pro-gun laws; where can’t we carry them?

By CAMERON MCWHIRTER and KARISHMA MEHROTRA
June 29, 2014 9:11 p.m. ET

ATLANTA—Bars, houses of worship, and other public establishments are wrestling with what to do about a new law in Georgia that starting on Tuesday dramatically will expand gun-permit holders’ right to carry weapons where people congregate.

The law allows licensed gun owners to bring weapons to bars and houses of worship, unless forbidden by proprietors. Legally-owned guns also are allowed in unrestricted areas of airports and government buildings, and may be carried at schools and in colleges if permitted by officials.

Several other states allow guns in bars or churches, but Georgia’s «Safe Carry Protection Act,» which passed the state legislature overwhelmingly earlier this year, is unusual in that it expanded gun rights in multiple places with one omnibus law.


This is horrifying: According to multiple news outlets, a Target employee found a loaded handgun in the toy aisle of a store in South Carolina.

When you’re shopping at Target, you shouldn’t have to worry about someone parading around with a semiautomatic rifle, or whether your kid is going to find a loaded handgun while looking at toys.

More than 115,000 people have already signed the petition to Target asking for gun sense policies to protect customers and employees from gun violence — and over the next two days volunteers are going to be delivering these petitions all across the country.

Gun extremists armed with semiautomatic rifles have walked into Target locations around the country, weapons out and loaded, making sure customers saw their guns.
It’s often legal to do this, because many states have weak laws that allow people to openly carry around loaded weapons without any permits, training, or background checks. That means it’s up to companies themselves to protect their customers when the law won’t. Yet according to the Wall Street Journal, Target doesn’t have any policies to stop people from carrying weapons in its stores:

Target, which boasts on its website that between 80% and 90% of its customers are women, has no restrictions on customers carrying guns in its stores.

Chipotle, Starbucks, Chili’s, Sonic Drive-In, and Jack in the Box have already responded to petitions from moms and other gun sense supporters asking the stores not to allow guns. Now it’s up to Target to protect families who shop in its stores..

Sign the petition


Concealed weapon law tossed by fed appeals court

Published February 13, 2014Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO – A divided federal appeals court on Thursday struck down California’s concealed weapons rules, saying they violate the Second Amendment right to bear arms.

By a 2-1 vote, the three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said California was wrong to require applicants to show good cause to receive a permit to carry a concealed weapon.

«The right to bear arms includes the right to carry an operable firearm outside the home for the lawful purpose of self-defense,» Judge Diarmuid O’Scannlain wrote for the majority.


September 24, 2013

It has been 577 days since George Zimmerman shot and killed our son Travyon. And it’s been 74 days since a jury set George Zimmerman free, in part because of broken «Stand Your Ground» laws that protect killers like Zimmerman — killers who first instigate conflicts and then claim self-defense.
In July, we started a petition on Change.org calling for «Stand Your Ground» laws to be reviewed and amended nationwide, but we need to turn up the pressure in order to change the same law in Texas.
Can you start your own petition calling on Governor Perry and the Texas legislature to review and amend Texas’ «Stand Your Ground» law so that people like George Zimmerman can’t kill with impunity?
Reviewing and amending separate laws in 22 different states isn’t going to be easy — we can’t do it on our own. That’s why we’re asking for your help in Texas, because we know that Governor Perry and your state legislature will be most heavily influenced by the voices of constituents like you.
We already know that there’s a major groundswell of people who want to see these laws amended, because more than 400,000 people have signed our petition. Now it’s time to take that energy and harness it, state by state, to make sure no one can stalk, chase, and kill an unarmed child and get away with it.
Not in Texas. Not in Florida. Not anywhere in America.
Our grief is overwhelming, but we are fortified by our fight to honor Trayvon’s memory by fixing these broken laws. Starting a petition only takes a few minutes. Yours could be the voice that makes sure no child in Texas ever has to experience what happened to our son.
Click here to start your own petition calling on Governor Perry and the Texas legislature to review and amend Texas’ «Stand Your Ground» laws.
Thank you for standing with us, and with Trayvon.
Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton


Friend —

My son, Daniel, was a smart, quiet kid.

