus and Luther, and pronounce Washington and Franklin rebels?

One would think, that a deliberate and practical denial of its authority was the only offense never contemplated by its government; else, why has it not assigned its definite, its suitable and proportionate, penalty? If a man who has no property refuses but once to earn nine shillings for the State, he is put in prison for a period unlimited by any law that I know, and determined only by the discretion of those who put him there; but if he should steal ninety times nine shillings from the State, he is soon permitted to go at large again.

If the injustice is part of the necessary friction of the machine of government, let it go, let it go: perchance it will wear smooth — certainly the machine will wear out. If the injustice has a spring, or a pulley, or a rope, or a crank, exclusively for itself, then perhaps you may consider whether the remedy will not be worse than the evil; but if it is of such a nature that it requires you to be the agent of injustice to another, then I say, break the law. Let your life be a counter-friction to stop the machine. What I have to do is to see, at any rate, that I do not lend myself to the wrong which I condemn.

As for adopting the ways of the State has provided for remedying the evil, I know not of such ways. They take too much time, and a man’s life will be gone. I have other affairs to attend to. I came into this world, not chiefly to make this a good place to live in, but to live in it, be it good or bad. A man has not everything to do, but something; and because he cannot do everything, it is not necessary that he should be petitioning the Governor or the Legislature any more than it is theirs to petition me; and if they should not hear my petition, what should I do then? But in this case the State has provided no way: its very Constitution is the evil. This may seem to be harsh and stubborn and unconcilliatory; but it is to treat with the utmost kindness and consideration the only spirit that can appreciate or deserves it. So is all change for the better, like birth and death, which convulse the body.

I do not hesitate to say, that those who call themselves Abolitionists should at once effectually withdraw their support, both in person and property, from the government of Massachusetts, and not wait till they constitute a majority of one, before they suffer the right to prevail through them. I think that it is enough if they have God on their side, without waiting for that other one. Moreover, any man more right than his neighbors constitutes a majority of one already.

I meet this American government, or its representative, the State government, directly, and face to face, once a year — no more — in the person of its tax-gatherer; this is the only mode in which a man situated as I am necessarily meets it; and it then says distinctly, Recognize me; and the simplest, the most effectual, and, in the present posture of affairs, the indispensablest mode of treating with it on this head, of expressing your little satisfaction with and love for it, is to deny it then. My civil neighbor, the tax-gatherer, is the very man I have to deal with — for it is, after all, with men and not with parchment that I quarrel — and he has voluntarily chosen to be an agent of the government. How shall he ever know well that he is and does as an officer of the government, or as a man, until he is obliged to consider whether he will treat me, his neighbor, for whom he has respect, as a neighbor and well-disposed man, or as a maniac and disturber of the peace, and see if he can get over this obstruction to his neighborlines without a ruder and more impetuous thought or speech corresponding with his action. I know this well, that if one thousand, if one hundred, if ten men whom I could name — if ten honest men only — ay, if one honest man, in this State of Massachusetts, ceasing to hold slaves, were actually to withdraw from this co-partnership, and be locked up in the county jail therefor, it would be the abolition of slavery in America. For it matters not how small the beginning may seem to be: what is once well done is done forever. But we love better to talk about it: that we say is our mission. Reform keeps many scores of newspapers in its service, but not one man. If my esteemed neighbor, the State’s ambassador, who will devote his days to the settlement of the question of human rights in the Council Chamber, instead of being threatened with the prisons of Carolina, were to sit down the prisoner of Massachusetts, that State which is so anxious to foist the sin of slavery upon her sister — though at present she can discover only an act of inhospitality to be the ground of a quarrel with her — the Legislature would not wholly waive the subject of the following winter.

Under a government which imprisons unjustly, the true place for a just man is also a prison. The proper place today, the only place which Massachusetts has provided for her freer and less despondent spirits, is in her prisons, to be put out and locked out of the State by her own act, as they have already put themselves out by their principles. It is there that the fugitive slave, and the Mexican prisoner on parole, and the Indian come to plead the wrongs of his race should find them; on that separate but more free and honorable ground, where the State places those who are not with her, but against her — the only house in a slave State in which a free man can abide with honor. If any think that their influence would be lost there, and their voices no longer afflict the ear of the State, that they would not be as an enemy within its walls, they do not know by how much truth is stronger than error, nor how much more eloquently and effectively he can combat injustice who has experienced a little in his own person. Cast your whole vote, not a strip of paper merely, but your whole influence. A minority is powerless while it conforms to the majority; it is not even a minority then; but it is irresistible when it clogs by its whole weight. If the alternative is to keep all just men in prison, or give up war and slavery, the State will not hesitate which to choose. If a thousand men were not to pay their tax bills this year, that would not be a violent and bloody measure, as it would be to pay them, and enable the State to commit violence and shed innocent blood. This is, in fact, the definition of a peaceable revolution, if any such is possible. If the tax-gatherer, or any other public officer, asks me, as one has done, «But what shall I do?» my answer is, «If you really wish to do anything, resign your office.» When the subject has refused allegiance, and the officer has resigned from office, then the revolution is accomplished. But even suppose blood shed when the conscience is wounded? Through this wound a man’s real manhood and immortality flow out, and he bleeds to an everlasting death. I see this blood flowing now.

I have contemplated the imprisonment of the offender, rather than the seizure of his goods — though both will serve the same purpose — because they who assert the purest right, and consequently are most dangerous to a corrupt State, commonly have not spent much time in accumulating property. To such the State renders comparatively small service, and a slight tax is wont to appear exorbitant, particularly if they are obliged to earn it by special labor with their hands. If there were one who lived wholly without the use of money, the State itself would hesitate to demand it of him. But the rich man — not to make any invidious comparison — is always sold to the institution which makes him rich. Absolutely speaking, the more money, the less virtue; for money comes between a man and his objects, and obtains them for him; it was certainly no great virtue to obtain it. It puts to rest many questions which he would otherwise be taxed to answer; while the only new question which it puts is the hard but superfluous one, how to spend it. Thus his moral ground is taken from under his feet. The opportunities of living are diminished in proportion as that are called the «means» are increased. The best thing a man can do for his culture when he is rich is to endeavor to carry out those schemes which he entertained when he was poor. Christ answered the Herodians according to their condition. «Show me the tribute-money,» said he — and one took a penny out of his pocket — if you use money which has the image of Caesar on it, and which he has made current and valuable, that is, if you are men of the State, and gladly enjoy the advantages of Caesar’s government, then pay him back some of his own when he demands it. «Render therefore to Caesar that which is Caesar’s and to God those things which are God’s» — leaving them no wiser than before as to which was which; for they did not wish to know.

When I converse with the freest of my neighbors, I perceive that, whatever they may say about the magnitude and seriousness of the question, and their regard for the public tranquillity, the long and the short of the matter is, that they cannot spare the protection of the existing government, and they dread the consequences to their property and families of disobedience to it. For my own part, I should not like to think that I ever rely on the protection of the State. But, if I deny the authority of the State when it presents its tax bill, it will soon take and waste all my property, and so harass me and my children without end. This is hard. This makes it impossible for a man to live honestly, and at the same time comfortably, in outward respects. It will not be worth the while to accumulate property; that would be sure to go again. You must hire or squat somewhere, and raise but a small crop, and eat that soon. You must live within yourself, and depend upon yourself always tucked up and ready for a start, and not have many affairs. A man may grow rich in Turkey even, if he will be in all respects a good subject of the Turkish government. Confucius said: «If a state is governed by the principles of reason, poverty and misery are subjects of shame; if a state is not governed by the principles of reason, riches and honors are subjects of shame.» No: until I want the protection of Massachusetts to be extended to me in some distant Southern port, where my liberty is endangered, or until I am bent solely on building up an estate at home by peaceful enterprise, I can afford to refuse allegiance to Massachusetts, and her right to my property and life. It costs me less in every sense to incur the penalty of disobedience to the State than it would to obey. I should feel as if I were worth less in that case.

Some years ago, the State met me in behalf of the Church, and commanded me to pay a certain sum toward the support of a clergyman whose preaching my father attended, but never I myself. «Pay,» it said, «or be locked up in the jail.» I declined to pay. But, unfortunately, another man saw fit to pay it. I did not see why the schoolmaster should be taxed to support the priest, and not the priest the schoolmaster; for I was not the State’s schoolmaster, but I supported myself by voluntary subscription. I did not see why the lyceum should not present its tax bill, and have the State to back its demand, as well as the Church. However, as the request of the selectmen, I condescended to make some such statement as this in writing: «Know all men by these presents, that I, Henry Thoreau, do not wish to be regarded as a member of any society which I have not joined.» This I gave to the town clerk; and he has it. The State, having thus learned that I did not wish to be regarded as a member of that church, has never made a like demand on me since; though it said that it must adhere to its original presumption that time. If I had known how to name them, I should then have signed off in detail from all the societies which I never signed on to; but I did not know where to find such a complete list.

I have paid no poll tax for six years. I was put into a jail once on this account, for one night; and, as I stood considering the walls of solid stone, two or three feet thick, the door of wood and iron, a foot thick, and the iron grating which strained the light, I could not help being struck with the foolishness of that institution which treated my as if I were mere flesh and blood and bones, to be locked up. I wondered that it should have concluded at length that this was the best use it could put me to, and had never thought to avail itself of my services in some way. I saw that, if there was a wall of stone between me and my townsmen, there was a still more difficult one to climb or break through before they could get to be as free as I was. I did nor for a moment feel confined, and the walls seemed a great waste of stone and mortar. I felt as if I alone of all my townsmen had paid my tax. They plainly did not know how to treat me, but behaved like persons who are underbred. In every threat and in every compliment there was a blunder; for they thought that my chief desire was to stand the other side of that stone wall. I could not but smile to see how industriously they locked the door on my meditations, which followed them out again without let or hindrance, and they were really all that was dangerous. As they could not reach me, they had resolved to punish my body; just as boys, if they cannot come at some person against whom they have a spite, will abuse his dog. I saw that the State was half-witted, that it was timid as a lone woman with her silver spoons, and that it did not know its friends from its foes, and I lost all my remaining respect for it, and pitied it.

Thus the state never intentionally confronts a man’s sense, intellectual or moral, but only his body, his senses. It is not armed with superior with or honesty, but with superior physical strength. I was not born to be forced. I will breathe after my own fashion. Let us see who is the strongest. What force has a multitude? They only can force me who obey a higher law than I. They force me to become like themselves. I do not hear of men being forced to live this way or that by masses of men. What sort of life were that to live? When I meet a government which says to me, «Your money our your life,» why should I be in haste to give it my money? It may be in a great strait, and not know what to do: I cannot help that. It must help itself; do as I do. It is not worth the while to snivel about it. I am not responsible for the successful working of the machinery of society. I am not the son of the engineer. I perceive that, when an acorn and a chestnut fall side by side, the one does not remain inert to make way for the other, but both obey their own laws, and spring and grow and flourish as best they can, till one, perchance, overshadows and destroys the other. If a plant cannot live according to nature, it dies; and so a man.

The night in prison was novel and interesting enough. The prisoners in their shirtsleeves were enjoying a chat and the evening air in the doorway, when I entered. But the jailer said, «Come, boys, it is time to lock up»; and so they dispersed, and I heard the sound of their steps returning into the hollow apartments. My room-mate was introduced to me by the jailer as «a first-rate fellow and clever man.» When the door was locked, he showed me where to hang my hat, and how he managed matters there. The rooms were whitewashed once a month; and this one, at least, was the whitest, most simply furnished, and probably neatest apartment in town. He naturally wanted to know where I came from, and what brought me there; and, when I had told him, I asked him in my turn how he came there, presuming him to be an honest man, of course; and as the world goes, I believe he was. «Why,» said he, «they accuse me of burning a barn; but I never did it.» As near as I could discover, he had probably gone to bed in a barn when drunk, and smoked his pipe there; and so a barn was burnt. He had the reputation of being a clever man, had been there some three months waiting for his trial to come on, and would have to wait as much longer; but he was quite domesticated and contented, since he got his board for nothing, and thought that he was well treated.

He occupied one window, and I the other; and I saw that if one stayed there long, his principal business would be to look out the window. I had soon read all the tracts that were left there, and examined where former prisoners had broken out, and where a grate had been sawed off, and heard the history of the various occupants of that room; for I found that even there there was a history and a gossip which never circulated beyond the walls of the jail. Probably this is the only house in the town where verses are composed, which are afterward printed in a circular form, but not published. I was shown quite a long list of young men who had been detected in an attempt to escape, who avenged themselves by singing them.

I pumped my fellow-prisoner as dry as I could, for fear I should never see him again; but at length he showed me which was my bed, and left me to blow out the lamp.

It was like travelling into a far country, such as I had never expected to behold, to lie there for one night. It seemed to me that I never had heard the town clock strike before, not the evening sounds of the village; for we slept with the windows open, which were inside the grating. It was to see my native village in the light of the Middle Ages, and our Concord was turned into a Rhine stream, and visions of knights and castles passed before me. They were the voices of old burghers that I heard in the streets. I was an involuntary spectator and auditor of whatever was done and said in the kitchen of the adjacent village inn — a wholly new and rare experience to me. It was a closer view of my native town. I was fairly inside of it. I never had seen its institutions before. This is one of its peculiar institutions; for it is a shire town. I began to comprehend what its inhabitants were about.

In the morning, our breakfasts were put through the hole in the door, in small oblong-square tin pans, made to fit, and holding a pint of chocolate, with brown bread, and an iron spoon. When they called for the vessels again, I was green enough to return what bread I had left, but my comrade seized it, and said that I should lay that up for lunch or dinner. Soon after he was let out to work at haying in a neighboring field, whither he went every day, and would not be back till noon; so he bade me good day, saying that he doubted if he should see me again.

When I came out of prison — for some one interfered, and paid that tax — I did not perceive that great changes had taken place on the common, such as he observed who went in a youth and emerged a gray-headed man; and yet a change had come to my eyes come over the scene — the town, and State, and country, greater than any that mere time could effect. I saw yet more distinctly the State in which I lived. I saw to what extent the people among whom I lived could be trusted as good neighbors and friends; that their friendship was for summer weather only; that they did not greatly propose to do right; that they were a distinct race from me by their prejudices and superstitions, as the Chinamen and Malays are that in their sacrifices to humanity they ran no risks, not even to their property; that after all they were not so noble but they treated the thief as he had treated them, and hoped, by a certain outward observance and a few prayers, and by walking in a particular straight through useless path from time to time, to save their souls. This may be to judge my neighbors harshly; for I believe that many of them are not aware that they have such an institution as the jail in their village.

It was formerly the custom in our village, when a poor debtor came out of jail, for his acquaintances to salute him, looking through their fingers, which were crossed to represent the jail window, «How do ye do?» My neighbors did not this salute me, but first looked at me, and then at one another, as if I had returned from a long journey. I was put into jail as I was going to the shoemaker’s to get a shoe which was mender. When I was let out the next morning, I proceeded to finish my errand, and, having put on my mended show, joined a huckleberry party, who were impatient to put themselves under my conduct; and in half an hour — for the horse was soon tackled — was in the midst of a huckleberry field, on one of our highest hills, two miles off, and then the State was nowhere to be seen.

This is the whole history of «My Prisons.»

I have never declined paying the highway tax, because I am as desirous of being a good neighbor as I am of being a bad subject; and as for supporting schools, I am doing my part to educate my fellow countrymen now. It is for no particular item in the tax bill that I refuse to pay it. I simply wish to refuse allegiance to the State, to withdraw and stand aloof from it effectually. I do not care to trace the course of my dollar, if I could, till it buys a man a musket to shoot one with — the dollar is innocent — but I am concerned to trace the effects of my allegiance. In fact, I quietly declare war with the State, after my fashion, though I will still make use and get what advantages of her I can, as is usual in such cases.

If others pay the tax which is demanded of me, from a sympathy with the State, they do but what they have already done in their own case, or rather they abet injustice to a greater extent than the State requires. If they pay the tax from a mistaken interest in the individual taxed, to save his property, or prevent his going to jail, it is because they have not considered wisely how far they let their private feelings interfere with the public good.

This, then is my position at present. But one cannot be too much on his guard in such a case, lest his actions be biased by obstinacy or an undue regard for the opinions of men. Let him see that he does only what belongs to himself and to the hour.

I think sometimes, Why, this people mean well, they are only ignorant; they would do better if they knew how: why give your neighbors this pain to treat you as they are not inclined to? But I think again, This is no reason why I should do as they do, or permit others to suffer much greater pain of a different kind. Again, I sometimes say to myself, When many millions of men, without heat, without ill will, without personal feelings of any kind, demand of you a few shillings only, without the possibility, such is their constitution, of retracting or altering their present demand, and without the possibility, on your side, of appeal to any other millions, why expose yourself to this overwhelming brute force? You do not resist cold and hunger, the winds and the waves, thus obstinately; you quietly submit to a thousand similar necessities. You do not put your head into the fire. But just in proportion as I regard this as not wholly a brute force, but partly a human force, and consider that I have relations to those millions as to so many millions of men, and not of mere brute or inanimate things, I see that appeal is possible, first and instantaneously, from them to the Maker of them, and, secondly, from them to themselves. But if I put my head deliberately into the fire, there is no appeal to fire or to the Maker for fire, and I have only myself to blame. If I could convince myself that I have any right to be satisfied with men as they are, and to treat them accordingly, and not according, in some respects, to my requisitions and expectations of what they and I ought to be, then, like a good Mussulman and fatalist, I should endeavor to be satisfied with things as they are, and say it is the will of God. And, above all, there is this difference between resisting this and a purely brute or natural force, that I can resist this with some effect; but I cannot expect, like Orpheus, to change the nature of the rocks and trees and beasts.

I do not wish to quarrel with any man or nation. I do not wish to split hairs, to make fine distinctions, or set myself up as better than my neighbors. I seek rather, I may say, even an excuse for conforming to the laws of the land. I am but too ready to conform to them. Indeed, I have reason to suspect myself on this head; and each year, as the tax-gatherer comes round, I find myself disposed to review the acts and position of the general and State governments, and the spirit of the people to discover a pretext for conformity.

«We must affect our country as our parents,
And if at any time we alienate
Out love or industry from doing it honor,
We must respect effects and teach the soul
Matter of conscience and religion,
And not desire of rule or benefit.»

I believe that the State will soon be able to take all my work of this sort out of my hands, and then I shall be no better patriot than my fellow-countrymen. Seen from a lower point of view, the Constitution, with all its faults, is very good; the law and the courts are very respectable; even this State and this American government are, in many respects, very admirable, and rare things, to be thankful for, such as a great many have described them; seen from a higher still, and the highest, who shall say what they are, or that they are worth looking at or thinking of at all?

However, the government does not concern me much, and I shall bestow the fewest possible thoughts on it. It is not many moments that I live under a government, even in this world. If a man is thought-free, fancy-free, imagination-free, that which is not never for a long time appearing to be to him, unwise rulers or reformers cannot fatally interrupt him.