He’d just become a straight-A student, and he was overcoming his shyness as a new member of the debate team.

On April 20th, 1999, my beautiful and bright 15-year-old son was killed by two teenagers with guns in the library of Columbine High School — one of 12 innocent kids who lost their lives for no reason at all.

It’s been 14 years since that horrible day — 14 years of fighting so no family has to grieve like ours did.

These tragedies keep happening, and so far, Congress has failed to take common-sense action to stop them — even though nine in 10 Americans have agreed that it’s time to act by expanding background checks to close the loopholes that put guns in the hands of dangerous people.

This Wednesday, OFA and allied organizations are standing up for a national Day of Action to ask members of Congress: What will it take to finally act to prevent gun violence?

I hope you’ll join in — say you’ll do one thing this week to show Congress you want action to prevent gun violence.

The last questions you ever want to hear as a parent are: «What was your child wearing, and do you have any dental records?»

That’s what the police asked me the evening of the shooting at Columbine High, as they tried to establish who had been killed.

It was the most hopeless I’d ever felt.

Since Daniel’s death, I’ve found a way to honor him: by trying to prevent other families from feeling this pain. I’ve advocated locally and nationally for smarter gun laws — even helping achieve a statewide ballot victory here in Colorado.

In December, when I heard about the shooting in Newtown, I sat in my office and broke down. I was watching another community torn apart by guns — more parents grieving, more kids who would never see graduation, or a wedding, or a family of their own.

And in the wake of another tragedy, nine in 10 Americans agreed that it was time to act — expand background checks to close the loopholes that put guns in the hands of dangerous people.

But Congress disappointed us, putting politics above the safety of our kids.

That’s why this week, we’re asking: How many parents will have to go through what I did before we say «enough»?

You should be a part of this, too. Tell Congress you’re going to keep asking until they act:

http://my.barackobama.com/Do-One-Thing-for-Gun-Violence-Prevention

Thank you,

Tom

Tom Mauser
Littleton, Colorado


January 17, 2013

On Tuesday, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the sweeping gun measure, the nation’s toughest. It includes a ban on the possession of high-capacity magazines.

The
 statute currently written does NOT exempt law enforcement officers. The NYPD, the State Police and virtually every law enforcement agency in the state carry 9-millimeter guns, which have a 15-round capacity.

Unless an exemption is added by the time the law takes effect in March, police would technically be in violation of the new gun measure. A spokesman for the Governor’s office called us to say, «We are still working out some details of the law and the exemption will be included.»


Published: 31 December, 2012, 18:57

There’s no country in the world where you can’t smoke a cigar in a bar, but you may sip bourbon with your Colt Python – only in America!

While the Pentagon assiduously burns billions of dollars to export the cult of violence abroad, in the meantime, back at the domestic front, the Connecticut carnage has resurrected the moribund discussion about the perennial issue: the national suicidal pastime which annually devours 30,000 people, including 2,800 kids.

Even US casualties in Afghanistan – 309 KIA in 2012 – is no match to 414 murders in New York City the same year, celebrated as the record-lowest level in over four decades, down from the apex of 2,000 annual homicides, which accidentally coincides with the overall Operation Enduring Freedom body-count since the beginning of the invasion.

I ain’t no gun-shy latte-lapping liberal or trigger-happy loony. As a veteran and responsible gun owner with a concealed carry permit, I have to admit that the sheer enormity of violence in the US doesn’t jibe well with black & white, left & right polarized partisanship.

In essence, the debate is divided & dominated by one question – what is the main culprit of the homeland heinous crimes, a deadly gun or an evil mind?

In Utopia, nobody would pack heat and everybody would live in harmony, in Dystopia, everybody would be armed to the teeth and dangerously paranoiac.

Given a choice between disarmament & arms race, the USA today is on a fast track to destination D – distraction or despair, you name it.
Spiking the guns

There’s no doubt that all too often, firearms figure prominently as killing multipliers in endemic shooting sprees. Nevertheless, to single them out as the one & only reason that gnaws at the heart of America would be:

– Morally & intellectually dishonest, absolving society at large, the local community and individuals in particular from any duty & responsibility and shifting the blame from the perpetrators & collaborators to the material evidence to the crime.

– Disingenuous – if guns were intrinsically sinful, the US president, Congress and the Supreme Court wouldn’t kowtow to NRA. Stand united, and they’d show the true colors and call for abolition of the 2nd Amendment and comprehensive weapons ban.

– Cynical – drugs, fast food & soft drink legally and profitably hurt more kids than illegal access to alcohol, tobacco & firearms. Who would dare to infringe on ‘freedom of choice’ and prohibit all sweet & slow killers?

The point is it takes a wicked mind to convert a gun into a murderous accomplice, not the other way around.
Multiple delivery vehicles

The gun manufacturing industry is just a little bro of the omnipotent military industrial complex, but it wields tremendous clout over its customer base in the most politicized business in the US.

Some of its ethically-free members shamelessly exploit & condone the cult of violence, propagated by entertainment industry, as freebie product placement in toys, movies, TV and video training games, including the nefarious “Kindergarten Killer.”
Target audience

So what drives the restless minds to ubiquitous guns, making Americans pony up $12 billion for arms & ammo a year, come hell or high water? Here’s a cursory profiling, but some characters could be tempted by multiple motives:

Frontier spirit: The true believers in the sacrosanct right for any individual to bear arms under the aegis of the 2nd Amendment. They flatly refuse to consider a “states’ rights” view that the purpose of the clause is only to protect the states in their authority to maintain formal, organized militia units which are currently substituted and overrepresented by the Pentagon and the National Guard.

Whether they need a gun or not, it doesn’t matter: for ‘the freedom fighters’, the ‘right’ to cling to firearms is article of faith in preordained exceptionalism, the ultimate totem of Americana, which, even if imported, is more symbolic than Stetson hats and Lucchese boots made in the USA.

‘The freedom fighters’ are the posse comitatus and the stormtroopers of the NRA who are ready to fight tooth & nail against Indians, Brits, aliens, commies, feds and legislators to protect their rights to bear arms any time anywhere, no matter what and the hell with individual responsibility and public safety.

Collecting spirit: This is a rarified breed of aloof connoisseurs which are mostly intelligence & military types, active duty and otherwise. They keep a low profile and enjoy the pleasure of quietly building up their exquisite caches to the envy of their pals at local SWAT teams. They keep their powder dry, but they’re the champs at burning their greenbacks on amassing the formidable arsenals of trophies.

Shooting spirit: They love it, they know it and they do it skillfully, safely & responsibly. As hunters and sports enthusiasts, ‘the weekend warriors’ wastemore ammo than all other categories combined, being the most active fun-loving crowd among gun owners. They don’t bullshit about guns & rights. For them, it’s all about shooting the bull’s eye.

Shopping spirit: Impulsive & skittish customers – prodded by the fear factor, peer pressure and propaganda of violence, these armchair commandos and wannabe Rambos ogle a gun as an adult pacifier with ‘cool’ bragging rights, a tangible insurance against intangible threats, however remote & imaginary.

This nervous Nellie types are suckers for bigger, ‘badder’ guns, which they honestly believe could compensate their total lack of situational awareness and friend or foe selective accuracy under the adrenalin rush of the enemy fire.

They are the driving force of consumerism and the firepower fetishism, oblivious to mundane murder depredations, only to be jolted into panic hoarding after media coverage of another shooting rampage or gun limitations rumor mill.
Possessed & obsessed

The extreme sides of the antisocial personality disorder are lopsidedly represented by the traditional ‘sane’ majority and deinstitutionalized & marginalized ‘insane’ minority:

Long-time active serial killers: career criminals who don’t have suicidal ideations or qualms of conscience. As outlaws and the main customers of the firearms black market, they illegally & easily get anything they want and couldn’t care less about regulations & restrictions for legit gun owners.