I know that most men think differently from myself; but those whose lives are by profession devoted to the study of these or kindred subjects content me as little as any. Statesmen and legislators, standing so completely within the institution, never distinctly and nakedly behold it. They speak of moving society, but have no resting-place without it. They may be men of a certain experience and discrimination, and have no doubt invented ingenious and even useful systems, for which we sincerely thank them; but all their wit and usefulness lie within certain not very wide limits. They are wont to forget that the world is not governed by policy and expediency. Webster never goes behind government, and so cannot speak with authority about it. His words are wisdom to those legislators who contemplate no essential reform in the existing government; but for thinkers, and those who legislate for all tim, he never once glances at the subject. I know of those whose serene and wise speculations on this theme would soon reveal the limits of his mind’s range and hospitality. Yet, compared with the cheap professions of most reformers, and the still cheaper wisdom an eloquence of politicians in general, his are almost the only sensible and valuable words, and we thank Heaven for him. Comparatively, he is always strong, original, and, above all, practical. Still, his quality is not wisdom, but prudence. The lawyer’s truth is not Truth, but consistency or a consistent expediency. Truth is always in harmony with herself, and is not concerned chiefly to reveal the justice that may consist with wrong-doing. He well deserves to be called, as he has been called, the Defender of the Constitution. There are really no blows to be given him but defensive ones. He is not a leader, but a follower. His leaders are the men of ’87. «I have never made an effort,» he says, «and never propose to make an effort; I have never countenanced an effort, and never mean to countenance an effort, to disturb the arrangement as originally made, by which various States came into the Union.» Still thinking of the sanction which the Constitution gives to slavery, he says, «Because it was part of the original compact — let it stand.» Notwithstanding his special acuteness and ability, he is unable to take a fact out of its merely political relations, and behold it as it lies absolutely to be disposed of by the intellect — what, for instance, it behooves a man to do here in American today with regard to slavery — but ventures, or is driven, to make some such desperate answer to the following, while professing to speak absolutely, and as a private man — from which what new and singular of social duties might be inferred? «The manner,» says he, «in which the governments of the States where slavery exists are to regulate it is for their own consideration, under the responsibility to their constituents, to the general laws of propriety, humanity, and justice, and to God. Associations formed elsewhere, springing from a feeling of humanity, or any other cause, have nothing whatever to do with it. They have never received any encouragement from me and they never will. [These extracts have been inserted since the lecture was read — HDT]

They who know of no purer sources of truth, who have traced up its stream no higher, stand, and wisely stand, by the Bible and the Constitution, and drink at it there with reverence and humanity; but they who behold where it comes trickling into this lake or that pool, gird up their loins once more, and continue their pilgrimage toward its fountainhead.

No man with a genius for legislation has appeared in America. They are rare in the history of the world. There are orators, politicians, and eloquent men, by the thousand; but the speaker has not yet opened his mouth to speak who is capable of settling the much-vexed questions of the day. We love eloquence for its own sake, and not for any truth which it may utter, or any heroism it may inspire. Our legislators have not yet learned the comparative value of free trade and of freed, of union, and of rectitude, to a nation. They have no genius or talent for comparatively humble questions of taxation and finance, commerce and manufactures and agriculture. If we were left solely to the wordy wit of legislators in Congress for our guidance, uncorrected by the seasonable experience and the effectual complaints of the people, America would not long retain her rank among the nations. For eighteen hundred years, though perchance I have no right to say it, the New Testament has been written; yet where is the legislator who has wisdom and practical talent enough to avail himself of the light which it sheds on the science of legislation.

The authority of government, even such as I am willing to submit to — for I will cheerfully obey those who know and can do better than I, and in many things even those who neither know nor can do so well — is still an impure one: to be strictly just, it must have the sanction and consent of the governed. It can have no pure right over my person and property but what I concede to it. The progress from an absolute to a limited monarchy, from a limited monarchy to a democracy, is a progress toward a true respect for the individual. Even the Chinese philosopher was wise enough to regard the individual as the basis of the empire. Is a democracy, such as we know it, the last improvement possible in government? Is it not possible to take a step further towards recognizing and organizing the rights of man? There will never be a really free and enlightened State until the State comes to recognize the individual as a higher and independent power, from which all its own power and authority are derived, and treats him accordingly. I please myself with imagining a State at last which can afford to be just to all men, and to treat the individual with respect as a neighbor; which even would not think it inconsistent with its own repose if a few were to live aloof from it, not meddling with it, nor embraced by it, who fulfilled all the duties of neighbors and fellow men. A State which bore this kind of fruit, and suffered it to drop off as fast as it ripened, would prepare the way for a still more perfect and glorious State, which I have also imagined, but not yet anywhere seen.

Henry David Thoreau

On the Duty of Civil Disobedience

[1849, original title: Resistance to Civil Government]


I heartily accept the motto, "That government is best which governs least"; and I should like to see it acted up to more rapidly and systematically. Carried out, it finally amounts to this, which also I believe — "That government is best which governs not at all"; and when men are prepared for it, that will be the kind of government which the will have. Government is at best but an expedient; but most governments are usually, and all governments are sometimes, inexpedient. The objections which have been brought against a standing army, and they are many and weighty, and deserve to prevail, may also at last be brought against a standing government. The standing army is only an arm of the standing government. The government itself, which is only the mode which the people have chosen to execute their will, is equally liable to be abused and perverted before the people can act through it. Witness the present Mexican war, the work of comparatively a few individuals using the standing government as their tool; for in the outset, the people would not have consented to this measure.

This American government — what is it but a tradition, though a recent one, endeavoring to transmit itself unimpaired to posterity, but each instant losing some of its integrity? It has not the vitality and force of a single living man; for a single man can bend it to his will. It is a sort of wooden gun to the people themselves. But it is not the less necessary for this; for the people must have some complicated machinery or other, and hear its din, to satisfy that idea of government which they have. Governments show thus how successfully men can be imposed upon, even impose on themselves, for their own advantage. It is excellent, we must all allow. Yet this government never of itself furthered any enterprise, but by the alacrity with which it got out of its way. It does not keep the country free. It does not settle the West. It does not educate. The character inherent in the American people has done all that has been accomplished; and it would have done somewhat more, if the government had not sometimes got in its way. For government is an expedient, by which men would fain succeed in letting one another alone; and, as has been said, when it is most expedient, the governed are most let alone by it. Trade and commerce, if they were not made of india-rubber, would never manage to bounce over obstacles which legislators are continually putting in their way; and if one were to judge these men wholly by the effects of their actions and not partly by their intentions, they would deserve to be classed and punished with those mischievious persons who put obstructions on the railroads.

But, to speak practically and as a citizen, unlike those who call themselves no-government men, I ask for, not at one no government, but at once a better government. Let every man make known what kind of government would command his respect, and that will be one step toward obtaining it.

After all, the practical reason why, when the power is once in the hands of the people, a majority are permitted, and for a long period continue, to rule is not because they are most likely to be in the right, nor because this seems fairest to the minority, but because they are physically the strongest. But a government in which the majority rule in all cases can not be based on justice, even as far as men understand it. Can there not be a government in which the majorities do not virtually decide right and wrong, but conscience? — in which majorities decide only those questions to which the rule of expediency is applicable? Must the citizen ever for a moment, or in the least degree, resign his conscience to the legislator? Why has every man a conscience then? I think that we should be men first, and subjects afterward. It is not desirable to cultivate a respect for the law, so much as for the right. The only obligation which I have a right to assume is to do at any time what I think right. It is truly enough said that a corporation has no conscience; but a corporation on conscientious men is a corporation with a conscience. Law never made men a whit more just; and, by means of their respect for it, even the well-disposed are daily made the agents on injustice. A common and natural result of an undue respect for the law is, that you may see a file of soldiers, colonel, captain, corporal, privates, powder-monkeys, and all, marching in admirable order over hill and dale to the wars, against their wills, ay, against their common sense and consciences, which makes it very steep marching indeed, and produces a palpitation of the heart. They have no doubt that it is a damnable business in which they are concerned; they are all peaceably inclined. Now, what are they? Men at all? or small movable forts and magazines, at the service of some unscrupulous man in power? Visit the Navy Yard, and behold a marine, such a man as an American government can make, or such as it can make a man with its black arts — a mere shadow and reminiscence of humanity, a man laid out alive and standing, and already, as one may say, buried under arms with funeral accompaniment, though it may be,

"Not a drum was heard, not a funeral note,
As his corse to the rampart we hurried;

Not a soldier discharged his farewell shot
O'er the grave where out hero was buried."

The mass of men serve the state thus, not as men mainly, but as machines, with their bodies. They are the standing army, and the militia, jailers, constables, posse comitatus, etc. In most cases there is no free exercise whatever of the judgement or of the moral sense; but they put themselves on a level with wood and earth and stones; and wooden men can perhaps be manufactured that will serve the purpose as well. Such command no more respect than men of straw or a lump of dirt. They have the same sort of worth only as horses and dogs. Yet such as these even are commonly esteemed good citizens. Others — as most legislators, politicians, lawyers, ministers, and office-holders — serve the state chiefly with their heads; and, as the rarely make any moral distinctions, they are as likely to serve the devil, without intending it, as God. A very few — as heroes, patriots, martyrs, reformers in the great sense, and men — serve the state with their consciences also, and so necessarily resist it for the most part; and they are commonly treated as enemies by it. A wise man will only be useful as a man, and will not submit to be "clay," and "stop a hole to keep the wind away," but leave that office to his dust at least:

"I am too high born to be propertied,
To be a second at control,
Or useful serving-man and instrument
To any sovereign state throughout the world."

He who gives himself entirely to his fellow men appears to them useless and selfish; but he who gives himself partially to them in pronounced a benefactor and philanthropist.

How does it become a man to behave toward the American government today? I answer, that he cannot without disgrace be associated with it. I cannot for an instant recognize that political organization as my government which is the slave's government also.

All men recognize the right of revolution; that is, the right to refuse allegiance to, and to resist, the government, when its tyranny or its inefficiency are great and unendurable. But almost all say that such is not the case now. But such was the case, they think, in the Revolution of '75. If one were to tell me that this was a bad government because it taxed certain foreign commodities brought to its ports, it is most probable that I should not make an ado about it, for I can do without them. All machines have their friction; and possibly this does enough good to counter-balance the evil. At any rate, it is a great evil to make a stir about it. But when the friction comes to have its machine, and oppression and robbery are organized, I say, let us not have such a machine any longer. In other words, when a sixth of the population of a nation which has undertaken to be the refuge of liberty are slaves, and a whole country is unjustly overrun and conquered by a foreign army, and subjected to military law, I think that it is not too soon for honest men to rebel and revolutionize. What makes this duty the more urgent is that fact that the country so overrun is not our own, but ours is the invading army.

Paley, a common authority with many on moral questions, in his chapter on the "Duty of Submission to Civil Government," resolves all civil obligation into expediency; and he proceeds to say that "so long as the interest of the whole society requires it, that it, so long as the established government cannot be resisted or changed without public inconveniencey, it is the will of God... that the established government be obeyed — and no longer. This principle being admitted, the justice of every particular case of resistance is reduced to a computation of the quantity of the danger and grievance on the one side, and of the probability and expense of redressing it on the other." Of this, he says, every man shall judge for himself. But Paley appears never to have contemplated those cases to which the rule of expediency does not apply, in which a people, as well and an individual, must do justice, cost what it may. If I have unjustly wrested a plank from a drowning man, I must restore it to him though I drown myself. This, according to Paley, would be inconvenient. But he that would save his life, in such a case, shall lose it. This people must cease to hold slaves, and to make war on Mexico, though it cost them their existence as a people.

In their practice, nations agree with Paley; but does anyone think that Massachusetts does exactly what is right at the present crisis?

"A drab of stat,
a cloth-o'-silver slut,

To have her train borne up,
and her soul trail in the dirt."

Practically speaking, the opponents to a reform in Massachusetts are not a hundred thousand politicians at the South, but a hundred thousand merchants and farmers here, who are more interested in commerce and agriculture than they are in humanity, and are not prepared to do justice to the slave and to Mexico, cost what it may. I quarrel not with far-off foes, but with those who, neat at home, co-operate with, and do the bidding of, those far away, and without whom the latter would be harmless. We are accustomed to say, that the mass of men are unprepared; but improvement is slow, because the few are not as materially wiser or better than the many. It is not so important that many should be good as you, as that there be some absolute goodness somewhere; for that will leaven the whole lump. There are thousands who are in opinion opposed to slavery and to the war, who yet in effect do nothing to put an end to them; who, esteeming themselves children of Washington and Franklin, sit down with their hands in their pockets, and say that they know not what to do, and do nothing; who even postpone the question of freedom to the question of free trade, and quietly read the prices-current along with the latest advices from Mexico, after dinner, and, it may be, fall asleep over them both. What is the price-current of an honest man and patriot today? They hesitate, and they regret, and sometimes they petition; but they do nothing in earnest and with effect. They will wait, well disposed, for other to remedy the evil, that they may no longer have it to regret. At most, they give up only a cheap vote, and a feeble countenance and Godspeed, to the right, as it goes by them. There are nine hundred and ninety-nine patrons of virtue to one virtuous man. But it is easier to deal with the real possessor of a thing than with the temporary guardian of it.

All voting is a sort of gaming, like checkers or backgammon, with a slight moral tinge to it, a playing with right and wrong, with moral questions; and betting naturally accompanies it. The character of the voters is not staked. I cast my vote, perchance, as I think right; but I am not vitally concerned that that right should prevail. I am willing to leave it to the majority. Its obligation, therefore, never exceeds that of expediency. Even voting for the right is doing nothing for it. It is only expressing to men feebly your desire that it should prevail. A wise man will not leave the right to the mercy of chance, nor wish it to prevail through the power of the majority. There is but little virtue in the action of masses of men. When the majority shall at length vote for the abolition of slavery, it will be because they are indifferent to slavery, or because there is but little slavery left to be abolished by their vote. They will then be the only slaves. Only his vote can hasten the abolition of slavery who asserts his own freedom by his vote.

I hear of a convention to be held at Baltimore, or elsewhere, for the selection of a candidate for the Presidency, made up chiefly of editors, and men who are politicians by profession; but I think, what is it to any independent, intelligent, and respectable man what decision they may come to? Shall we not have the advantage of this wisdom and honesty, nevertheless? Can we not count upon some independent votes? Are there not many individuals in the country who do not attend conventions? But no: I find that the respectable man, so called, has immediately drifted from his position, and despairs of his country, when his country has more reasons to despair of him. He forthwith adopts one of the candidates thus selected as the only available one, thus proving that he is himself available for any purposes of the demagogue. His vote is of no more worth than that of any unprincipled foreigner or hireling native, who may have been bought. O for a man who is a man, and, and my neighbor says, has a bone is his back which you cannot pass your hand through! Our statistics are at fault: the population has been returned too large. How many men are there to a square thousand miles in the country? Hardly one. Does not America offer any inducement for men to settle here? The American has dwindled into an Odd Fellow — one who may be known by the development of his organ of gregariousness, and a manifest lack of intellect and cheerful self-reliance; whose first and chief concern, on coming into the world, is to see that the almshouses are in good repair; and, before yet he has lawfully donned the virile garb, to collect a fund to the support of the widows and orphans that may be; who, in short, ventures to live only by the aid of the Mutual Insurance company, which has promised to bury him decently.

It is not a man's duty, as a matter of course, to devote himself to the eradication of any, even to most enormous, wrong; he may still properly have other concerns to engage him; but it is his duty, at least, to wash his hands of it, and, if he gives it no thought longer, not to give it practically his support. If I devote myself to other pursuits and contemplations, I must first see, at least, that I do not pursue them sitting upon another man's shoulders. I must get off him first, that he may pursue his contemplations too. See what gross inconsistency is tolerated. I have heard some of my townsmen say, "I should like to have them order me out to help put down an insurrection of the slaves, or to march to Mexico — see if I would go"; and yet these very men have each, directly by their allegiance, and so indirectly, at least, by their money, furnished a substitute. The soldier is applauded who refuses to serve in an unjust war by those who do not refuse to sustain the unjust government which makes the war; is applauded by those whose own act and authority he disregards and sets at naught; as if the state were penitent to that degree that it hired one to scourge it while it sinned, but not to that degree that it left off sinning for a moment. Thus, under the name of Order and Civil Government, we are all made at last to pay homage to and support our own meanness. After the first blush of sin comes its indifference; and from immoral it becomes, as it were, unmoral, and not quite unnecessary to that life which we have made.

The broadest and most prevalent error requires the most disinterested virtue to sustain it. The slight reproach to which the virtue of patriotism is commonly liable, the noble are most likely to incur. Those who, while they disapprove of the character and measures of a government, yield to it their allegiance and support are undoubtedly its most conscientious supporters, and so frequently the most serious obstacles to reform. Some are petitioning the State to dissolve the Union, to disregard the requisitions of the President. Why do they not dissolve it themselves — the union between themselves and the State — and refuse to pay their quota into its treasury? Do not they stand in same relation to the State that the State does to the Union? And have not the same reasons prevented the State from resisting the Union which have prevented them from resisting the State?

How can a man be satisfied to entertain and opinion merely, and enjoy it? Is there any enjoyment in it, if his opinion is that he is aggrieved? If you are cheated out of a single dollar by your neighbor, you do not rest satisfied with knowing you are cheated, or with saying that you are cheated, or even with petitioning him to pay you your due; but you take effectual steps at once to obtain the full amount, and see to it that you are never cheated again. Action from principle, the perception and the performance of right, changes things and relations; it is essentially revolutionary, and does not consist wholly with anything which was. It not only divided States and churches, it divides families; ay, it divides the individual, separating the diabolical in him from the divine.

Unjust laws exist: shall we be content to obey them, or shall we endeavor to amend them, and obey them until we have succeeded, or shall we transgress them at once? Men, generally, under such a government as this, think that they ought to wait until they have persuaded the majority to alter them. They think that, if they should resist, the remedy would be worse than the evil. But it is the fault of the government itself that the remedy is worse than the evil. It makes it worse. Why is it not more apt to anticipate and provide for reform? Why does it not cherish its wise minority? Why does it cry and resist before it is hurt? Why does it not encourage its citizens to put out its faults, and do better than it would have them? Why does it always crucify Christ and excommunicate Copernicus and Luther, and pronounce Washington and Franklin rebels?

One would think, that a deliberate and practical denial of its authority was the only offense never contemplated by its government; else, why has it not assigned its definite, its suitable and proportionate, penalty? If a man who has no property refuses but once to earn nine shillings for the State, he is put in prison for a period unlimited by any law that I know, and determined only by the discretion of those who put him there; but if he should steal ninety times nine shillings from the State, he is soon permitted to go at large again.

If the injustice is part of the necessary friction of the machine of government, let it go, let it go: perchance it will wear smooth — certainly the machine will wear out. If the injustice has a spring, or a pulley, or a rope, or a crank, exclusively for itself, then perhaps you may consider whether the remedy will not be worse than the evil; but if it is of such a nature that it requires you to be the agent of injustice to another, then I say, break the law. Let your life be a counter-friction to stop the machine. What I have to do is to see, at any rate, that I do not lend myself to the wrong which I condemn.

As for adopting the ways of the State has provided for remedying the evil, I know not of such ways. They take too much time, and a man's life will be gone. I have other affairs to attend to. I came into this world, not chiefly to make this a good place to live in, but to live in it, be it good or bad. A man has not everything to do, but something; and because he cannot do everything, it is not necessary that he should be petitioning the Governor or the Legislature any more than it is theirs to petition me; and if they should not hear my petition, what should I do then? But in this case the State has provided no way: its very Constitution is the evil. This may seem to be harsh and stubborn and unconcilliatory; but it is to treat with the utmost kindness and consideration the only spirit that can appreciate or deserves it. So is all change for the better, like birth and death, which convulse the body.

I do not hesitate to say, that those who call themselves Abolitionists should at once effectually withdraw their support, both in person and property, from the government of Massachusetts, and not wait till they constitute a majority of one, before they suffer the right to prevail through them. I think that it is enough if they have God on their side, without waiting for that other one. Moreover, any man more right than his neighbors constitutes a majority of one already.

I meet this American government, or its representative, the State government, directly, and face to face, once a year — no more — in the person of its tax-gatherer; this is the only mode in which a man situated as I am necessarily meets it; and it then says distinctly, Recognize me; and the simplest, the most effectual, and, in the present posture of affairs, the indispensablest mode of treating with it on this head, of expressing your little satisfaction with and love for it, is to deny it then. My civil neighbor, the tax-gatherer, is the very man I have to deal with — for it is, after all, with men and not with parchment that I quarrel — and he has voluntarily chosen to be an agent of the government. How shall he ever know well that he is and does as an officer of the government, or as a man, until he is obliged to consider whether he will treat me, his neighbor, for whom he has respect, as a neighbor and well-disposed man, or as a maniac and disturber of the peace, and see if he can get over this obstruction to his neighborlines without a ruder and more impetuous thought or speech corresponding with his action. I know this well, that if one thousand, if one hundred, if ten men whom I could name — if ten honest men only — ay, if one honest man, in this State of Massachusetts, ceasing to hold slaves, were actually to withdraw from this co-partnership, and be locked up in the county jail therefor, it would be the abolition of slavery in America. For it matters not how small the beginning may seem to be: what is once well done is done forever. But we love better to talk about it: that we say is our mission. Reform keeps many scores of newspapers in its service, but not one man. If my esteemed neighbor, the State's ambassador, who will devote his days to the settlement of the question of human rights in the Council Chamber, instead of being threatened with the prisons of Carolina, were to sit down the prisoner of Massachusetts, that State which is so anxious to foist the sin of slavery upon her sister — though at present she can discover only an act of inhospitality to be the ground of a quarrel with her — the Legislature would not wholly waive the subject of the following winter.

Under a government which imprisons unjustly, the true place for a just man is also a prison. The proper place today, the only place which Massachusetts has provided for her freer and less despondent spirits, is in her prisons, to be put out and locked out of the State by her own act, as they have already put themselves out by their principles. It is there that the fugitive slave, and the Mexican prisoner on parole, and the Indian come to plead the wrongs of his race should find them; on that separate but more free and honorable ground, where the State places those who are not with her, but against her — the only house in a slave State in which a free man can abide with honor. If any think that their influence would be lost there, and their voices no longer afflict the ear of the State, that they would not be as an enemy within its walls, they do not know by how much truth is stronger than error, nor how much more eloquently and effectively he can combat injustice who has experienced a little in his own person. Cast your whole vote, not a strip of paper merely, but your whole influence. A minority is powerless while it conforms to the majority; it is not even a minority then; but it is irresistible when it clogs by its whole weight. If the alternative is to keep all just men in prison, or give up war and slavery, the State will not hesitate which to choose. If a thousand men were not to pay their tax bills this year, that would not be a violent and bloody measure, as it would be to pay them, and enable the State to commit violence and shed innocent blood. This is, in fact, the definition of a peaceable revolution, if any such is possible. If the tax-gatherer, or any other public officer, asks me, as one has done, "But what shall I do?" my answer is, "If you really wish to do anything, resign your office." When the subject has refused allegiance, and the officer has resigned from office, then the revolution is accomplished. But even suppose blood shed when the conscience is wounded? Through this wound a man's real manhood and immortality flow out, and he bleeds to an everlasting death. I see this blood flowing now.

I have contemplated the imprisonment of the offender, rather than the seizure of his goods — though both will serve the same purpose — because they who assert the purest right, and consequently are most dangerous to a corrupt State, commonly have not spent much time in accumulating property. To such the State renders comparatively small service, and a slight tax is wont to appear exorbitant, particularly if they are obliged to earn it by special labor with their hands. If there were one who lived wholly without the use of money, the State itself would hesitate to demand it of him. But the rich man — not to make any invidious comparison — is always sold to the institution which makes him rich. Absolutely speaking, the more money, the less virtue; for money comes between a man and his objects, and obtains them for him; it was certainly no great virtue to obtain it. It puts to rest many questions which he would otherwise be taxed to answer; while the only new question which it puts is the hard but superfluous one, how to spend it. Thus his moral ground is taken from under his feet. The opportunities of living are diminished in proportion as that are called the "means" are increased. The best thing a man can do for his culture when he is rich is to endeavor to carry out those schemes which he entertained when he was poor. Christ answered the Herodians according to their condition. "Show me the tribute-money," said he — and one took a penny out of his pocket — if you use money which has the image of Caesar on it, and which he has made current and valuable, that is, if you are men of the State, and gladly enjoy the advantages of Caesar's government, then pay him back some of his own when he demands it. "Render therefore to Caesar that which is Caesar's and to God those things which are God's" — leaving them no wiser than before as to which was which; for they did not wish to know.

When I converse with the freest of my neighbors, I perceive that, whatever they may say about the magnitude and seriousness of the question, and their regard for the public tranquillity, the long and the short of the matter is, that they cannot spare the protection of the existing government, and they dread the consequences to their property and families of disobedience to it. For my own part, I should not like to think that I ever rely on the protection of the State. But, if I deny the authority of the State when it presents its tax bill, it will soon take and waste all my property, and so harass me and my children without end. This is hard. This makes it impossible for a man to live honestly, and at the same time comfortably, in outward respects. It will not be worth the while to accumulate property; that would be sure to go again. You must hire or squat somewhere, and raise but a small crop, and eat that soon. You must live within yourself, and depend upon yourself always tucked up and ready for a start, and not have many affairs. A man may grow rich in Turkey even, if he will be in all respects a good subject of the Turkish government. Confucius said: "If a state is governed by the principles of reason, poverty and misery are subjects of shame; if a state is not governed by the principles of reason, riches and honors are subjects of shame." No: until I want the protection of Massachusetts to be extended to me in some distant Southern port, where my liberty is endangered, or until I am bent solely on building up an estate at home by peaceful enterprise, I can afford to refuse allegiance to Massachusetts, and her right to my property and life. It costs me less in every sense to incur the penalty of disobedience to the State than it would to obey. I should feel as if I were worth less in that case.

Some years ago, the State met me in behalf of the Church, and commanded me to pay a certain sum toward the support of a clergyman whose preaching my father attended, but never I myself. "Pay," it said, "or be locked up in the jail." I declined to pay. But, unfortunately, another man saw fit to pay it. I did not see why the schoolmaster should be taxed to support the priest, and not the priest the schoolmaster; for I was not the State's schoolmaster, but I supported myself by voluntary subscription. I did not see why the lyceum should not present its tax bill, and have the State to back its demand, as well as the Church. However, as the request of the selectmen, I condescended to make some such statement as this in writing: "Know all men by these presents, that I, Henry Thoreau, do not wish to be regarded as a member of any society which I have not joined." This I gave to the town clerk; and he has it. The State, having thus learned that I did not wish to be regarded as a member of that church, has never made a like demand on me since; though it said that it must adhere to its original presumption that time. If I had known how to name them, I should then have signed off in detail from all the societies which I never signed on to; but I did not know where to find such a complete list.

I have paid no poll tax for six years. I was put into a jail once on this account, for one night; and, as I stood considering the walls of solid stone, two or three feet thick, the door of wood and iron, a foot thick, and the iron grating which strained the light, I could not help being struck with the foolishness of that institution which treated my as if I were mere flesh and blood and bones, to be locked up. I wondered that it should have concluded at length that this was the best use it could put me to, and had never thought to avail itself of my services in some way. I saw that, if there was a wall of stone between me and my townsmen, there was a still more difficult one to climb or break through before they could get to be as free as I was. I did nor for a moment feel confined, and the walls seemed a great waste of stone and mortar. I felt as if I alone of all my townsmen had paid my tax. They plainly did not know how to treat me, but behaved like persons who are underbred. In every threat and in every compliment there was a blunder; for they thought that my chief desire was to stand the other side of that stone wall. I could not but smile to see how industriously they locked the door on my meditations, which followed them out again without let or hindrance, and they were really all that was dangerous. As they could not reach me, they had resolved to punish my body; just as boys, if they cannot come at some person against whom they have a spite, will abuse his dog. I saw that the State was half-witted, that it was timid as a lone woman with her silver spoons, and that it did not know its friends from its foes, and I lost all my remaining respect for it, and pitied it.

Thus the state never intentionally confronts a man's sense, intellectual or moral, but only his body, his senses. It is not armed with superior with or honesty, but with superior physical strength. I was not born to be forced. I will breathe after my own fashion. Let us see who is the strongest. What force has a multitude? They only can force me who obey a higher law than I. They force me to become like themselves. I do not hear of men being forced to live this way or that by masses of men. What sort of life were that to live? When I meet a government which says to me, "Your money our your life," why should I be in haste to give it my money? It may be in a great strait, and not know what to do: I cannot help that. It must help itself; do as I do. It is not worth the while to snivel about it. I am not responsible for the successful working of the machinery of society. I am not the son of the engineer. I perceive that, when an acorn and a chestnut fall side by side, the one does not remain inert to make way for the other, but both obey their own laws, and spring and grow and flourish as best they can, till one, perchance, overshadows and destroys the other. If a plant cannot live according to nature, it dies; and so a man.

The night in prison was novel and interesting enough. The prisoners in their shirtsleeves were enjoying a chat and the evening air in the doorway, when I entered. But the jailer said, "Come, boys, it is time to lock up"; and so they dispersed, and I heard the sound of their steps returning into the hollow apartments. My room-mate was introduced to me by the jailer as "a first-rate fellow and clever man." When the door was locked, he showed me where to hang my hat, and how he managed matters there. The rooms were whitewashed once a month; and this one, at least, was the whitest, most simply furnished, and probably neatest apartment in town. He naturally wanted to know where I came from, and what brought me there; and, when I had told him, I asked him in my turn how he came there, presuming him to be an honest man, of course; and as the world goes, I believe he was. "Why," said he, "they accuse me of burning a barn; but I never did it." As near as I could discover, he had probably gone to bed in a barn when drunk, and smoked his pipe there; and so a barn was burnt. He had the reputation of being a clever man, had been there some three months waiting for his trial to come on, and would have to wait as much longer; but he was quite domesticated and contented, since he got his board for nothing, and thought that he was well treated.

He occupied one window, and I the other; and I saw that if one stayed there long, his principal business would be to look out the window. I had soon read all the tracts that were left there, and examined where former prisoners had broken out, and where a grate had been sawed off, and heard the history of the various occupants of that room; for I found that even there there was a history and a gossip which never circulated beyond the walls of the jail. Probably this is the only house in the town where verses are composed, which are afterward printed in a circular form, but not published. I was shown quite a long list of young men who had been detected in an attempt to escape, who avenged themselves by singing them.

I pumped my fellow-prisoner as dry as I could, for fear I should never see him again; but at length he showed me which was my bed, and left me to blow out the lamp.

It was like travelling into a far country, such as I had never expected to behold, to lie there for one night. It seemed to me that I never had heard the town clock strike before, not the evening sounds of the village; for we slept with the windows open, which were inside the grating. It was to see my native village in the light of the Middle Ages, and our Concord was turned into a Rhine stream, and visions of knights and castles passed before me. They were the voices of old burghers that I heard in the streets. I was an involuntary spectator and auditor of whatever was done and said in the kitchen of the adjacent village inn — a wholly new and rare experience to me. It was a closer view of my native town. I was fairly inside of it. I never had seen its institutions before. This is one of its peculiar institutions; for it is a shire town. I began to comprehend what its inhabitants were about.

In the morning, our breakfasts were put through the hole in the door, in small oblong-square tin pans, made to fit, and holding a pint of chocolate, with brown bread, and an iron spoon. When they called for the vessels again, I was green enough to return what bread I had left, but my comrade seized it, and said that I should lay that up for lunch or dinner. Soon after he was let out to work at haying in a neighboring field, whither he went every day, and would not be back till noon; so he bade me good day, saying that he doubted if he should see me again.

When I came out of prison — for some one interfered, and paid that tax — I did not perceive that great changes had taken place on the common, such as he observed who went in a youth and emerged a gray-headed man; and yet a change had come to my eyes come over the scene — the town, and State, and country, greater than any that mere time could effect. I saw yet more distinctly the State in which I lived. I saw to what extent the people among whom I lived could be trusted as good neighbors and friends; that their friendship was for summer weather only; that they did not greatly propose to do right; that they were a distinct race from me by their prejudices and superstitions, as the Chinamen and Malays are that in their sacrifices to humanity they ran no risks, not even to their property; that after all they were not so noble but they treated the thief as he had treated them, and hoped, by a certain outward observance and a few prayers, and by walking in a particular straight through useless path from time to time, to save their souls. This may be to judge my neighbors harshly; for I believe that many of them are not aware that they have such an institution as the jail in their village.

It was formerly the custom in our village, when a poor debtor came out of jail, for his acquaintances to salute him, looking through their fingers, which were crossed to represent the jail window, "How do ye do?" My neighbors did not this salute me, but first looked at me, and then at one another, as if I had returned from a long journey. I was put into jail as I was going to the shoemaker's to get a shoe which was mender. When I was let out the next morning, I proceeded to finish my errand, and, having put on my mended show, joined a huckleberry party, who were impatient to put themselves under my conduct; and in half an hour — for the horse was soon tackled — was in the midst of a huckleberry field, on one of our highest hills, two miles off, and then the State was nowhere to be seen.

This is the whole history of "My Prisons."

I have never declined paying the highway tax, because I am as desirous of being a good neighbor as I am of being a bad subject; and as for supporting schools, I am doing my part to educate my fellow countrymen now. It is for no particular item in the tax bill that I refuse to pay it. I simply wish to refuse allegiance to the State, to withdraw and stand aloof from it effectually. I do not care to trace the course of my dollar, if I could, till it buys a man a musket to shoot one with — the dollar is innocent — but I am concerned to trace the effects of my allegiance. In fact, I quietly declare war with the State, after my fashion, though I will still make use and get what advantages of her I can, as is usual in such cases.

If others pay the tax which is demanded of me, from a sympathy with the State, they do but what they have already done in their own case, or rather they abet injustice to a greater extent than the State requires. If they pay the tax from a mistaken interest in the individual taxed, to save his property, or prevent his going to jail, it is because they have not considered wisely how far they let their private feelings interfere with the public good.

This, then is my position at present. But one cannot be too much on his guard in such a case, lest his actions be biased by obstinacy or an undue regard for the opinions of men. Let him see that he does only what belongs to himself and to the hour.

I think sometimes, Why, this people mean well, they are only ignorant; they would do better if they knew how: why give your neighbors this pain to treat you as they are not inclined to? But I think again, This is no reason why I should do as they do, or permit others to suffer much greater pain of a different kind. Again, I sometimes say to myself, When many millions of men, without heat, without ill will, without personal feelings of any kind, demand of you a few shillings only, without the possibility, such is their constitution, of retracting or altering their present demand, and without the possibility, on your side, of appeal to any other millions, why expose yourself to this overwhelming brute force? You do not resist cold and hunger, the winds and the waves, thus obstinately; you quietly submit to a thousand similar necessities. You do not put your head into the fire. But just in proportion as I regard this as not wholly a brute force, but partly a human force, and consider that I have relations to those millions as to so many millions of men, and not of mere brute or inanimate things, I see that appeal is possible, first and instantaneously, from them to the Maker of them, and, secondly, from them to themselves. But if I put my head deliberately into the fire, there is no appeal to fire or to the Maker for fire, and I have only myself to blame. If I could convince myself that I have any right to be satisfied with men as they are, and to treat them accordingly, and not according, in some respects, to my requisitions and expectations of what they and I ought to be, then, like a good Mussulman and fatalist, I should endeavor to be satisfied with things as they are, and say it is the will of God. And, above all, there is this difference between resisting this and a purely brute or natural force, that I can resist this with some effect; but I cannot expect, like Orpheus, to change the nature of the rocks and trees and beasts.

I do not wish to quarrel with any man or nation. I do not wish to split hairs, to make fine distinctions, or set myself up as better than my neighbors. I seek rather, I may say, even an excuse for conforming to the laws of the land. I am but too ready to conform to them. Indeed, I have reason to suspect myself on this head; and each year, as the tax-gatherer comes round, I find myself disposed to review the acts and position of the general and State governments, and the spirit of the people to discover a pretext for conformity.

"We must affect our country as our parents,
And if at any time we alienate
Out love or industry from doing it honor,
We must respect effects and teach the soul
Matter of conscience and religion,
And not desire of rule or benefit."

I believe that the State will soon be able to take all my work of this sort out of my hands, and then I shall be no better patriot than my fellow-countrymen. Seen from a lower point of view, the Constitution, with all its faults, is very good; the law and the courts are very respectable; even this State and this American government are, in many respects, very admirable, and rare things, to be thankful for, such as a great many have described them; seen from a higher still, and the highest, who shall say what they are, or that they are worth looking at or thinking of at all?

However, the government does not concern me much, and I shall bestow the fewest possible thoughts on it. It is not many moments that I live under a government, even in this world. If a man is thought-free, fancy-free, imagination-free, that which is not never for a long time appearing to be to him, unwise rulers or reformers cannot fatally interrupt him.