The committed killers, isolated & organized, are responsible for the overwhelming majority of homicides – with and without firearms – but haven’t gotten the public attention they deserve. The true heroes of the violence cult who made America exceptional by the notorious homicide rate (which exceeds Japan’s by 1,000 times), they represent & reproduce its core value, the freedom to kill & be killed.

One-time dormant multiple murderers: the miserable misfits aka psychos, while not necessarily ‘born to kill’, have their worst basic instinct awakened & conditioned by omnipresent propaganda of violence & vengeance.

They are the ultimate customers of the cult, who are capable to decode its subliminal message – death shall make thou free – into clarion call to action as the ‘ultimate solution’ to settle the scores with the hostile society.

The liberals have ‘liberated’ maniacs from involuntary commitment, exposing them to the ‘values’ of violence, while the NRA has lobbied to protect their rights to legally obtain & keep firearms, thus channeling their macabre fantasies into the outer world.

These ‘accidental’ murderers, neglected or abused by their families & communities, perpetrate less than 1 per cent of overall homicides, but attract 99 per cent of media attention, prompting publicity vultures of their kind to step out from the dark and copycat their horrific crimes.
Mind Control

To paraphrase the old adage, guns don’t regulate themselves, people do. No doubt, it’s a commendable idea to tighten up gun legislature: eliminate restrictions on tracing info sharing (Tiahrt amendments), close the gaping loopholes in state laws, ban assault rifles & high capacity clips and establish comprehensive national FBI & ATF data clearing house to encompass prospective buyers, owners & guns.

Alas, in the Disunited States of America, it is a daydream that will scarcely ever come true: a state of anarchy in firearms regulation has been created & guarded by a cabal of special interests, led by the NRA, which controls pusillanimous politicians, represents armed extremists & psychos and discredits responsible gun manufacturers & owners.

If Biden & Bloomberg have the mojo to win the undeclared war by Americans against Americans for Americans, they should set the priorities straight: liberate the USA from the bloody NRA!

Are you ready for the American Spring?

Godspeed and Happy New Year!


«The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,»

Wayne LaPierre, chief executive of the NRA

In Washington on Friday, influential National Rifle Association (NRA) broke a week-long silence with a robust defence of its pro-gun position.

Wayne LaPierre, chief executive of the NRA, criticised politicians who had «exploited» the tragedy in Newtown for «political gain» and took aim at laws designating schools as gun-free zones.

«They tell every insane killer in America that schools are the safest place to inflict maximum mayhem with minimum risk,» he said.

Mr LaPierre called for a national database of the mentally ill and blamed violent video games and films for portraying murder as a «way of life».

He spoke out against the media for demonizing lawful gun owners, and for suggesting a ban on certain types of weapon would be effective.

Congress should authorise funding for armed security in every school in the country, he said, adding that an «extraordinary corps» of trained professionals could be drawn from active and retired police officers, security professionals and firefighters around the country.

Mr LaPierre was interrupted twice by anti-gun protesters carrying banners and declaring that the NRA had «blood on its hands».

The guns used in the shooting had been legally bought by the gunman’s mother, Nancy Lanza.

The shooting has seen some pro-gun congressmen say the mass shooting has prompted them to change their views on whether guns should be regulated more strictly in the US.

Meanwhile California Senator Dianne Feinstein, who has been an advocate for tighter gun laws, said she would introduce new legislation when Congress meets for the first time in the new year.

But there is no bipartisan consensus on the issue, with others backing the NRA line that teachers in schools should be armed in order to better defend students if a shooting occurs.

In recent years, the N.R.A. has aggressively lobbied federal and state governments to dilute or eliminate numerous regulations on gun ownership. And the clearest beneficiary has been the gun industry — sales of firearms and ammunition have grown 5.7 percent a year since 2007, to nearly $12 billion this year, according to IBISWorld, a market research firm. Despite the recession, arms sales have been growing so fast that domestic manufacturers haven’t been able to keep up. Imports of arms have grown 3.6 percent a year in the last five years.
The industry has, in turn, been a big supporter of the N.R.A. It has contributed between $14.7 million and $38.9 million to an N.R.A.-corporate-giving campaign since 2005, according to a report published last year by the Violence Policy Center, a nonprofit group that advocates greater gun control. The estimate is based on a study of the N.R.A.’s “Ring of Freedom” program and very likely understates the industry’s total financial support for the association, which does not publicly disclose a comprehensive list of its donors and how much they have given.
Officials from the N.R.A. have repeatedly said their main goal is to protect the Second Amendment rights of rank-and-file members who like to hunt or want guns for protection. But that claim is at odds with surveys that show a majority of N.R.A. members and a majority of American gun owners often support restrictions on gun sales and ownership that the N.R.A. has bitterly fought.
For instance, a 2009 poll commissioned by Mayors Against Illegal Guns found that 69 percent of N.R.A. members would support requiring all sellers at gun shows to conduct background checks of prospective buyers, which they do not have to do now and which the N.R.A. has steadfastly argued against. If lawful gun owners are willing to subject themselves to background checks, why is the association resisting? Its position appears only to serve the interest of gun makers and dealers who want to increase sales even if it means having dangerous weapons fall into the hands of criminals and violent individuals.
Businesses and special-interest groups often cloak their profit motives in the garb of constitutional rights — think Big Tobacco and its opposition to restrictions on smoking in public places and bold warnings on cigarette packages. The Supreme Court has made clear that the right to bear arms is not absolute and is subject to regulations and controls. Yet the N.R.A. clings to its groundless arguments that tough regulations violate the Second Amendment. Many of those arguments serve no purpose other than to increase the sales of guns and bullets.


WASHINGTON (AP) — Should veterans deemed too mentally incompetent to handle their own financial affairs be prevented from buying a gun?

The issue, for a time last week, threatened to become the biggest sticking point in a $631 billion defense bill for reshaping a military that is disengaging from a decade of warfare.

Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., sought to amend the bill to stop the Veterans Affairs Department from putting the names of veterans deemed too mentally incompetent to handle their finances into the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, which prohibits them from buying or owning firearms.

Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., objected, saying the measure would make it easier for veterans with mental illness to own a gun, endangering themselves and others.

«I love our veterans, I vote for them all the time. They defend us,» Schumer said. «If you are a veteran or not and you have been judged to be mentally infirm, you should not have a gun.»

Currently, the VA appoints fiduciaries, often family members, to manage the pensions and disability benefits of veterans who are declared incompetent. When that happens, the department automatically enters the veteran’s name in the Criminal Background Check System.

A core group of lawmakers led by Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., has for several years wanted to prohibit the VA from submitting those names to the gun-check registry unless a judge or magistrate deems the veteran to be a danger. This year’s version of the bill has 21 co-sponsors. It passed the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee by voice vote, a tactic generally reserved for noncontroversial legislation. Coburn’s amendment to the defense bill contained comparable language.

«All I am saying is, let them at least have their day in court if you are going to take away a fundamental right given under the Constitution,» Coburn said in the Senate debate last Thursday night.

Congressional aides said Coburn will likely drop his effort to amend the defense bill with his proposal, but that he intends to try again on other bills coming to the Senate floor.

The number of veterans directly affected by the VA’s policy doesn’t appear to very large. Only 185 out of some 127,000 veterans added to the gun-check registry since 1998 have sought to have their names taken off, according to data that the VA shared with lawmakers during a hearing last June.

Still, the legislation over the years has attracted strong support from the National Rifle Association and various advocacy groups for veterans.

«We consider it an abject tragedy that so many of our veterans return home, after risking life and limb to defend our freedom, only to be stripped of their Second Amendment rights because they need help managing their compensation,» Chris Cox, the NRA’s chief lobbyist, wrote last year in an editorial.