I know that most men think differently from myself; but those whose lives are by profession devoted to the study of these or kindred subjects content me as little as any. Statesmen and legislators, standing so completely within the institution, never distinctly and nakedly behold it. They speak of moving society, but have no resting-place without it. They may be men of a certain experience and discrimination, and have no doubt invented ingenious and even useful systems, for which we sincerely thank them; but all their wit and usefulness lie within certain not very wide limits. They are wont to forget that the world is not governed by policy and expediency. Webster never goes behind government, and so cannot speak with authority about it. His words are wisdom to those legislators who contemplate no essential reform in the existing government; but for thinkers, and those who legislate for all tim, he never once glances at the subject. I know of those whose serene and wise speculations on this theme would soon reveal the limits of his mind's range and hospitality. Yet, compared with the cheap professions of most reformers, and the still cheaper wisdom an eloquence of politicians in general, his are almost the only sensible and valuable words, and we thank Heaven for him. Comparatively, he is always strong, original, and, above all, practical. Still, his quality is not wisdom, but prudence. The lawyer's truth is not Truth, but consistency or a consistent expediency. Truth is always in harmony with herself, and is not concerned chiefly to reveal the justice that may consist with wrong-doing. He well deserves to be called, as he has been called, the Defender of the Constitution. There are really no blows to be given him but defensive ones. He is not a leader, but a follower. His leaders are the men of '87. "I have never made an effort," he says, "and never propose to make an effort; I have never countenanced an effort, and never mean to countenance an effort, to disturb the arrangement as originally made, by which various States came into the Union." Still thinking of the sanction which the Constitution gives to slavery, he says, "Because it was part of the original compact — let it stand." Notwithstanding his special acuteness and ability, he is unable to take a fact out of its merely political relations, and behold it as it lies absolutely to be disposed of by the intellect — what, for instance, it behooves a man to do here in American today with regard to slavery — but ventures, or is driven, to make some such desperate answer to the following, while professing to speak absolutely, and as a private man — from which what new and singular of social duties might be inferred? "The manner," says he, "in which the governments of the States where slavery exists are to regulate it is for their own consideration, under the responsibility to their constituents, to the general laws of propriety, humanity, and justice, and to God. Associations formed elsewhere, springing from a feeling of humanity, or any other cause, have nothing whatever to do with it. They have never received any encouragement from me and they never will. [These extracts have been inserted since the lecture was read — HDT]

They who know of no purer sources of truth, who have traced up its stream no higher, stand, and wisely stand, by the Bible and the Constitution, and drink at it there with reverence and humanity; but they who behold where it comes trickling into this lake or that pool, gird up their loins once more, and continue their pilgrimage toward its fountainhead.

No man with a genius for legislation has appeared in America. They are rare in the history of the world. There are orators, politicians, and eloquent men, by the thousand; but the speaker has not yet opened his mouth to speak who is capable of settling the much-vexed questions of the day. We love eloquence for its own sake, and not for any truth which it may utter, or any heroism it may inspire. Our legislators have not yet learned the comparative value of free trade and of freed, of union, and of rectitude, to a nation. They have no genius or talent for comparatively humble questions of taxation and finance, commerce and manufactures and agriculture. If we were left solely to the wordy wit of legislators in Congress for our guidance, uncorrected by the seasonable experience and the effectual complaints of the people, America would not long retain her rank among the nations. For eighteen hundred years, though perchance I have no right to say it, the New Testament has been written; yet where is the legislator who has wisdom and practical talent enough to avail himself of the light which it sheds on the science of legislation.

The authority of government, even such as I am willing to submit to — for I will cheerfully obey those who know and can do better than I, and in many things even those who neither know nor can do so well — is still an impure one: to be strictly just, it must have the sanction and consent of the governed. It can have no pure right over my person and property but what I concede to it. The progress from an absolute to a limited monarchy, from a limited monarchy to a democracy, is a progress toward a true respect for the individual. Even the Chinese philosopher was wise enough to regard the individual as the basis of the empire. Is a democracy, such as we know it, the last improvement possible in government? Is it not possible to take a step further towards recognizing and organizing the rights of man? There will never be a really free and enlightened State until the State comes to recognize the individual as a higher and independent power, from which all its own power and authority are derived, and treats him accordingly. I please myself with imagining a State at last which can afford to be just to all men, and to treat the individual with respect as a neighbor; which even would not think it inconsistent with its own repose if a few were to live aloof from it, not meddling with it, nor embraced by it, who fulfilled all the duties of neighbors and fellow men. A State which bore this kind of fruit, and suffered it to drop off as fast as it ripened, would prepare the way for a still more perfect and glorious State, which I have also imagined, but not yet anywhere seen.

Public opinion matters

Even gun owners and NRA members overwhelmingly support background checks2 — although the NRA’s leadership opposes background checks and is at odds with its own members.3

Let’s make sure members of Congress listen to their constituents and not the gun lobby. Call your Senators right now and ask them to support the Fix Gun Checks Act:

http://DemandAPlan.org/100percent

Thanks for supporting common sense reform and spreading the word!

Mayors Against Illegal Guns
______________
1. «Background Checks Overwhelmingly Supported By Gun Owners In 4 States,» January 21, 2013.
2. «Does the NRA agree with Wayne LaPierre?» January 31, 2013.
3. «NRA Supported Universal Background Checks After Columbine Massacre,» January 31, 2013.


As a strong proponent of the Second Amendment, I believe it is essential to safeguard the law-abiding citizen’s constitutional right to own and use firearms designed for legitimate purposes such as hunting, target shooting, collecting, and self-protection.  Restricting this right runs counter to the intent of our Founding Fathers, who expressly guaranteed that citizens would retain the right to keep and bear arms.  

It is encouraging that the Supreme Court has upheld the will of our Founders and re-affirmed the ideals our country was established upon.  The Supreme Court’s decision in District of Columbia v. Heller provides a greater guarantee that Americans’ Constitutional rights remain secure from federal government intrusion.  I was proud to sign an amicus brief to the Supreme Court in that case stating an individual’s right to bear arms is fundamental.  This historic ruling continues to have implications far beyond the District of Columbia.  In 2010, the Supreme Court decided in McDonald v. City of Chicago to strike down the arbitrary gun ban in Chicago—and thereby affirm that the Second Amendment safeguards against state and local encroachments on the fundamental right to keep and bear arms.
As a former Texas Supreme Court Justice and Attorney General, I have firsthand knowledge of crime-fighting policies that work, and I believe that citizens’ Second Amendment rights should not be restricted because of the actions of criminals.  Rather, we must focus our attention on the source of violent crime: criminals who use firearms to commit crimes.  I believe that strictly enforcing the law—and meting out tougher sentences for career criminals and those who use firearms when committing crimes—will reduce crime more effectively than gun or equipment bans, which primarily serve to take firearms away from law-abiding citizens.
I appreciate the opportunity to represent Texans in the United States Senate, and you may be certain that I will continue working with my colleagues to protect our Second Amendment rights.  Thank you for taking the time to contact me.
Sincerely,
JOHN CORNYN
United States Senator
517 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Tel: (202) 224-2934
Fax: (202) 228-2856
Please sign up for my monthly newsletter at http://www.cornyn.senate.gov/newsletter.
PLEASE NOTE:
Due to the nature of electronic communication, if you did not receive this e-mail directly from my office, I cannot guarantee that the text has not been altered.  If you have questions about the validity of this message, or would like to respond to this message, please use the web form available at my website, http://www.cornyn.senate.gov/contact.


My nine-year-old daughter, Christina-Taylor Green, was murdered with a gun in Tucson, Arizona two years ago today.

Since that day, far too many families have gone through similar pain.

Families in Aurora, Colorado. Families in Newtown, Connecticut. Families of the 33 people who are murdered with guns every single day across America.

How many more families need to feel that pain before our leaders take action? What will it take for them to find the courage to stand up to the gun lobby?

Today, please watch the TV ad I made with Mayors Against Illegal Guns and join me in calling on your leaders in Congress to Demand A Plan to end gun violence.


It’s past time for our leaders to take action.

Please make a donation of $35 or more to support the fight to end gun violence.

This July, I went to see a midnight movie with a couple of friends in Aurora, Colorado. Our fun night out turned into a nightmare.

At first, I thought it was a prank — just some kids setting off fireworks. But when I realized what was happening, I immediately thought about other mass shootings: Columbine. Virginia Tech. Tucson.

Could what happened there actually be happening to us? The terrifying answer was yes, and Aurora is now part of that list.

My friends and I were lucky. We were among the 58 people who survived their injuries. But twelve others weren’t so lucky.

In the weeks that followed, we heard a lot of promises from politicians. Unfortunately, those promises didn’t go anywhere. And now, not even six months later, the list of mass shootings has grown again:Newtown.

Is there anything more horrible than the mass murder of innocent children? Do we need a clearer reason to finally take action?

The time is NOW! Join me in supporting the fight to end gun violence with a donation of $35 or more to Mayors Against Illegal Guns and the Demand A Plan campaign.

My survival, and the survival of my friends, was arbitrary. It all came down to where we chose our seats, where the shooter aimed his gun, where the bullets entered our bodies.

We can’t let fate be the difference between life and death in our country.

We need a real plan to end gun violence — a plan to stop mass shootings and protect the 33 people murdered every day with guns. We need to stop dangerous people from getting their hands on deadly weapons.

Will you step up and support our fight?

http://DemandAPlan.org/now

Thank you,

Stephen Barton
Mayors Against Illegal Guns

P.S. — I grew up just ten minutes from Sandy Hook Elementary. My heart goes out to the families of Newtown, and I’m committed to making sure our leaders hear their voices and take action. Your support today can make the difference.


That line of defense from gun proponents comes up again and again in the wake of mass shootings, like last week’s at Sandy Hook elementary school that left 20 children and seven adults dead. It’s true, in a sense: when holding objects that are specifically designed to be the most effective killing machines possible, people do, in fact, kill people.
And yes, people have gone on murderous rampages for all of human history, and have used whatever tools were at their disposal – rocks, knives, swords, their own hands – to inflict violence. The problem comes in when the tools at their disposal are really good at killing others without much work on the part of the killer, which is why lots of folks would like to see the United States institute some reasonable laws regulating gun ownership.
Time and again, though, the pro-gun right’s answer is the same: people will find a way to kill, and violence is inevitable, so taking away guns won’t work. Their solution seems to be a society where every citizen has a gun in one hand and crossed fingers on the other.

That perspective represents not just an intense cultural tie to guns, but a typically conservative view of humanity: people (other than me) are fundamentally bad and our time on Earth is in preparation for the afterlife, so why worry about making it better?

As we’ve seen in the debates on issues from climate change to gender equality to foreign policy, facts, statistics and rational arguments don’t really matter if the goal of offering them up is to improve things in the here and now. It’s a deeply pessimistic view of humanity that projects a strong sense of fatalism.
The point of being «good» isn’t because goodness is valuable unto itself or because goodness is widely beneficial. The point of being good is to earn heaven points. Goodness, then, is defined according to a very particular set of religious and cultural values, and is highly «in-group» focused. Goodness means going to church, marrying early, submitting to a husband-in-charge family structure, having children out of obligationand upholding the social pillars that organize society to keep a particular group on top.
Goodness isn’t necessarily helping other people or taking steps that are proven effective at decreasing violence or working to create a more accepting and happy world for our children. Goodness is upholding the power structures that have traditionally benefited the small group of men who think they have a monopoly on defining «goodness.»
Without strong social incentives and harsh social punishments for deviation from these structures, they collapse – and they collapse because they simply don’t serve large swaths of the American population (women who want equal rights, people of color, immigrants, poor people, non-Christians, gay people). There isn’t much of a reason for why these particular structures are the best, other than that the few people who benefit from them seem to like them. But the fundamental argument in their favor seems to be that without a social organization that puts white Christian men on top, the hordes of «bad» people will simply be out there – and there is nothing we can do other than arm ourselves against them.
That’s why «guns don’t kill people, people kill people» is still considered an actual argument. It’s why the debates on gun control go in circles. One side thinks we have serious but fixable cultural problems with violence, with a masculinity that is tied to aggression and with the glorification of gun culture, and that the wide availability of all sorts of deadly weaponry in such a culture enables an unconscionable amount of lethal violence. The other side thinks people are just sinners, our time on this planet is meant to be trying and ugly, guns represent freedom and man’s dominion over the Earth, and gun deaths simply result from a lack of Christianity and the attendant breaks from a «traditional» model that necessitated the oppression of a great many Americans.
As Dennis Prager argued in the National Review, no one fears being massacred by a «decent» person. We fear being massacred by someone bad.
It is certainly true that «good» people don’t walk into a classroom and shoot a group of six year-olds. It’s also true that good people don’t murder their wives and girlfriends – yet five times more women are killed by intimate partners every year than by strangers, and 95% of the women who are killed with a firearm are murdered by a man. If there’s a gun involved, an incident of domestic violence is 12 times more likely to result in death. And while mass shootings understandably capture our national attention, the more than 30,000 American gun deaths every year (and their $37bn price tag) should spur us to action.
It’s easy to read those figures and conclude that conservatives are right: we are a world of awful, violent people who are going to keep on being awful and violent no matter what, so gun control serves no purpose and we’ll all be better off in Heaven anyway. But as is true with almost anything that makes life on Earth brutish and miserable, we have the power to change that. Gun deaths are lower in the states with the strictest gun control laws. And the majority of US gun deaths actually comprises suicides – acts committed not generally by evil, murderous people, but by individuals who are sick and hurting and need help.
Many other gun deaths occur in neighborhoods plagued by violence and poverty. What’s clear is that while some gun homicides are surely meticulously plotted by an evil-doer who would find a different weapon if no guns were available, the vast majority is lethal specifically because a gun was readily available.
The solutions, then, must be multifold: poverty alleviation; better mental health care with a focus on suicide prevention and depression treatment, not the stigmatization of the mentally ill, who are more likely to be the victims of violence than the perpetrators; and yes, gun control to make it more difficult for a firearm to be such an easily-accessed weapon.
To most people who believe in evidence-based policy and sociological realities, those solutions make sense. But to people who have no interest in actually finding solutions or making the world a better, safer, happier place, it’s like talking to a brick wall. Why improve life on earth if life on earth is temporary and all that matters is to secure a seat in the clouds?
That’s why you hear people like Mike Huckabee saying that mass shootings are somehow related to prayer in school and contraception, or Charlotte Allen arguing that the decline of traditional gender roles led to these shootings and that husky 12-year-old boys should throw their bodies at armed men.
Huckabee doesn’t actually think that saying prayers prevents gun violence or that contraception makes killers go on shooting sprees, any more than Allen believes that 12-year-old boys are made of Kevlar. They think that the world is divided into sinners and repentant sinners, and the only way to be a «decent» person is to fall in line behind their very narrow, often very harmful, beliefs.
Gun deaths, of course, are significantly more common in the most religious states of the nation. And gun deaths are very low in the relatively non-religiously-observant states of northern Europe. In the UK, the homicide by firearm rate is approximately one in a million. Ditto in France. That must be nice. More people are killed by guns in the US every day than in an entire year in Japan – by a factor of about 12.
Every nation in the world has people who are sadistic and violent or sick and violent. And yet, the kinds of regular mass rampages that have now happened several times this year alone in the United States seem to be a specifically American phenomenon.
As the Sandy Hook shootings unfolded, I watched many of the journalists I follow on Twitter post links to the articles about gun violence that they had written after the previous mass shooting, or the one before that. I watched friends on Facebook like and link to the inevitable memorial pages, this time around noting the too-short lives of 20 smiling kids who were practically infants, ensuring readers and supporters that these little angels are now safely in Heaven.
That’s an impulse I understand, but it’s not a solution.
Only in America do political writers all seem have a stable of articles about mass shootings that they can bring out and repost or revise when the next one occurs.
Only in America do we collectively shrug our shoulders when yet another young white man goes on a shooting spree.
Only in America do we remain convinced that people will kill no matter what, so we may as well give people virtually unlimited access to some of the deadliest hand-held weapons ever invented.
Only here, in America, do we think that the best we can do is a Facebook page and a plea to God.


More than 31,000 Americans have signed a petition calling for British TV host Piers Morgan to be deported.

They are angry about his advocacy of gun control, in the wake of the 14 December shootings in Connecticut.

The petition followed an interview with Larry Pratt, director of Gun Owners of America, on CNN – in which Mr Morgan called his guest «a dangerous man».

Petitions posted on the White House website only require 25,000 signatures to get a response from the government.

The campaign was started by a journalist in Texas following Mr Morgan’s CNN programme of 19 December.

The petition says the talk show host «is engaged in a hostile attack against the US Constitution by targeting the Second Amendment», which protects an individual’s right to own guns.

«We demand that Mr Morgan be deported immediately for his effort to undermine the Bill of Rights and for exploiting his position as a national network television host to stage attacks against the rights of American citizens.»

Mr Morgan has responded, repeatedly, on his Twitter account.

«If I do get deported from America for wanting fewer gun murders, are there any other countries that will have me?» the 47-year-old joked after the 25,000-signature threshold was passed.

He added: «Wanting America to ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines isn’t anti-constitutional – it’s called ‘common sense.'»

Later he said, in a reference to the Constitution’s guarantee of freedom of speech: «Ironic US gun rights campaign to deport me for ‘attacking Second Amendment rights’ – is my opinion not protected under 1st Amendment rights?»

In the wake of the shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, President Obama has vowed to push for immediate and concrete gun safety proposals.

But the pro-gun National Rifle Association (NRA), which has more than four million members, has rejected the need for tighter gun control. According to the Small Arms Survey, there were 88.8 firearms for every 100 Americans in 2007.

‘Stupid man’
Mr Morgan’s interview, on his nightly chat show, came five days after gunman Adam Lanza killed 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary school.

Mr Pratt said tighter controls on gun sales would not put an end to similar tragedies.

«The problem occurs in those areas precisely where we have said ‘no guns’,» he said.

Mr Morgan hosts a nightly chat show on news network CNN
«Where the guns are allowed freely to be carried… we have very low murder rates.

«We only have problems in our cities and, unhappily, in our schools, where people like you have been able to get laws put on the books that keep people from being able to defend themselves.»

Mr Morgan responded: «You’re a very stupid man, aren’t you?

«You have absolutely no coherent argument. You don’t actually give a damn about the gun murder rate in America.»

He ended the combative interview by calling Mr Pratt «a dangerous man espousing dangerous nonsense» and declared, «you shame your country».


The tone deaf and horrifyingly self-serving speech given by Wayne LaPierre of the National Rifle Association on Friday cast a pall over our holiday season. It took the NRA a full week to prepare THIS?

1. Blamed video games for massacre of 6-year-olds and elementary school teachers. No evidence video games implicated.

2. Blamed movies for massacre of 6-year-olds and elementary school teachers. No evidence movies implicated.

3. Urged creation of 100,000-strong new Federal bureaucracy of armed school guards, which implies big tax increase. Thanks, Wayne! (And did not mention that Columbine had an armed guard or that Virginia Tech has its own police department.)

4. Condemned “gun-free schools” policy as insane.

5. Scaremongered about rise in violent crime. Murder rate in US cut in half since 1990, but did not mention that firearms murder rate remains highest among advanced countries.

6. Condemns confusion of semi-automatic guns with “machine guns.” Does not mention how many bullets a minute a semi-automatic gun with expanded clip can shoot.

7. Seems to call for armed adult volunteers to show up at our elementary schools to engage in vigilante ‘guarding’ of them. Are these likely the people we want in our schools?

8. Wants cordons around schools instead of gun control.

9. Offers to train elementary school children in use of firearms.

10. Does not mention that semi-automatic rifles were designed for military use and are not necessary for hunting, or that they are banned for civilians among all our NATO allies.


Mayors Against Illegal Guns

Today’s NRA press conference was a shameful evasion of the crisis our country is facing. Their proposed solution to reduce mass shootings like the one in Newtown, CT: put armed guards in every school in America.
The NRA’s extreme leadership has completely lost touch with the American people, their members, and reality. Today, they made it even more clear with what they didn’t say:
Not a word about background checks. Not a word about assault weapons and high capacity magazines. Not a word about ending gun trafficking.
Not an ounce of common sense.
Please join me in rejecting the NRA’s vision of a world where everyone is armed and no one is safe.
You would think that following the execution of 20 first graders, the NRA would finally come around to the need for common sense gun laws. Instead, they doubled down on their extreme agenda.
What we need are the tough new laws that we know will keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people and protect our children.
What we don’t need is a culture of fear that increases gun sales while putting our families at even greater risk.
Tell your members of Congress that it’s time to stand up to the NRA:
Thanks you for standing against the gun lobby,
Mark Glaze
Mayors Against Illegal Guns
P.S. — A group of 53 artists joined our effort to Demand A Plan and recorded a powerful, personal message. Please take a minute to watch the video and share it with your friends and family:http://DemandAPlan.org.


(Reuters) – Gun makers are facing pressure from some major U.S. investors after the Newtown elementary school shooting, with private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management LP announcing it would sell the largest U.S. manufacturer of firearms and major public pension funds reviewing their gun-related investments.

Cerberus said on Tuesday it would sell Freedom Group, whose AR-15-type Bushmaster rifle was used by a 20-year-old gunman to kill 20 children and six staff in Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

Cerberus’ move came after some of its investors had expressed concerns, including the California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS), which said on Monday that it was reviewing its investment with the private equity firm.

«It is apparent that the Sandy Hook tragedy was a watershed event that has raised the national debate on gun control to an unprecedented level,» said Cerberus, which has more than $20 billion under management.

The $150.1 billion New York State Common Retirement Fund is reviewing its investments in firearm manufacturers, a spokesman for New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said on Tuesday.

New York City’s pension funds are also reviewing investments and may sell nearly $18 million worth of stock in four companies that manufacture guns and ammunition, a spokesman said on Tuesday. The city’s mayor, Michael Bloomberg, has been a leading advocate for gun control in the U.S.

The city’s $128 billion pension funds hold nearly $14 million worth of shares in ammunition maker Olin Corp, $1.7 million in gun maker Smith & Wesson Holding Corp, $2.4 million in gun maker Sturm Ruger & Co Inc and $17,866 worth of stock in Brazilian gun maker Forjas Taurus SA.

Shares of Smith & Wesson fell nearly 10 percent, shares of Sturm Roger fell 7.7 percent, shares of Forjas Taurus fell 3.8 percent and shares of Olin fell 2.1 percent on Tuesday.

It wasn’t just public pension funds who were questioning whether they should have investments in gun companies.

King Lip, chief investment officer for San Francisco-based wealth adviser Baker Avenue Asset Management, said has received calls from clients wanting to make sure that the firm did not own or buy shares in gun-makers or gun-related companies.

«This one has especially hit close to home for a lot of people. A lot of our clients have kids or grandkids,» said Lip, whose firm has about $800 million in client assets under management. The firm does not own any gun-related stocks.

As outrage grew over the killings in Newtown, some gun retailers pulled rifles off their shelves. Wal-Mart Stores Inc, the world’s largest retailer, took down an informational website about semi-automatic Bushmaster rifles.

Dick’s Sporting Goods pulled all guns from its store closest to the site of the massacre, and suspended the sale of certain kinds of semi-automatic rifles from its chains nationwide. Cabela’s however, continued to advertise the AR-15 type Bushmaster rifles on its website.

California Treasurer Bill Lockyer on Monday asked CalSTRS and the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) to account for their investments in gun manufacturers. Lockyer proposed that the state’s public pension funds, the largest in the United States, sell their interest in any company that makes guns that are illegal under California’s assault weapons ban. California’s ban includes the Bushmaster rifle.

«We are not precluding the possibility of extending a divestment move to the retail sector, but right now we are focused on the source, which is the manufacturers,» Lockyer’s spokesman Tom Dresslar said.

KNEE-JERK REACTION?

U.S. lawmakers have not approved a major new federal gun law since 1994, and a ban on certain semi-automatic rifles known as assault weapons expired in 2004.

The Newtown killings have led President Barack Obama and some congressional leaders to reconsider what has been a largely hands-off approach to gun control in recent years.

The percentage of Americans favoring tough gun regulations rose significantly after the killings at the Connecticut school, a Reuters/Ipsos poll showed on Monday.

While the latest moves by investors could herald a new chapter in corporate America’s stance toward the issue of gun rights, it remains to be seen if they will have lasting effects.

Several investors held firm about investing in gun-related stocks, seeing the debate more as a knee-jerk reaction to a tragedy. Vanguard Group Inc, the largest shareholder in Smith & Wesson, for example, said it was not in a position to meet what it called the «social concerns» of all shareholders.

Vanguard said in a statement it was «deeply saddened by the tragedy» but that most of its shares in Smith & Wesson and Sturm Ruger were held in index funds.

«All these stocks are getting hit, but ironically I think what we’ll find is that traditional gun purchases will actually rise,» said Timothy Ghriskey, chief investment officer of Solaris Asset Management in New York.

«People are scared, and there’s a good slice of America that very much believes they have a right to protect themselves,» said Ghriskey, whose firm has a small position in gun retailer Cabela’s. Cabela’s shares fell 5.9 percent.

A German fund manager, who focuses on «sin» stocks such as firearms, alcohol and gambling, said he was sticking with his recommendation to buy Smith & Wesson stock despite Newtown.

It’s a terrible tragedy, he said, «but everyone who changes his investment strategy now should ask himself if he really is surprised. Didn’t they read newspapers in the past?»

CERBERUS DELIBERATION

Still, investor outrage over the shooting was enough for Cerberus to decide to sell Freedom Group.

The firm’s decision came late on Monday night, after executives deliberated on the impact of the shooting, according to a person familiar with the matter who spoke on condition of anonymity because the discussions were private.

The private equity firm, which was founded by Stephen Feinberg and William Richter in 1992, also has to be careful not to anger investors at a time it is seeking to raise up to $3.5 billion for a new buyout fund.

Feinberg’s father, Martin Feinberg, is also a resident of Newtown, Bloomberg reported on Tuesday, citing an interview with him. Public records show a Martin Feinberg residing in a retirement facility in Newtown.

Cerberus bought firearms maker Bushmaster in 2006 and later merged it with other gun companies to create Freedom Group, which reported net sales of $677 million for the nine months ended September, up from $565 million a year earlier.

Cerberus filed for an initial public offering of Freedom Group in October 2009 but withdrew the registration in April 2011, without offering a reason.

«It’s an unusual move by Cerberus but it was a terrible event, so they are responding to some of their investors who are teachers’ funds. I’m sure they will be selling it at a low price because now would not be a good time to sell the business,» said Steven Kaplan, a University of Chicago finance professor.

(Additional reporting by Martine Geller, Hilary Russ and Ashley Lau in New York, Lisa Baertlein and Peter Henderson in Los Angeles and Dan Burns in Newtown, Connecticut; Editing by Paritosh Bansal, Tiffany Wu and Michael Perry)


Dec 18 (Reuters) – The National Rifle Association said on Tuesday it is «prepared to offer meaningful contributions» to prevent future massacres like the Connecticut shooting on Friday, marking a sharp change in tone for the nation’s largest gun rights group.

«The National Rifle Association of America is made up of four million moms and dads, sons and daughters – and we were shocked, saddened and heartbroken by the news of the horrific and senseless murders in Newtown,» the organization said in a statement sent to reporters.

The NRA plans a news conference on Friday after staying silent out of respect for families in Newtown, Connecticut, and as a matter of common decency, the statement said.


It turns out that the Newtown shooter used a semi-automatic Bushmaster rifle and he had lots of thirty-round high-capacity clips for it. Authorities have revealed that each of the 20 children and six adults he killed was shot multiple times, but given the number of clips Lanza brought with him, the number of victims could have been much, much higher. The Federal ban on weapons such as the Bushmaster, in place 1994-2004, was allowed to lapse by the George W. Bush administration and his Republican Congress, all of whom received massive campaign donations from the gun lobby. There is a Connecticut ban, but the maker of the Bushmaster used a loophole in the poorly written state law to continue to sell the gun in the state. The Bushmaster is manufactured by a subsidiary of the Wall Street hedge fund, Cerberus Capital Management, called the “Freedom Group”– which also owns Remington and DPMS Firearms. It is the largest single maker of semi-automatic rifles in the US, and they are expected to be a major growing profit center in the coming years. The Freedom Group was sued over the Washington, DC, sniper attacks, and paid $500,000 without admitting culpability.


A US private equity firm has said it is to sell its stake in the maker of the AR15-style rifle used in the Newtown school shootings.

Cerberus Capital Management’s move came after pressure from one of its own biggest investors, the California State Teachers’ Retirement System (Calstrs).

Cerberus bought Bushmaster in 2006, and more gunmakers since, merging them into Freedom Group, which it will now sell.

The firm said it wanted to avoid being drawn into the gun control controversy.

The announcement by Cerberus comes four days after 20 young children and six adults were killed by 20-year-old gunman Adam Lanza at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. Mr Lanza then killed himself.

He had earlier killed his mother at her home before travelling to the school.

The murders have renewed the debate over the need for gun control in the US, with President Barack Obama promising «meaningful action», and adding that «as a country, we have been through this too many times».

The National Rifle Association, the largest pro-gun rights organisation in the US, has not commented since the mass shooting.

Politicians previously against more gun control have also generally been quiet, while one, Virginia Democrat Mark Warner, said the Newtown attack had made him rethink his opposition to a ban on assault weapons.

However, gun control is difficult to tighten in the US, because the second amendment of the country’s constitution guarantees the «right to keep and bear arms».

‘Senseless violence’
«We believe that this decision allows us to meet our obligations to the investors whose interests we are entrusted to protect without being drawn into the national debate that is more properly pursued by those with the formal charter and public responsibility to do so,» Cerberus said in a statement.

«We do not believe that Freedom Group or any single company or individual can prevent senseless violence or the illegal use or procurement of firearms and ammunition,» the firm added, noting that Freedom Group only sold weapons to federally licensed dealers and distributors, and not directly to US citizens.

Freedom Group claims to be the world’s largest manufacturer of commercial firearms, selling over two billion rounds of ammunition each year.

As well as Bushmaster, the maker of the AR15-style rifle, Freedom Group also owns Remington, the oldest US gunmaker established in 1816, and seven other gun arms manufacturers, as well as majority stakes in two clothing companies specialising in hunting and paramilitary apparel.

The group made profits before tax of $2.7m in the 12 months to September 2012, on $875m of sales.

Calstrs, which is the second largest pension fund in the US, had said on Monday that it was reviewing its own $750m (£460m) investment in Cerberus in light of the deaths of 20 school children and seven adults including teachers at Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut last Friday.

Cerberus, which is one of the biggest private equity firms in the world with over $20bn of assets under management, said that the shootings represented «a watershed event that has raised the national debate on gun control to an unprecedented level».

Proceeds from the sale of Freedom Group would be returned to Cerberus’ investors, and not reinvested by the firm.

Even gun owners and NRA members overwhelmingly support background checks2 -- although the NRA's leadership opposes background checks and is at odds with its own members.3

Let's make sure members of Congress listen to their constituents and not the gun lobby. Call your Senators right now and ask them to support the Fix Gun Checks Act:

http://DemandAPlan.org/100percent

Thanks for supporting common sense reform and spreading the word!

Mayors Against Illegal Guns
______________
1. "Background Checks Overwhelmingly Supported By Gun Owners In 4 States," January 21, 2013.
2. "Does the NRA agree with Wayne LaPierre?" January 31, 2013.
3. "NRA Supported Universal Background Checks After Columbine Massacre," January 31, 2013.





As a strong proponent of the Second Amendment, I believe it is essential to safeguard the law-abiding citizen's constitutional right to own and use firearms designed for legitimate purposes such as hunting, target shooting, collecting, and self-protection.  Restricting this right runs counter to the intent of our Founding Fathers, who expressly guaranteed that citizens would retain the right to keep and bear arms.  

It is encouraging that the Supreme Court has upheld the will of our Founders and re-affirmed the ideals our country was established upon.  The Supreme Court's decision in District of Columbia v. Heller provides a greater guarantee that Americans' Constitutional rights remain secure from federal government intrusion.  I was proud to sign an amicus brief to the Supreme Court in that case stating an individual’s right to bear arms is fundamental.  This historic ruling continues to have implications far beyond the District of Columbia.  In 2010, the Supreme Court decided in McDonald v. City of Chicago to strike down the arbitrary gun ban in Chicago—and thereby affirm that the Second Amendment safeguards against state and local encroachments on the fundamental right to keep and bear arms.
As a former Texas Supreme Court Justice and Attorney General, I have firsthand knowledge of crime-fighting policies that work, and I believe that citizens' Second Amendment rights should not be restricted because of the actions of criminals.  Rather, we must focus our attention on the source of violent crime: criminals who use firearms to commit crimes.  I believe that strictly enforcing the law—and meting out tougher sentences for career criminals and those who use firearms when committing crimes—will reduce crime more effectively than gun or equipment bans, which primarily serve to take firearms away from law-abiding citizens.
I appreciate the opportunity to represent Texans in the United States Senate, and you may be certain that I will continue working with my colleagues to protect our Second Amendment rights.  Thank you for taking the time to contact me.
Sincerely,
JOHN CORNYN
United States Senator
517 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Tel: (202) 224-2934
Fax: (202) 228-2856
Please sign up for my monthly newsletter at http://www.cornyn.senate.gov/newsletter.
PLEASE NOTE:
Due to the nature of electronic communication, if you did not receive this e-mail directly from my office, I cannot guarantee that the text has not been altered.  If you have questions about the validity of this message, or would like to respond to this message, please use the web form available at my website, http://www.cornyn.senate.gov/contact.





My nine-year-old daughter, Christina-Taylor Green, was murdered with a gun in Tucson, Arizona two years ago today.

Since that day, far too many families have gone through similar pain.

Families in Aurora, Colorado. Families in Newtown, Connecticut. Families of the 33 people who are murdered with guns every single day across America.

How many more families need to feel that pain before our leaders take action? What will it take for them to find the courage to stand up to the gun lobby?

Today, please watch the TV ad I made with Mayors Against Illegal Guns and join me in calling on your leaders in Congress to Demand A Plan to end gun violence.







It’s past time for our leaders to take action.

Please make a donation of $35 or more to support the fight to end gun violence.

???This July, I went to see a midnight movie with a couple of friends in Aurora, Colorado. Our fun night out turned into a nightmare.

At first, I thought it was a prank -- just some kids setting off fireworks. But when I realized what was happening, I immediately thought about other mass shootings: Columbine. Virginia Tech. Tucson.

Could what happened there actually be happening to us? The terrifying answer was yes, and Aurora is now part of that list.

My friends and I were lucky. We were among the 58 people who survived their injuries. But twelve others weren’t so lucky.

In the weeks that followed, we heard a lot of promises from politicians. Unfortunately, those promises didn’t go anywhere. And now, not even six months later, the list of mass shootings has grown again:Newtown.

Is there anything more horrible than the mass murder of innocent children? Do we need a clearer reason to finally take action?

The time is NOW! Join me in supporting the fight to end gun violence with a donation of $35 or more to Mayors Against Illegal Guns and the Demand A Plan campaign.

My survival, and the survival of my friends, was arbitrary. It all came down to where we chose our seats, where the shooter aimed his gun, where the bullets entered our bodies.

We can’t let fate be the difference between life and death in our country.

We need a real plan to end gun violence -- a plan to stop mass shootings and protect the 33 people murdered every day with guns. We need to stop dangerous people from getting their hands on deadly weapons.

Will you step up and support our fight?

http://DemandAPlan.org/now

Thank you,

Stephen Barton
Mayors Against Illegal Guns

P.S. -- I grew up just ten minutes from Sandy Hook Elementary. My heart goes out to the families of Newtown, and I'm committed to making sure our leaders hear their voices and take action. Your support today can make the difference.






That line of defense from gun proponents comes up again and again in the wake of mass shootings, like last week's at Sandy Hook elementary school that left 20 children and seven adults dead. It's true, in a sense: when holding objects that are specifically designed to be the most effective killing machines possible, people do, in fact, kill people.
And yes, people have gone on murderous rampages for all of human history, and have used whatever tools were at their disposal – rocks, knives, swords, their own hands – to inflict violence. The problem comes in when the tools at their disposal are really good at killing others without much work on the part of the killer, which is why lots of folks would like to see the United States institute some reasonable laws regulating gun ownership.
Time and again, though, the pro-gun right's answer is the same: people will find a way to kill, and violence is inevitable, so taking away guns won't work. Their solution seems to be a society where every citizen has a gun in one hand and crossed fingers on the other.