The NRA did not respond to queries from the AP about Coburn’s latest effort.

Dan Gross, president of the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, said gun control advocates consider the VA’s current policy reasonable.

«We’re talking about people who have some form of disability to the extent that they’re unable to manage their own affairs,» Gross said. «If you’re deemed unable to handle your own affairs, that’s likely to constitute a high percentage of people who are dangerously mentally ill.»

Tom Tarantino, chief policy officer for Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, said veterans with a traumatic brain injury or post-traumatic stress disorder but who pose no threat to others are possibly being barred from gun ownership. The current restrictions might even be a disincentive for veterans to seek needed treatment, he said.

«We want to remove these stigmas for mental health treatment. It’s a combat injury,» Tarantino said. «They wouldn’t be doing this if you were missing your right hand, so they shouldn’t be doing it if you’re seeking treatment for post-traumatic-stress-disorder or traumatic brain injury.»

VA officials have told lawmakers they believe veterans deemed incompetent already have adequate protections.

For example, they said, veterans can appeal the finding of incompetency based on new evidence. And even if the VA maintains a veteran is incompetent, he can petition the agency to have his firearm rights restored on the basis of not posing a threat to public safety.


Jul 3, 2012 at 2:00 pm

Last week, a federal judge permanently blocked Florida from enforcing a law that banned doctors from discussing gun ownership with their patients. The law, the Firearm Owners’ Privacy Act, signed last year by Gov. Rick Scott (R-FL), prohibited “inquiries regarding firearm ownership or possession…by licensed health care practitioners” and “discrimination…based solely on upon a patient’s firearm ownership or possession.”

Because the law’s exceptions, which allow inquiries about guns if a doctor believes in “good faith” that it is relevant to a patient’s care or safety, fail to provide standards for physicians to follow, the law violates the First Amendment rights of doctors:

In her ruling, Cooke clearly sided with the physicians, saying evidence showed that physicians began “self-censoring” because of the “chilling” effect of the legislation.

“What is curious about this law — and what makes it different from so many other laws involving practitioners’ speech — is that it aims to restrict a practitioner’s ability to provide truthful, non-misleading information to a patient, whether relevant or not at the time of the consult with the patient,” Cooke wrote, citing the benefit of such “preventive medicine.” […]

Cooke, the judge, said the legislation was based on anecdotal information and unfounded conjecture. Her decision was praised by the groups of plaintiffs, which included the Florida Pediatric Society and Florida Academy of Family Physicians.

Not only did the NRA-backed Firearm Owners’ Privacy Act violate doctors’ First Amendment rights, it interfered with routine, meaningful discussion between a doctor and a patient. Questions concerning safety and the home environment are a key part of preventative medicine, and the American Academy of Pediatrics believes that guns constitute a public health issue and that doctors have a duty to ask about ownership.

Out of the 65 children shot in the U.S. every day, eight are killed. And of the one-third of homes with children that have firearms in them, 40 percent store them unlocked. Guns unquestionably affect the health of American children, just as “the presence of open containers of bleach, swimming pools, balloons, and toilet locks” do.

–Alex Brown

  Gold Star Open Carry State
  Open Carry Friendly State
  Licensed Open Carry State
  Non Permissive Open Carry State
  Rural Open Carry State

In the United States, open carry is shorthand terminology for «openly carrying a firearm in public«, as distinguished from concealed carry, where firearms cannot be seen by the casual observer.

The practice of open carry, where gun owners openly carry firearms while they go about their daily business, has seen an increase in the U.S. in recent years.[1][2] This has been marked by a number of organized events intended to increase the visibility of open carry and public awareness about the practice.[3]

Proponents of open carry point to history and statistics, noting that criminals usually conceal their weapons: The 2006 FBI study «Violent Encounters: A Study of Felonious Assaults on Our Nation’s Law Enforcement Officers» by Anthony Pinizzotto revealed that criminals carefully conceal their firearms, and they eschew the use of holsters.[4] Encouraged by groups like OpenCarry.org, GeorgiaCarry.org and some participants of the Free State Project, open carry has seen a revival in recent years,[5][6][7] but it is not yet clear if this represents just a short-term trend.[8][9]

The gun rights community has been mixed in its response. Alan Gottlieb of the Second Amendment Foundation and the NRA have been cautious in expressing support,[10] while special-interest groups such as the aforementioned OpenCarry.org and GeorgiaCarry.org, state-level groups such as the Texas State Rifle Association (TSRA), and certain national groups such as the Gun Owners of America (GOA) have been more outspoken in favor of the practice.

Open carry is strongly opposed by gun control groups such as the Brady Campaign and the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence

In the United States, the laws concerning open carry vary by state and sometimes by municipality.

Definitions

Open carry
The act of publicly carrying a loaded firearm on one’s person in plain sight.
Plain sight
Broadly defined as not being hidden from common observation; varies somewhat from state to state.
Preemption
In the context of open carry: the act of a state legislature passing laws which limit or eliminate the ability of local governments to regulate the possession or carrying of firearms.
Prohibited persons
People prohibited by law from carrying a firearm. Typical examples are felons, those convicted of a misdemeanor of domestic violence, those found to be addicted to alcohol or drugs, and those who have been involuntarily committed to a mental institution.

Today in the United States, the laws vary from state to state regarding open carry of firearms. The categories are defined as follows:

Permissive open carry states
A state has passed full preemption of all firearms laws. They permit open carry to all non-prohibited citizens without permit or license. Open carry is lawful on foot and in a motor vehicle. Shown on the map to the right as «Gold Star» states; the term carries a pro-gun bias, as gun-control advocacy groups like the Brady Center generally give these states very low «scores» on their own ratings systems.
Licensed open carry states
A state has passed full preemption of all firearms laws. They permit open carry of a handgun to all non-prohibited citizens once they have been issued a permit or license. Open carry of a handgun is lawful on foot and in a motor vehicle.
Anomalous open carry states
In these states, open carry of a handgun is generally lawful, but the state may lack preemption or there may be other significant restrictions. Shown in the map legend as «Open Carry Friendly» states; the term is questionable as the limitations and/or lack of pre-emption means that certain areas of these states are, in their judicial system and law enforcement societies, not very «friendly» towards the practice.
Non-permissive open carry states
In these states, open carry of a handgun is not lawful, or is only lawful under such a limited set of circumstances that public carry is prohibited. Such limited circumstances may include when hunting, or while traveling to/from hunting locations, while on property controlled by the person carrying, or for lawful self-defense.

Open carry has never been ruled out as a right under the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution by any court. In the majority opinion in the case of District of Columbia v. Heller (2008), Justice Antonin Scalia wrote concerning the entirety of the elements of the Second Amendment; «We find that they guarantee the individual right to possess and carry weapons in case of confrontation.» However, Scalia continued, «Like most rights, the Second Amendment right is not unlimited. It is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.»[14]

Forty-three states’ constitutions recognize and secure the right to keep and bear arms in some form, and none of those prohibit the open carrying of firearms. Five state constitutions provide that the state legislature may regulate the manner of carrying or bearing arms, and advocates argue that none rule out open carry specifically. Nine states’ constitutions indicate that the concealed carrying of firearms may be regulated and/or prohibited by the state legislature. Open carry advocates argue that, by exclusion, open carrying of arms may not be legislatively controlled in these states. But this is not settled law.[citation needed]

Section 1.7 [15] of Kentucky’s state constitution only empowers the state to enact laws prohibiting «concealed carry».

Concealed carry, or CCW (carrying a concealed weapon), refers to the practice of carrying a handgun or other weapon in public in a concealed manner, either on one’s person or in proximity.