That perspective represents not just an intense cultural tie to guns, but a typically conservative view of humanity: people (other than me) are fundamentally bad and our time on Earth is in preparation for the afterlife, so why worry about making it better?
As we've seen in the debates on issues from climate change to gender equality to foreign policy, facts, statistics and rational arguments don't really matter if the goal of offering them up is to improve things in the here and now. It's a deeply pessimistic view of humanity that projects a strong sense of fatalism.
The point of being "good" isn't because goodness is valuable unto itself or because goodness is widely beneficial. The point of being good is to earn heaven points. Goodness, then, is defined according to a very particular set of religious and cultural values, and is highly "in-group" focused. Goodness means going to church, marrying early, submitting to a husband-in-charge family structure, having children out of obligationand upholding the social pillars that organize society to keep a particular group on top.
Goodness isn't necessarily helping other people or taking steps that are proven effective at decreasing violence or working to create a more accepting and happy world for our children. Goodness is upholding the power structures that have traditionally benefited the small group of men who think they have a monopoly on defining "goodness."
Without strong social incentives and harsh social punishments for deviation from these structures, they collapse – and they collapse because they simply don't serve large swaths of the American population (women who want equal rights, people of color, immigrants, poor people, non-Christians, gay people). There isn't much of a reason for why these particular structures are the best, other than that the few people who benefit from them seem to like them. But the fundamental argument in their favor seems to be that without a social organization that puts white Christian men on top, the hordes of "bad" people will simply be out there – and there is nothing we can do other than arm ourselves against them.
That's why "guns don't kill people, people kill people" is still considered an actual argument. It's why the debates on gun control go in circles. One side thinks we have serious but fixable cultural problems with violence, with a masculinity that is tied to aggression and with the glorification of gun culture, and that the wide availability of all sorts of deadly weaponry in such a culture enables an unconscionable amount of lethal violence. The other side thinks people are just sinners, our time on this planet is meant to be trying and ugly, guns represent freedom and man's dominion over the Earth, and gun deaths simply result from a lack of Christianity and the attendant breaks from a "traditional" model that necessitated the oppression of a great many Americans.
As Dennis Prager argued in the National Review, no one fears being massacred by a "decent" person. We fear being massacred by someone bad.
It is certainly true that "good" people don't walk into a classroom and shoot a group of six year-olds. It's also true that good people don't murder their wives and girlfriends – yet five times more women are killed by intimate partners every year than by strangers, and 95% of the women who are killed with a firearm are murdered by a man. If there's a gun involved, an incident of domestic violence is 12 times more likely to result in death. And while mass shootings understandably capture our national attention, the more than 30,000 American gun deaths every year (and their $37bn price tag) should spur us to action.
It's easy to read those figures and conclude that conservatives are right: we are a world of awful, violent people who are going to keep on being awful and violent no matter what, so gun control serves no purpose and we'll all be better off in Heaven anyway. But as is true with almost anything that makes life on Earth brutish and miserable, we have the power to change that. Gun deaths are lower in the states with the strictest gun control laws. And the majority of US gun deaths actually comprises suicides – acts committed not generally by evil, murderous people, but by individuals who are sick and hurting and need help.
Many other gun deaths occur in neighborhoods plagued by violence and poverty. What's clear is that while some gun homicides are surely meticulously plotted by an evil-doer who would find a different weapon if no guns were available, the vast majority is lethal specifically because a gun was readily available.
The solutions, then, must be multifold: poverty alleviation; better mental health care with a focus on suicide prevention and depression treatment, not the stigmatization of the mentally ill, who are more likely to be the victims of violence than the perpetrators; and yes, gun control to make it more difficult for a firearm to be such an easily-accessed weapon.
To most people who believe in evidence-based policy and sociological realities, those solutions make sense. But to people who have no interest in actually finding solutions or making the world a better, safer, happier place, it's like talking to a brick wall. Why improve life on earth if life on earth is temporary and all that matters is to secure a seat in the clouds?
That's why you hear people like Mike Huckabee saying that mass shootings are somehow related to prayer in school and contraception, or Charlotte Allen arguing that the decline of traditional gender roles led to these shootings and that husky 12-year-old boys should throw their bodies at armed men.
Huckabee doesn't actually think that saying prayers prevents gun violence or that contraception makes killers go on shooting sprees, any more than Allen believes that 12-year-old boys are made of Kevlar. They think that the world is divided into sinners and repentant sinners, and the only way to be a "decent" person is to fall in line behind their very narrow, often very harmful, beliefs.
Gun deaths, of course, are significantly more common in the most religious states of the nation. And gun deaths are very low in the relatively non-religiously-observant states of northern Europe. In the UK, the homicide by firearm rate is approximately one in a million. Ditto in France. That must be nice. More people are killed by guns in the US every day than in an entire year in Japan – by a factor of about 12.
Every nation in the world has people who are sadistic and violent or sick and violent. And yet, the kinds of regular mass rampages that have now happened several times this year alone in the United States seem to be a specifically American phenomenon.
As the Sandy Hook shootings unfolded, I watched many of the journalists I follow on Twitter post links to the articles about gun violence that they had written after the previous mass shooting, or the one before that. I watched friends on Facebook like and link to the inevitable memorial pages, this time around noting the too-short lives of 20 smiling kids who were practically infants, ensuring readers and supporters that these little angels are now safely in Heaven.
That's an impulse I understand, but it's not a solution.
Only in America do political writers all seem have a stable of articles about mass shootings that they can bring out and repost or revise when the next one occurs.
Only in America do we collectively shrug our shoulders when yet another young white man goes on a shooting spree.
Only in America do we remain convinced that people will kill no matter what, so we may as well give people virtually unlimited access to some of the deadliest hand-held weapons ever invented.
Only here, in America, do we think that the best we can do is a Facebook page and a plea to God.



More than 31,000 Americans have signed a petition calling for British TV host Piers Morgan to be deported.

They are angry about his advocacy of gun control, in the wake of the 14 December shootings in Connecticut.

The petition followed an interview with Larry Pratt, director of Gun Owners of America, on CNN - in which Mr Morgan called his guest "a dangerous man".

Petitions posted on the White House website only require 25,000 signatures to get a response from the government.

The campaign was started by a journalist in Texas following Mr Morgan's CNN programme of 19 December.

The petition says the talk show host "is engaged in a hostile attack against the US Constitution by targeting the Second Amendment", which protects an individual's right to own guns.

"We demand that Mr Morgan be deported immediately for his effort to undermine the Bill of Rights and for exploiting his position as a national network television host to stage attacks against the rights of American citizens."



Mr Morgan has responded, repeatedly, on his Twitter account.

"If I do get deported from America for wanting fewer gun murders, are there any other countries that will have me?" the 47-year-old joked after the 25,000-signature threshold was passed.

He added: "Wanting America to ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines isn't anti-constitutional - it's called 'common sense.'"

Later he said, in a reference to the Constitution's guarantee of freedom of speech: "Ironic US gun rights campaign to deport me for 'attacking Second Amendment rights' - is my opinion not protected under 1st Amendment rights?"

In the wake of the shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, President Obama has vowed to push for immediate and concrete gun safety proposals.

But the pro-gun National Rifle Association (NRA), which has more than four million members, has rejected the need for tighter gun control. According to the Small Arms Survey, there were 88.8 firearms for every 100 Americans in 2007.

'Stupid man'
Mr Morgan's interview, on his nightly chat show, came five days after gunman Adam Lanza killed 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary school.

Mr Pratt said tighter controls on gun sales would not put an end to similar tragedies.

"The problem occurs in those areas precisely where we have said 'no guns'," he said.


Mr Morgan hosts a nightly chat show on news network CNN
"Where the guns are allowed freely to be carried... we have very low murder rates.

"We only have problems in our cities and, unhappily, in our schools, where people like you have been able to get laws put on the books that keep people from being able to defend themselves."

Mr Morgan responded: "You're a very stupid man, aren't you?

"You have absolutely no coherent argument. You don't actually give a damn about the gun murder rate in America."

He ended the combative interview by calling Mr Pratt "a dangerous man espousing dangerous nonsense" and declared, "you shame your country".



The tone deaf and horrifyingly self-serving speech given by Wayne LaPierre of the National Rifle Association on Friday cast a pall over our holiday season. It took the NRA a full week to prepare THIS?

1. Blamed video games for massacre of 6-year-olds and elementary school teachers. No evidence video games implicated.

2. Blamed movies for massacre of 6-year-olds and elementary school teachers. No evidence movies implicated.

3. Urged creation of 100,000-strong new Federal bureaucracy of armed school guards, which implies big tax increase. Thanks, Wayne! (And did not mention that Columbine had an armed guard or that Virginia Tech has its own police department.)

4. Condemned “gun-free schools” policy as insane.

5. Scaremongered about rise in violent crime. Murder rate in US cut in half since 1990, but did not mention that firearms murder rate remains highest among advanced countries.

6. Condemns confusion of semi-automatic guns with “machine guns.” Does not mention how many bullets a minute a semi-automatic gun with expanded clip can shoot.

7. Seems to call for armed adult volunteers to show up at our elementary schools to engage in vigilante ‘guarding’ of them. Are these likely the people we want in our schools?

8. Wants cordons around schools instead of gun control.

9. Offers to train elementary school children in use of firearms.

10. Does not mention that semi-automatic rifles were designed for military use and are not necessary for hunting, or that they are banned for civilians among all our NATO allies.



Mayors Against Illegal Guns


Today's NRA press conference was a shameful evasion of the crisis our country is facing. Their proposed solution to reduce mass shootings like the one in Newtown, CT: put armed guards in every school in America.
The NRA's extreme leadership has completely lost touch with the American people, their members, and reality. Today, they made it even more clear with what they didn't say:
Not a word about background checks. Not a word about assault weapons and high capacity magazines. Not a word about ending gun trafficking.
Not an ounce of common sense.
Please join me in rejecting the NRA’s vision of a world where everyone is armed and no one is safe.
You would think that following the execution of 20 first graders, the NRA would finally come around to the need for common sense gun laws. Instead, they doubled down on their extreme agenda.
What we need are the tough new laws that we know will keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people and protect our children.
What we don’t need is a culture of fear that increases gun sales while putting our families at even greater risk.
Tell your members of Congress that it's time to stand up to the NRA:
Thanks you for standing against the gun lobby,
Mark Glaze
Mayors Against Illegal Guns
P.S. -- A group of 53 artists joined our effort to Demand A Plan and recorded a powerful, personal message. Please take a minute to watch the video and share it with your friends and family:http://DemandAPlan.org.





(Reuters) - Gun makers are facing pressure from some major U.S. investors after the Newtown elementary school shooting, with private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management LP announcing it would sell the largest U.S. manufacturer of firearms and major public pension funds reviewing their gun-related investments.

Cerberus said on Tuesday it would sell Freedom Group, whose AR-15-type Bushmaster rifle was used by a 20-year-old gunman to kill 20 children and six staff in Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

Cerberus' move came after some of its investors had expressed concerns, including the California State Teachers' Retirement System (CalSTRS), which said on Monday that it was reviewing its investment with the private equity firm.



"It is apparent that the Sandy Hook tragedy was a watershed event that has raised the national debate on gun control to an unprecedented level," said Cerberus, which has more than $20 billion under management.

The $150.1 billion New York State Common Retirement Fund is reviewing its investments in firearm manufacturers, a spokesman for New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said on Tuesday.

New York City's pension funds are also reviewing investments and may sell nearly $18 million worth of stock in four companies that manufacture guns and ammunition, a spokesman said on Tuesday. The city's mayor, Michael Bloomberg, has been a leading advocate for gun control in the U.S.

The city's $128 billion pension funds hold nearly $14 million worth of shares in ammunition maker Olin Corp, $1.7 million in gun maker Smith & Wesson Holding Corp, $2.4 million in gun maker Sturm Ruger & Co Inc and $17,866 worth of stock in Brazilian gun maker Forjas Taurus SA.

Shares of Smith & Wesson fell nearly 10 percent, shares of Sturm Roger fell 7.7 percent, shares of Forjas Taurus fell 3.8 percent and shares of Olin fell 2.1 percent on Tuesday.

It wasn't just public pension funds who were questioning whether they should have investments in gun companies.

King Lip, chief investment officer for San Francisco-based wealth adviser Baker Avenue Asset Management, said has received calls from clients wanting to make sure that the firm did not own or buy shares in gun-makers or gun-related companies.

"This one has especially hit close to home for a lot of people. A lot of our clients have kids or grandkids," said Lip, whose firm has about $800 million in client assets under management. The firm does not own any gun-related stocks.

As outrage grew over the killings in Newtown, some gun retailers pulled rifles off their shelves. Wal-Mart Stores Inc, the world's largest retailer, took down an informational website about semi-automatic Bushmaster rifles.

Dick's Sporting Goods pulled all guns from its store closest to the site of the massacre, and suspended the sale of certain kinds of semi-automatic rifles from its chains nationwide. Cabela's however, continued to advertise the AR-15 type Bushmaster rifles on its website.

California Treasurer Bill Lockyer on Monday asked CalSTRS and the California Public Employees' Retirement System (CalPERS) to account for their investments in gun manufacturers. Lockyer proposed that the state's public pension funds, the largest in the United States, sell their interest in any company that makes guns that are illegal under California's assault weapons ban. California's ban includes the Bushmaster rifle.

"We are not precluding the possibility of extending a divestment move to the retail sector, but right now we are focused on the source, which is the manufacturers," Lockyer's spokesman Tom Dresslar said.

KNEE-JERK REACTION?

U.S. lawmakers have not approved a major new federal gun law since 1994, and a ban on certain semi-automatic rifles known as assault weapons expired in 2004.

The Newtown killings have led President Barack Obama and some congressional leaders to reconsider what has been a largely hands-off approach to gun control in recent years.

The percentage of Americans favoring tough gun regulations rose significantly after the killings at the Connecticut school, a Reuters/Ipsos poll showed on Monday.

While the latest moves by investors could herald a new chapter in corporate America's stance toward the issue of gun rights, it remains to be seen if they will have lasting effects.

Several investors held firm about investing in gun-related stocks, seeing the debate more as a knee-jerk reaction to a tragedy. Vanguard Group Inc, the largest shareholder in Smith & Wesson, for example, said it was not in a position to meet what it called the "social concerns" of all shareholders.

Vanguard said in a statement it was "deeply saddened by the tragedy" but that most of its shares in Smith & Wesson and Sturm Ruger were held in index funds.

"All these stocks are getting hit, but ironically I think what we'll find is that traditional gun purchases will actually rise," said Timothy Ghriskey, chief investment officer of Solaris Asset Management in New York.

"People are scared, and there's a good slice of America that very much believes they have a right to protect themselves," said Ghriskey, whose firm has a small position in gun retailer Cabela's. Cabela's shares fell 5.9 percent.

A German fund manager, who focuses on "sin" stocks such as firearms, alcohol and gambling, said he was sticking with his recommendation to buy Smith & Wesson stock despite Newtown.

It's a terrible tragedy, he said, "but everyone who changes his investment strategy now should ask himself if he really is surprised. Didn't they read newspapers in the past?"

CERBERUS DELIBERATION

Still, investor outrage over the shooting was enough for Cerberus to decide to sell Freedom Group.

The firm's decision came late on Monday night, after executives deliberated on the impact of the shooting, according to a person familiar with the matter who spoke on condition of anonymity because the discussions were private.

The private equity firm, which was founded by Stephen Feinberg and William Richter in 1992, also has to be careful not to anger investors at a time it is seeking to raise up to $3.5 billion for a new buyout fund.

Feinberg's father, Martin Feinberg, is also a resident of Newtown, Bloomberg reported on Tuesday, citing an interview with him. Public records show a Martin Feinberg residing in a retirement facility in Newtown.

Cerberus bought firearms maker Bushmaster in 2006 and later merged it with other gun companies to create Freedom Group, which reported net sales of $677 million for the nine months ended September, up from $565 million a year earlier.

Cerberus filed for an initial public offering of Freedom Group in October 2009 but withdrew the registration in April 2011, without offering a reason.

"It's an unusual move by Cerberus but it was a terrible event, so they are responding to some of their investors who are teachers' funds. I'm sure they will be selling it at a low price because now would not be a good time to sell the business," said Steven Kaplan, a University of Chicago finance professor.

(Additional reporting by Martine Geller, Hilary Russ and Ashley Lau in New York, Lisa Baertlein and Peter Henderson in Los Angeles and Dan Burns in Newtown, Connecticut; Editing by Paritosh Bansal, Tiffany Wu and Michael Perry)



Dec 18 (Reuters) - The National Rifle Association said on Tuesday it is "prepared to offer meaningful contributions" to prevent future massacres like the Connecticut shooting on Friday, marking a sharp change in tone for the nation's largest gun rights group.

"The National Rifle Association of America is made up of four million moms and dads, sons and daughters - and we were shocked, saddened and heartbroken by the news of the horrific and senseless murders in Newtown," the organization said in a statement sent to reporters.

The NRA plans a news conference on Friday after staying silent out of respect for families in Newtown, Connecticut, and as a matter of common decency, the statement said.



It turns out that the Newtown shooter used a semi-automatic Bushmaster rifle and he had lots of thirty-round high-capacity clips for it. Authorities have revealed that each of the 20 children and six adults he killed was shot multiple times, but given the number of clips Lanza brought with him, the number of victims could have been much, much higher. The Federal ban on weapons such as the Bushmaster, in place 1994-2004, was allowed to lapse by the George W. Bush administration and his Republican Congress, all of whom received massive campaign donations from the gun lobby. There is a Connecticut ban, but the maker of the Bushmaster used a loophole in the poorly written state law to continue to sell the gun in the state. The Bushmaster is manufactured by a subsidiary of the Wall Street hedge fund, Cerberus Capital Management, called the “Freedom Group”– which also owns Remington and DPMS Firearms. It is the largest single maker of semi-automatic rifles in the US, and they are expected to be a major growing profit center in the coming years. The Freedom Group was sued over the Washington, DC, sniper attacks, and paid $500,000 without admitting culpability.



A US private equity firm has said it is to sell its stake in the maker of the AR15-style rifle used in the Newtown school shootings.

Cerberus Capital Management's move came after pressure from one of its own biggest investors, the California State Teachers' Retirement System (Calstrs).

Cerberus bought Bushmaster in 2006, and more gunmakers since, merging them into Freedom Group, which it will now sell.

The firm said it wanted to avoid being drawn into the gun control controversy.

The announcement by Cerberus comes four days after 20 young children and six adults were killed by 20-year-old gunman Adam Lanza at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. Mr Lanza then killed himself.

He had earlier killed his mother at her home before travelling to the school.

The murders have renewed the debate over the need for gun control in the US, with President Barack Obama promising "meaningful action", and adding that "as a country, we have been through this too many times".

The National Rifle Association, the largest pro-gun rights organisation in the US, has not commented since the mass shooting.

Politicians previously against more gun control have also generally been quiet, while one, Virginia Democrat Mark Warner, said the Newtown attack had made him rethink his opposition to a ban on assault weapons.

However, gun control is difficult to tighten in the US, because the second amendment of the country's constitution guarantees the "right to keep and bear arms".

'Senseless violence'
"We believe that this decision allows us to meet our obligations to the investors whose interests we are entrusted to protect without being drawn into the national debate that is more properly pursued by those with the formal charter and public responsibility to do so," Cerberus said in a statement.

"We do not believe that Freedom Group or any single company or individual can prevent senseless violence or the illegal use or procurement of firearms and ammunition," the firm added, noting that Freedom Group only sold weapons to federally licensed dealers and distributors, and not directly to US citizens.

Freedom Group claims to be the world's largest manufacturer of commercial firearms, selling over two billion rounds of ammunition each year.

As well as Bushmaster, the maker of the AR15-style rifle, Freedom Group also owns Remington, the oldest US gunmaker established in 1816, and seven other gun arms manufacturers, as well as majority stakes in two clothing companies specialising in hunting and paramilitary apparel.

The group made profits before tax of $2.7m in the 12 months to September 2012, on $875m of sales.

Calstrs, which is the second largest pension fund in the US, had said on Monday that it was reviewing its own $750m (£460m) investment in Cerberus in light of the deaths of 20 school children and seven adults including teachers at Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut last Friday.

Cerberus, which is one of the biggest private equity firms in the world with over $20bn of assets under management, said that the shootings represented "a watershed event that has raised the national debate on gun control to an unprecedented level".

Proceeds from the sale of Freedom Group would be returned to Cerberus' investors, and not reinvested by the firm.

SWAT

Dennis Gaydos, a homeless man from Palm Springs, was making his home outside of a church in the sunny Florida community without incident until a police intervention changed his life.

Gaydos says he was keeping to himself in his temporary home on the church grounds when the Palm Springs Police department SWAT team, dressed in full military garb, shot him multiple times with rubber bullets.

The close-range blast slashed off a portion of his right ear lobe and rendered his left eye a pulpy mess.

In the four years since the event, Gaydos has filed a federal lawsuit against Palm Beach County, Sheriff Ric Bradshaw and the Village of Palm Springs Police Department. The lawsuit, which was filed in late July, is in response to the SWAT team to removing him from his encampment and severely butchering him.

Other damages include “physical suffering, permanent disfigurement including the loss of use of a bodily function, injury and mental anguish.”

“What happened to Mr. Gaydos was outrageous,” says Kevin Anderson to Jose Lambiet of GossipExtra.com. Anderson, Gaydos’ police liability lawyer, adds that “the behavior of the police officers and deputies at the scene was simply unexplainable.”

The lawsuit states, with a deployed helicopter over head, “the plaintiff was overtaken by multiple deputies and police officers. The Plaintiff was not threatening harm to the officers or other individuals upon the defendants’ arrival.”

Authorities claim Gaydos refused to come out and, on the contrary, officers allegedly took action when they spotted Gaydos wielding a cell phone in one hand and a “knife” in the other.

Gaydos admits to having a cell phone in his hands at the night of the incident, but said he had just finished calling a food assistance agency.

It is believed that the food agency’s operator reported to law enforcement that Gaydos was living in underbrush by the church’s parking lot.

Gaydos claims the incident which left him blind and deaf should have never occurred since he had permission from the pastor to reside there.

Gaydos’ attorney added the artificial light in the area was more than sufficient to prevent an “accidental” shooting.

Palm Beach County records indicate the night of the incident, Gaydos didn’t have any criminal charges filed against him and was never arrested.

According to official records no knife was recovered from the scene either.


Five years after a California SWAT team raided the home of a man already imprisoned and pointed weapons at his loved ones, a Ninth Circuit panel will allow the family of Javier Bravo Jr. to sue the detective working the case.

The SWAT team in Santa Maria, California burst opened the door of Hope and Javier Bravo’s home in 2006 looking for their son over alleged connections with a drive-by shooting. Authorities were looking for the younger Bravo and believed he had hidden weapons involved in a 2006 drive-by shooting, but were unable to locate him after they stormed the house shortly after 5 a.m.

As luck would have it, Bravo was already behind bars. His incarceration was clearly listed on the search warrant obtained by Detective Louis Tanore, though authorities neglected to notice it before drawing weapons on the criminal’s family.

After pointing assault weapons at the 8-year-old grandson of the Bravos, the child ran off to the bathroom screaming. Hope Bravo then produced a letter penned by her son that was mailed from prison as to proof of his incarceration. As noted on the rap sheet attached to the warrant, Javier Jr. had been behind bars for six months already at the time of the raid.

At the time of the incident, a District Court judge ruled in favor of the authorities and argued that the fact that Javier Jr. was imprisoned at the time was irrelevant to the raid. Last Friday, however, a federal appeals court reversed the decision, allowing the family to go after the detective and others involved.

According to Judge Michael Daly Hawkins, the police “had no evidence that Mr. and Mrs. Bravo or E.B. were involved in the April 21 shooting or that during a period in which Javier Junior was not residing in their home they would have assisted Tangas gang members in concealing evidence, and specifically in concealing evidence from the shooting.” Further, the judge went after the detective and charged that his “generalized statements in the affidavit that it is ‘common’ for families of gang members to assist other members of the gang are insufficient to support probable cause to search the Bravos’ home.”


A Seattle, Washington apartment rented by members of the local Occupy Wall Street chapter was raided and ransacked by the local SWAT team early Tuesday as part of an investigation into alleged anarchist actions.

In a press release published after the event by a spokesperson with Occupy Seattle, the group says that all four residents of the Judkins Park area apartment were sleeping during the 6 a.m. raid. Authorities still used a battering-ram like device to break down a door and deploy stun grenades, however, a non-lethal weapon used to disorient its victims.

“Suddenly we heard the bang of their grenade, and the crashing as police entered the apartment,” neighbor Natalio Perez tells the Kasama Project website. “The crashing and stomping continued for a long time as they tore the place apart.”

The Seattle Police Department has since explained to the public that the raid was in conjunction with an ongoing investigation into protests that occurred during the May Day actions earlier this year. The police add that by executing the search warrant, they were able to collective “evidence that will be useful” in their ongoing probe.

Last month, reporters at the Puget Sound Anarchists website wrote that the FBI was behind repeated attempts into investigating Occupy Seattle and organizers that authorities believe were involved in the May 1, 2012 protests.

“Over the past few weeks the FBI has contacted and spoken with at least two individuals who have been involved in Occupy Seattle. In both instances, the agents have threatened to take these individuals away from their loved ones. From what is known, these individuals were contacted because of the events surrounding the May 1st General Strike,” the website reported.

One resident of the Seattle apartment adds to the Kasama Project site that a warrant made available by officers on Tuesday suggested “they were looking for specific pieces of clothing supposedly connected with a May First incident.”

“This warrant says that they were specifically looking for ‘anarchist materials’ — which lays out the political police state nature of this right there,” the source adds.

Phillip Neel was one of the Occupiers residing in the apartment during the raid, and was actually presented with the search warrant used by the SWAT team. Describing it to the Fire Dog Lake website, Neel says cops were concerned with locating “black hoodies, face masks, goggles,” and other items that could have been tied to the May First protests.

Blogger Kevin Gosztola adds in his report that police are reported to have confiscated clothing and sunglasses, and that “Fliers and a pamphlet that anyone could’ve picked up at any Occupy action were seized.”

Following the raid, around 50 people gathered for a protest that took demonstrators around the Seattle Police Department’s East Prestinct, the Seattle Times reports. No arrests were made during the early morning raid or during that evening’s protest.


There isn’t a lot to do in Paragould, Arkansas, but residents of the town of barely 25,000 seem to have no problem finding trouble. Now in order to curb the rising crime rate, the city is proposing heavily armed police patrol the streets on foot.

At a town hall meeting on Thursday, Mayor Mike Gaskill and Police Chief Todd Stovall endorsed a plan to send cops dressed in full-fledged SWAT gear and equipped with AR-15s into downtown Paragould starting in 2013.

The militarized police force will be tasked with trying to control a crime rate that has made Paragould an increasingly dangerous place to live in recent years. According to statistics collected by city-data.com, Paragould has had a property crime index rating more than double the national average since 2007. Rapes, burglaries, thefts and assaults per capita are also well above the mean there, statistically suggesting Paragould is perhaps the least-safe among area cities.

«This fear is what’s given us the reason to do this. Once I have stats and people saying they’re scared, we can do this,» Stovall said, according to the Paragould Daily Press. «It allows us to do what we’re fixing to do.»

In order to bring crime down, residents of Paragould may soon have to endure police officers brandishing semi-automatic assault riddles on the regular. What’s more, Stovall says, is he intends to have the cops collecting identification from everyone and anyone in an attempt to discourage criminal activity.

“If you’re out walking, we’re going to stop you, ask why you’re out walking, check for your ID,” the Daily Press reports him saying during last week’s meeting.

«To ask you for your ID, I have to have a reason,» he said. «Well, I’ve got statistical reasons that say I’ve got a lot of crime right now, which gives me probable cause to ask what you’re doing out. Then when I add that people are scared…then that gives us even more [reason] to ask why are you here and what are you doing in this area.»

«They may not be doing anything but walking their dog,» added Mayor Gaskill, «but they’re going to have to prove it.»

Soon after the Paragould Daily Press picked up the story, news of the small town’s efforts to enforce martial law began making headlines outside of Arkansas. On Sunday, Stovall authored an explanation on the Paragould Police Department website to clarify how exactly the proposed Street Crimes Unit will interact with citizens.

“Most often, this identification process will be nothing more than making contact with a subject, handing them a business card, and asking if they live in the area and if there’s anything we can do for them,” he says. During hours in which crime seems to be more prevalent, however, Chief Stovall says their process “will become more stringent.”

“We will be asking for picture identification. We will be ascertaining where the subject lives and what they are doing in the area. We will be keeping a record of those we contact.”

Stovall adds that they program would not violate the constitutional rights of Paragould citizens, claiming, “Once we have an area that shows a high crime rate or a high call volume, it is our duty and obligation to find out why this is occurring and what we can do to prevent the trend from continuing. Therefore, identifying subjects in those problem areas help us to solve crimes, and hopefully to prevent future crimes.”

Paragould has scheduled two more town hall meetings to discuss the Street Crimes Unit.


The parents of a 12-year-old girl are asking for answers from the Billings, Montana SWAT team after a flash-bang grenade was tossed into their daughter’s bedroom, sending the preteen to a local emergency room with second-degree burns.

Armed police officers busted down the door of the Fasching family’s West End Billings home on Tuesday to execute a search warrant filed by the City-County Special Investigations Unit as part of an ongoing narcotics investigation. Before they could do as much, though, an agent with the SWAT team on the scene prematurely detonated a stun grenade that is reported to have caused not just substantial damage to the home but its occupants as well, including a 12-year-old girl only inches away from where the device was deployed.

«She has first- and second-degree burns down the left side of her body and on her arms,» mother Jackie Fasching tells The Missoulian newspaper. «She’s got severe pain. Every time I think about it, it brings tears to my eyes.»

The girl, whose name is being withheld, was in her sister’s room when the SWAT team stormed the house early Tuesday. And while she has since been treated and released twice from a local hospital, pictures from the aftermath provided to the Missoulian by her parents show that the family didn’t suffer from just a minor mishap.

«I’m going to have to take them to counseling,» Mrs. Fasching says. «They’re never going to get over that.»

The early-morning raid occurred at around 6 a.m. when the entire family was home, and while the Billings Police Department says they took all precautions to minimize injury, they’re now apologizing for the injury their misconduct has caused.

«It was totally unforeseen, totally unplanned and extremely regrettable,» Police Chief Rich St. John tells the paper. «We certainly did not want a juvenile, or anyone else for that matter, to get injured.»

According to the story the department has provided to the paper, a member of the SWAT team accidently dropped a standard “flash-bang” grenade from a metal pole placed up to a bedroom window of the house without realizing that the device operated off a slight delay. The weapons are regularly used to disorient people in the immediate vicinity with a bright flash, loud bang and concussive blast, the paper writes. When it detonated inside the Fasching home, though, it was on the floor next the child.

Jackie Fasching says all of this could have been avoided if the police would have just used their manners.

«A simple knock on the door and I would’ve let them in,» she tells the paper. «They said their intel told them there was a meth lab at our house. If they would’ve checked, they would’ve known there’s not.»

Chief St. John says that the amount and significance of intelligence made available to the department was enough to warrant a raid either way, and said that the department weighed their investigation carefully before determining that a surprise visit was the best way to search the house.

«Every bit of information and intelligence that we have comes together and we determine what kind of risk is there,» he tells the Missoulian. «The warrant was based on some hard evidence and everything we knew at the time.»

«If we’re wrong or made a mistake, then we’re going to take care of it,» he adds. «But if it determines we’re not, then we’ll go with that. When we do this, we want to ensure the safety of not only the officers, but the residents inside.»

Three days after the raid, the department has yet to file any charges against members of the Fasching household and no one in the family has been taken into custody.


An Evansville, Indiana SWAT team recently attempted to execute a search warrant that was issued to make an example out of an anonymous Internet user who made malicious remarks on the Web. Instead, they destroyed the home of an innocent grandmother.

When members of the Midwest town’s SWAT team plotted their raid on the alleged home of the person behind some unpleasant remarks published on an Internet forum, they invited a local television crew to accompany them so that they could catch the whole thing on camera. Instead of arresting the author of the ill-tempered posts, however, the Evansville SWAT ravaged the home of an elderly woman and confiscated her 18-year-old granddaughter’s laptop.

The SWAT team did not have the name of who they were going after. They barely even had an identity. What they did have to work with, though, was the IP address of a person who logged onto the Topix.com Web forums and made discouraging remarks about local law enforcement.

An archived copy of the thread in question reveals that the police department might have had a reason to be worried. “Cops be aware,” a person using the handle usarmy wrote on Topix. The thread began when another user claimed that the home addresses of Evansville Police Department officers had been leaked and was spreading online, and usarmy was hardly the first person to reply. When the person behind that username did write a response, however, they had some things to say that didn’t sit well with the EPD. In between a slew of self-censored expletives, the author implied that they were considering an attack on an unspecified member of the police department.

“4th of July a cops house gonna get hit. dont care about your kids or btchs lives. I dnt even care bout my own life. I got my reasons..times ticking,” reads one post from usarmy.

“I am proud of my county, but I hate police of any kind,” reads another. “I have explosives.:) made in America.Evansville will feel my pain.guess who’s in the river.”

Acting on the assumed planned act of aggression, officials were able to figure out the author’s IP address. As several courts have ruled recently, though, that isn’t enough to exactly single out a certain home, let alone a person. While an Internet Protocol address can be linked to a computer, any person who accesses that network’s WiFi — with or without authorization — can be linked to that IP. Only last month, in fact, New York Eastern District federal court magistrate Judge Gary Brown ruled that IP address logs can’t be used on its own to link a suspect to a crime, writing “a single IP address usually supports multiple computer devices – which unlike traditional telephones can be operated simultaneously by different individuals.” District Court Judge Howard R. Lloyd made essentially the same ruling one month earlier in a Northern District of California courtroom.

Ira Milan, whose house ended up targeted by the authorities, tells the Evansville Courier & Press that she thinks the author of the posts used her granddaughter’s Internet connection from an outside location. Police Chief Billy Bolin says it is much more cut and dry, though.

“We have no way of being able to tell that,” Bolin tells the Courier, adding that the messages “definitely come back to that address.”

Police reps tell the Courier that they obtained a search warrant for computer equipment at Milan’s house so that they could collect whatever devices may have been used to make the anonymous posts. Responding to an inquiry from the paper, though, the Vanderburgh County Clerk’s Office was initially unable to locate a copy of the document; Vanderburgh County Prosecutor Nick Hermann also refused to comply with the request. When Bolin was asked by the media to materialize the warrant, he deferred their plea and insisted that producing the paper could compromise the investigation. What Bolin did have to say, however, was that the document did not contain the names of any suspects.

“We have an idea in our mind who it is, but we don’t have evidence yet,” Bolin explains to the Courier.

Even still, the department says that the hunch was enough to throw two flash-bang stun grenades into the front window of Ira Milan’s home. The Courier Press reports that the front door was open at the time of the incident.

“To bring a whole SWAT team seems a little excessive,” says Milan.

Authorities say it should prove their point, though.

“This is a big deal to us,” Sgt. Jason Cullum, a police department spokesman, tells the Courier Press. “This may be just somebody who was online just talking stupid. What I would suggest to anybody who visits websites like that is that their comments can be taken literally.”

A day after the raid, 18-year-old Stephanie Milan’s cellphone and laptops were still being held by police.


This is just the beginning of the case, but really this lawsuit will hold the officers accountable for Mr. Serrato’s death, finally, and hopefully prevent this kind of tragedy from happening in the future,” says Haddad.

«You’ve got two young boys who’ve lost their father,» he adds. «Nothing can ever replace their father.»

Dennis Gaydos, a homeless man from Palm Springs, was making his home outside of a church in the sunny Florida community without incident until a police intervention changed his life.

Gaydos says he was keeping to himself in his temporary home on the church grounds when the Palm Springs Police department SWAT team, dressed in full military garb, shot him multiple times with rubber bullets.

The close-range blast slashed off a portion of his right ear lobe and rendered his left eye a pulpy mess.

In the four years since the event, Gaydos has filed a federal lawsuit against Palm Beach County, Sheriff Ric Bradshaw and the Village of Palm Springs Police Department. The lawsuit, which was filed in late July, is in response to the SWAT team to removing him from his encampment and severely butchering him.

Other damages include “physical suffering, permanent disfigurement including the loss of use of a bodily function, injury and mental anguish.”

“What happened to Mr. Gaydos was outrageous,” says Kevin Anderson to Jose Lambiet of GossipExtra.com. Anderson, Gaydos’ police liability lawyer, adds that “the behavior of the police officers and deputies at the scene was simply unexplainable.”

The lawsuit states, with a deployed helicopter over head, “the plaintiff was overtaken by multiple deputies and police officers. The Plaintiff was not threatening harm to the officers or other individuals upon the defendants’ arrival.”

Authorities claim Gaydos refused to come out and, on the contrary, officers allegedly took action when they spotted Gaydos wielding a cell phone in one hand and a “knife” in the other.

Gaydos admits to having a cell phone in his hands at the night of the incident, but said he had just finished calling a food assistance agency.

It is believed that the food agency’s operator reported to law enforcement that Gaydos was living in underbrush by the church’s parking lot.

Gaydos claims the incident which left him blind and deaf should have never occurred since he had permission from the pastor to reside there.

Gaydos’ attorney added the artificial light in the area was more than sufficient to prevent an “accidental” shooting.

Palm Beach County records indicate the night of the incident, Gaydos didn’t have any criminal charges filed against him and was never arrested.

According to official records no knife was recovered from the scene either.



Five years after a California SWAT team raided the home of a man already imprisoned and pointed weapons at his loved ones, a Ninth Circuit panel will allow the family of Javier Bravo Jr. to sue the detective working the case.

The SWAT team in Santa Maria, California burst opened the door of Hope and Javier Bravo’s home in 2006 looking for their son over alleged connections with a drive-by shooting. Authorities were looking for the younger Bravo and believed he had hidden weapons involved in a 2006 drive-by shooting, but were unable to locate him after they stormed the house shortly after 5 a.m.

As luck would have it, Bravo was already behind bars. His incarceration was clearly listed on the search warrant obtained by Detective Louis Tanore, though authorities neglected to notice it before drawing weapons on the criminal’s family.

After pointing assault weapons at the 8-year-old grandson of the Bravos, the child ran off to the bathroom screaming. Hope Bravo then produced a letter penned by her son that was mailed from prison as to proof of his incarceration. As noted on the rap sheet attached to the warrant, Javier Jr. had been behind bars for six months already at the time of the raid.

At the time of the incident, a District Court judge ruled in favor of the authorities and argued that the fact that Javier Jr. was imprisoned at the time was irrelevant to the raid. Last Friday, however, a federal appeals court reversed the decision, allowing the family to go after the detective and others involved.

According to Judge Michael Daly Hawkins, the police “had no evidence that Mr. and Mrs. Bravo or E.B. were involved in the April 21 shooting or that during a period in which Javier Junior was not residing in their home they would have assisted Tangas gang members in concealing evidence, and specifically in concealing evidence from the shooting.” Further, the judge went after the detective and charged that his “generalized statements in the affidavit that it is 'common' for families of gang members to assist other members of the gang are insufficient to support probable cause to search the Bravos' home.”



A Seattle, Washington apartment rented by members of the local Occupy Wall Street chapter was raided and ransacked by the local SWAT team early Tuesday as part of an investigation into alleged anarchist actions.



In a press release published after the event by a spokesperson with Occupy Seattle, the group says that all four residents of the Judkins Park area apartment were sleeping during the 6 a.m. raid. Authorities still used a battering-ram like device to break down a door and deploy stun grenades, however, a non-lethal weapon used to disorient its victims.

“Suddenly we heard the bang of their grenade, and the crashing as police entered the apartment,” neighbor Natalio Perez tells the Kasama Project website. “The crashing and stomping continued for a long time as they tore the place apart.”

The Seattle Police Department has since explained to the public that the raid was in conjunction with an ongoing investigation into protests that occurred during the May Day actions earlier this year. The police add that by executing the search warrant, they were able to collective “evidence that will be useful” in their ongoing probe.

Last month, reporters at the Puget Sound Anarchists website wrote that the FBI was behind repeated attempts into investigating Occupy Seattle and organizers that authorities believe were involved in the May 1, 2012 protests.

“Over the past few weeks the FBI has contacted and spoken with at least two individuals who have been involved in Occupy Seattle. In both instances, the agents have threatened to take these individuals away from their loved ones. From what is known, these individuals were contacted because of the events surrounding the May 1st General Strike,” the website reported.

One resident of the Seattle apartment adds to the Kasama Project site that a warrant made available by officers on Tuesday suggested “they were looking for specific pieces of clothing supposedly connected with a May First incident.”

“This warrant says that they were specifically looking for ‘anarchist materials’ — which lays out the political police state nature of this right there,” the source adds.

Phillip Neel was one of the Occupiers residing in the apartment during the raid, and was actually presented with the search warrant used by the SWAT team. Describing it to the Fire Dog Lake website, Neel says cops were concerned with locating “black hoodies, face masks, goggles,” and other items that could have been tied to the May First protests.

Blogger Kevin Gosztola adds in his report that police are reported to have confiscated clothing and sunglasses, and that “Fliers and a pamphlet that anyone could’ve picked up at any Occupy action were seized.”

Following the raid, around 50 people gathered for a protest that took demonstrators around the Seattle Police Department’s East Prestinct, the Seattle Times reports. No arrests were made during the early morning raid or during that evening’s protest.



There isn’t a lot to do in Paragould, Arkansas, but residents of the town of barely 25,000 seem to have no problem finding trouble. Now in order to curb the rising crime rate, the city is proposing heavily armed police patrol the streets on foot.

At a town hall meeting on Thursday, Mayor Mike Gaskill and Police Chief Todd Stovall endorsed a plan to send cops dressed in full-fledged SWAT gear and equipped with AR-15s into downtown Paragould starting in 2013.

The militarized police force will be tasked with trying to control a crime rate that has made Paragould an increasingly dangerous place to live in recent years. According to statistics collected by city-data.com, Paragould has had a property crime index rating more than double the national average since 2007. Rapes, burglaries, thefts and assaults per capita are also well above the mean there, statistically suggesting Paragould is perhaps the least-safe among area cities.

"This fear is what's given us the reason to do this. Once I have stats and people saying they're scared, we can do this," Stovall said, according to the Paragould Daily Press. "It allows us to do what we're fixing to do."

In order to bring crime down, residents of Paragould may soon have to endure police officers brandishing semi-automatic assault riddles on the regular. What’s more, Stovall says, is he intends to have the cops collecting identification from everyone and anyone in an attempt to discourage criminal activity.

“If you're out walking, we're going to stop you, ask why you're out walking, check for your ID,” the Daily Press reports him saying during last week’s meeting.

"To ask you for your ID, I have to have a reason," he said. "Well, I've got statistical reasons that say I've got a lot of crime right now, which gives me probable cause to ask what you're doing out. Then when I add that people are scared…then that gives us even more [reason] to ask why are you here and what are you doing in this area."

"They may not be doing anything but walking their dog," added Mayor Gaskill, "but they're going to have to prove it."

Soon after the Paragould Daily Press picked up the story, news of the small town’s efforts to enforce martial law began making headlines outside of Arkansas. On Sunday, Stovall authored an explanation on the Paragould Police Department website to clarify how exactly the proposed Street Crimes Unit will interact with citizens.

“Most often, this identification process will be nothing more than making contact with a subject, handing them a business card, and asking if they live in the area and if there's anything we can do for them,” he says. During hours in which crime seems to be more prevalent, however, Chief Stovall says their process “will become more stringent.”

“We will be asking for picture identification. We will be ascertaining where the subject lives and what they are doing in the area. We will be keeping a record of those we contact.”

Stovall adds that they program would not violate the constitutional rights of Paragould citizens, claiming, “Once we have an area that shows a high crime rate or a high call volume, it is our duty and obligation to find out why this is occurring and what we can do to prevent the trend from continuing. Therefore, identifying subjects in those problem areas help us to solve crimes, and hopefully to prevent future crimes.”

Paragould has scheduled two more town hall meetings to discuss the Street Crimes Unit.



The parents of a 12-year-old girl are asking for answers from the Billings, Montana SWAT team after a flash-bang grenade was tossed into their daughter’s bedroom, sending the preteen to a local emergency room with second-degree burns.

Armed police officers busted down the door of the Fasching family’s West End Billings home on Tuesday to execute a search warrant filed by the City-County Special Investigations Unit as part of an ongoing narcotics investigation. Before they could do as much, though, an agent with the SWAT team on the scene prematurely detonated a stun grenade that is reported to have caused not just substantial damage to the home but its occupants as well, including a 12-year-old girl only inches away from where the device was deployed.

"She has first- and second-degree burns down the left side of her body and on her arms," mother Jackie Fasching tells The Missoulian newspaper. "She's got severe pain. Every time I think about it, it brings tears to my eyes."

The girl, whose name is being withheld, was in her sister’s room when the SWAT team stormed the house early Tuesday. And while she has since been treated and released twice from a local hospital, pictures from the aftermath provided to the Missoulian by her parents show that the family didn’t suffer from just a minor mishap.

"I'm going to have to take them to counseling," Mrs. Fasching says. "They're never going to get over that."

The early-morning raid occurred at around 6 a.m. when the entire family was home, and while the Billings Police Department says they took all precautions to minimize injury, they’re now apologizing for the injury their misconduct has caused.

"It was totally unforeseen, totally unplanned and extremely regrettable," Police Chief Rich St. John tells the paper. "We certainly did not want a juvenile, or anyone else for that matter, to get injured."

According to the story the department has provided to the paper, a member of the SWAT team accidently dropped a standard “flash-bang” grenade from a metal pole placed up to a bedroom window of the house without realizing that the device operated off a slight delay. The weapons are regularly used to disorient people in the immediate vicinity with a bright flash, loud bang and concussive blast, the paper writes. When it detonated inside the Fasching home, though, it was on the floor next the child.

Jackie Fasching says all of this could have been avoided if the police would have just used their manners.

"A simple knock on the door and I would've let them in," she tells the paper. "They said their intel told them there was a meth lab at our house. If they would've checked, they would've known there's not."

Chief St. John says that the amount and significance of intelligence made available to the department was enough to warrant a raid either way, and said that the department weighed their investigation carefully before determining that a surprise visit was the best way to search the house.

"Every bit of information and intelligence that we have comes together and we determine what kind of risk is there," he tells the Missoulian. "The warrant was based on some hard evidence and everything we knew at the time."

"If we're wrong or made a mistake, then we're going to take care of it," he adds. "But if it determines we're not, then we'll go with that. When we do this, we want to ensure the safety of not only the officers, but the residents inside."

Three days after the raid, the department has yet to file any charges against members of the Fasching household and no one in the family has been taken into custody.



An Evansville, Indiana SWAT team recently attempted to execute a search warrant that was issued to make an example out of an anonymous Internet user who made malicious remarks on the Web. Instead, they destroyed the home of an innocent grandmother.

When members of the Midwest town’s SWAT team plotted their raid on the alleged home of the person behind some unpleasant remarks published on an Internet forum, they invited a local television crew to accompany them so that they could catch the whole thing on camera. Instead of arresting the author of the ill-tempered posts, however, the Evansville SWAT ravaged the home of an elderly woman and confiscated her 18-year-old granddaughter’s laptop.

The SWAT team did not have the name of who they were going after. They barely even had an identity. What they did have to work with, though, was the IP address of a person who logged onto the Topix.com Web forums and made discouraging remarks about local law enforcement.

An archived copy of the thread in question reveals that the police department might have had a reason to be worried. “Cops be aware,” a person using the handle usarmy wrote on Topix. The thread began when another user claimed that the home addresses of Evansville Police Department officers had been leaked and was spreading online, and usarmy was hardly the first person to reply. When the person behind that username did write a response, however, they had some things to say that didn’t sit well with the EPD. In between a slew of self-censored expletives, the author implied that they were considering an attack on an unspecified member of the police department.

“4th of July a cops house gonna get hit. dont care about your kids or btchs lives. I dnt even care bout my own life. I got my reasons..times ticking,” reads one post from usarmy.

“I am proud of my county, but I hate police of any kind,” reads another. “I have explosives.:) made in America.Evansville will feel my pain.guess who's in the river.”

Acting on the assumed planned act of aggression, officials were able to figure out the author’s IP address. As several courts have ruled recently, though, that isn’t enough to exactly single out a certain home, let alone a person. While an Internet Protocol address can be linked to a computer, any person who accesses that network’s WiFi — with or without authorization — can be linked to that IP. Only last month, in fact, New York Eastern District federal court magistrate Judge Gary Brown ruled that IP address logs can’t be used on its own to link a suspect to a crime, writing “a single IP address usually supports multiple computer devices – which unlike traditional telephones can be operated simultaneously by different individuals.” District Court Judge Howard R. Lloyd made essentially the same ruling one month earlier in a Northern District of California courtroom.

Ira Milan, whose house ended up targeted by the authorities, tells the Evansville Courier & Press that she thinks the author of the posts used her granddaughter’s Internet connection from an outside location. Police Chief Billy Bolin says it is much more cut and dry, though.

“We have no way of being able to tell that,” Bolin tells the Courier, adding that the messages “definitely come back to that address.”

Police reps tell the Courier that they obtained a search warrant for computer equipment at Milan’s house so that they could collect whatever devices may have been used to make the anonymous posts. Responding to an inquiry from the paper, though, the Vanderburgh County Clerk’s Office was initially unable to locate a copy of the document; Vanderburgh County Prosecutor Nick Hermann also refused to comply with the request. When Bolin was asked by the media to materialize the warrant, he deferred their plea and insisted that producing the paper could compromise the investigation. What Bolin did have to say, however, was that the document did not contain the names of any suspects.

“We have an idea in our mind who it is, but we don’t have evidence yet,” Bolin explains to the Courier.

Even still, the department says that the hunch was enough to throw two flash-bang stun grenades into the front window of Ira Milan’s home. The Courier Press reports that the front door was open at the time of the incident.

“To bring a whole SWAT team seems a little excessive,” says Milan.

Authorities say it should prove their point, though.

“This is a big deal to us,” Sgt. Jason Cullum, a police department spokesman, tells the Courier Press. “This may be just somebody who was online just talking stupid. What I would suggest to anybody who visits websites like that is that their comments can be taken literally.”

A day after the raid, 18-year-old Stephanie Milan’s cellphone and laptops were still being held by police.



This is just the beginning of the case, but really this lawsuit will hold the officers accountable for Mr. Serrato's death, finally, and hopefully prevent this kind of tragedy from happening in the future,” says Haddad.

"You've got two young boys who've lost their father," he adds. "Nothing can ever replace their father."

The law of the free

In 2010, the Supreme Court handed down one of the worst decisions in its history, Citizens United v FEC. With a narrow 5-4 vote, the Court swept away almost 100 years of precedent in campaign finance law and opened the floodgates for big corporations and wealthy individuals to pour unlimited amounts of money into our elections.

On October 8, the Supreme Court will hear a case that many are calling the “next Citizens United” — a case that could completely dismantle what minimal campaign finance regulation we have left and pave the way for unlimited direct contributions to candidates by those wealthy individuals.

I urge every American to speak out for the need to restore our democracy for the people. That’s why I have introduced the Democracy is for People Amendment (S.J. Res. 11) to amend the U.S. Constitution, and make it clear that the right to vote and the ability to make campaign contributions and expenditures belong only to real people, not big money and corporate special interests.

Grassroots support from organizations like People For the American Way and its members is absolutely vital to my work to move legislation forward to undo the harm of Citizens United and related cases. Thank you, and let’s keep up the fight.

Sincerely,

Bernard Sanders
United States Senator (I-VT)


Published on Aug 5, 2013
The basis for power elite membership is institutional power, namely an influential position within a prominent private or public organization. One study of power elites in the USA under George W. Bush identified 7,314 institutional positions of power encompassing 5,778 individuals.[15] A later study of US society found that the demographics of this elite group broke down as follows:

Age Corporate leaders average about 60 years of age. The heads of foundations, law, education, and civic organizations average around 62 years of age. Government-sector members about 56.
Gender Women are barely represented among corporate leadership in the institutional elite and women only contribute roughly 20 percent in the political realm. They do appear more among top positions when it comes to cultural affairs, education, and foundations.
Ethnicity White Anglo-Saxons dominate in the power elite, with Protestants representing about 80 percent of the top business leaders and about 73 percent of members of Congress.
Education Nearly all the leaders are college-educated with almost half having advanced degrees. About 54 percent of the big-business leaders and 42 percent of the government elite are graduates of just 12 heavily endowed, prestigious universities.
Social Clubs Most holders of top position in the power elite possess exclusive membership in one or more social clubs. About a third belong to a small number of especially prestigious clubs in major cities like New York, Chicago, Boston, and D.C.[16]

In the 1970s an organized set of policies promoted reduced taxes, especially for the wealthy, and a steady corrosion of the welfare safety net.[17] Starting with legislation in the 1980s, the wealthy banking community successfully lobbied for reduced regulation.[18] The wide range of financial and social capital accessible to the power elite gives their members heavy influence in economic and political decision making, allowing them to move toward attaining desired outcomes. Sociologist Christopher Doob gives a hypothetical alternative stating that these elite individuals would consider themselves the overseers of the national economy, appreciating that it is not only a moral but a practical necessity to focus beyond their group interests. Doing so would hopefully alleviate various destructive conditions affecting large numbers of less affluent citizens.

Mills determined that there is an «inner core» of the power elite involving individuals that are able to move from one seat of institutional power to another. They therefore have a wide range of knowledge and interests in many influential organizations, and are, as Mills describes, «professional go-betweens of economic, political, and military affairs.»[19] Relentless expansion of capitalism and the globalizing of economic and military power binds leaders of the power elite into complex relationships with nation states that generate global-scale class divisions. Sociologist, Manuel Castells, writes in The Rise of the Network Society that contemporary globalization does not mean that «everything in the global economy is global.»[20] So, a global economy becomes characterized by fundamental social inequalities with respect to «the level of integration, competitive potential and share of the benefits from economic growth.»[21] Castells cites a kind of «double movement» where on one hand, «valuable segments of territories and people» become «linked in the global networks of value making and wealth appropriation,» while, on the other, «everything and everyone» that is not valued by established networks gets «switched off… and ultimately discarded.»[21] The wide-ranging effects of global capitalism ultimately affect everyone on the planet as economies around the world come to depend on the functioning of global financial markets, technologies, trade and labor.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elite

In 2010, the Supreme Court handed down one of the worst decisions in its history, Citizens United v FEC. With a narrow 5-4 vote, the Court swept away almost 100 years of precedent in campaign finance law and opened the floodgates for big corporations and wealthy individuals to pour unlimited amounts of money into our elections.

On October 8, the Supreme Court will hear a case that many are calling the “next Citizens United” -- a case that could completely dismantle what minimal campaign finance regulation we have left and pave the way for unlimited direct contributions to candidates by those wealthy individuals.

I urge every American to speak out for the need to restore our democracy for the people. That’s why I have introduced the Democracy is for People Amendment (S.J. Res. 11) to amend the U.S. Constitution, and make it clear that the right to vote and the ability to make campaign contributions and expenditures belong only to real people, not big money and corporate special interests.

Grassroots support from organizations like People For the American Way and its members is absolutely vital to my work to move legislation forward to undo the harm of Citizens United and related cases. Thank you, and let’s keep up the fight.

Sincerely,

Bernard Sanders
United States Senator (I-VT)







Published on Aug 5, 2013
The basis for power elite membership is institutional power, namely an influential position within a prominent private or public organization. One study of power elites in the USA under George W. Bush identified 7,314 institutional positions of power encompassing 5,778 individuals.[15] A later study of US society found that the demographics of this elite group broke down as follows:

Age Corporate leaders average about 60 years of age. The heads of foundations, law, education, and civic organizations average around 62 years of age. Government-sector members about 56.
Gender Women are barely represented among corporate leadership in the institutional elite and women only contribute roughly 20 percent in the political realm. They do appear more among top positions when it comes to cultural affairs, education, and foundations.
Ethnicity White Anglo-Saxons dominate in the power elite, with Protestants representing about 80 percent of the top business leaders and about 73 percent of members of Congress.
Education Nearly all the leaders are college-educated with almost half having advanced degrees. About 54 percent of the big-business leaders and 42 percent of the government elite are graduates of just 12 heavily endowed, prestigious universities.
Social Clubs Most holders of top position in the power elite possess exclusive membership in one or more social clubs. About a third belong to a small number of especially prestigious clubs in major cities like New York, Chicago, Boston, and D.C.[16]

In the 1970s an organized set of policies promoted reduced taxes, especially for the wealthy, and a steady corrosion of the welfare safety net.[17] Starting with legislation in the 1980s, the wealthy banking community successfully lobbied for reduced regulation.[18] The wide range of financial and social capital accessible to the power elite gives their members heavy influence in economic and political decision making, allowing them to move toward attaining desired outcomes. Sociologist Christopher Doob gives a hypothetical alternative stating that these elite individuals would consider themselves the overseers of the national economy, appreciating that it is not only a moral but a practical necessity to focus beyond their group interests. Doing so would hopefully alleviate various destructive conditions affecting large numbers of less affluent citizens.

Mills determined that there is an "inner core" of the power elite involving individuals that are able to move from one seat of institutional power to another. They therefore have a wide range of knowledge and interests in many influential organizations, and are, as Mills describes, "professional go-betweens of economic, political, and military affairs."[19] Relentless expansion of capitalism and the globalizing of economic and military power binds leaders of the power elite into complex relationships with nation states that generate global-scale class divisions. Sociologist, Manuel Castells, writes in The Rise of the Network Society that contemporary globalization does not mean that "everything in the global economy is global."[20] So, a global economy becomes characterized by fundamental social inequalities with respect to "the level of integration, competitive potential and share of the benefits from economic growth."[21] Castells cites a kind of "double movement" where on one hand, "valuable segments of territories and people" become "linked in the global networks of value making and wealth appropriation," while, on the other, "everything and everyone" that is not valued by established networks gets "switched off... and ultimately discarded."[21] The wide-ranging effects of global capitalism ultimately affect everyone on the planet as economies around the world come to depend on the functioning of global financial markets, technologies, trade and labor.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elite