While there is no federal law specifically addressing the issuance of concealed carry permits, 49 states have passed laws allowing citizens to carry certain concealed firearms in public, either without a permit or after obtaining a permit from local government and/or law enforcement.[1] Illinois is the only state without such a provision. The states give different terms for licenses or permits to carry a concealed firearm, such as a Concealed Handgun License/Permit (CHL/CHP), Concealed (Defensive/Deadly) Weapon Permit/License (CDWL/CWP/CWL), Concealed Carry Permit/License (CCP/CCL), License To Carry (Firearms) (LTC/LTCF), Carry of Concealed Deadly Weapon license (CCDW), Concealed Pistol License (CPL), etc. Thirteen states use a single permit to regulate the practices of both concealed and open carry of a handgun.
Some states publish statistics indicating how many residents hold permits to carry concealed weapons, and their demographics. For example, Florida has issued 2,031,106 licenses since adopting its law in 1987, and had 843,463 licensed permit holders as of July 31, 2011.[2] Reported permit holders are predominantly male.[3] Some states have reported the number of permit holders increasing over time.[4]

The number of permit revocations is typically small.


by Joshua Vogel on September 10, 2011

I’m a liberal (or progressive, if you prefer the term). I’ve always had mixed feelings about gun ownership. As a child, I enjoyed playing with cap guns, and a macho, caveman corner of my personality has always liked the idea of wielding a weapon. But, the rational pragmatist in me has never been able to actually justify owning a gun.

Every so often I’ll get the urge to buy a gun for defense purposes. But when I start to reflect on it, I realize that I can’t really envision a situation where I’d need to use it. I mean, sure- I can picture a home break-in, where I’d run to the closet and open my gun safe and pull out a hand gun… but such scenarios feel like the boyhood daydreams of fighting a terrorist (and/or ninja) takeover of my high school. Even if it were to happen, it seems like something that would always play out better in my head than it would in real life.

I’m not a paranoid person. I enjoy reading the masturbatory rants of the folks who contribute to forums about the upcoming collapse of society, or post survivalist or “prepper” videos on youtube, or fret about “Peak Oil”. But I take all these things with more than a grain of salt. For the most part they are unsupported (or poorly supported) fears mixed with outright delusions.

But a couple things happened this week that did finally tip me over the edge and seriously consider a gun purchase: I watched the Republican Presidential Debates, and I heard Obama’s Address to Congress.

As someone who was recently unemployed for well over a year, and who saw his father get laid off during the tail end of that period, I now know firsthand the deep despair that fills someone who can’t get a foothold in this economy. If I hadn’t had the support of my family and friends, I may well have ended up homeless (and that’s within months of receiving a law degree).

Multiply that anxiety by the 14 million unemployed folks in this country, and the countless underemployed, and it’s not hard to see that there are a lot of scared and angry people out there.

Other countries– large, stable countries– have begun to see riots. Without an immediate reversal in course, it is only a matter of time before we see riots in the U.S. –which brings me back to the debates, and the President’s speech.

All of the front-running Republicans have decided that the path to economic recovery is a return to the laissez faire system of government– the same philosophy that was in place when America’s working class was at its weakest, poorest, and most abused. This isn’t a big surprise. As other, well respected, authors have noted, almost all modern Republican policies can be traced back to a singular goal: the creation of cheap labor. That’s all well and good, unless you are the labor. And, in case you didn’t know: 99% of us are the labor.

The President’s speech the next day didn’t make me feel any better. Don’t get me wrong, I think it was a terrific speech- or at least it would have been if he had given it two years ago when it might have done some good. But it’s too late in the game for half-measures. Even if the President got everything that he asked for (he won’t), it still wouldn’t make a significant dent in the unemployment crisis.

So I spent the next few days thinking about the state of nation, and imaging what America is going to look like in a few years. If Obama stays in power without a liberal Congress, things will be much the same for years to come: political gridlock and slowly worsening conditions for the middle class.

If the Republicans take back the executive branch, then political gridlock is the best we can hope for. If they’re able to get traction with their radical fiscal policies, they’ll keep feeding our money to corporations, banks and the ultra-wealthy. The middle class will shrink. More of us will fall into poverty, and with fewer people buying any products, even the large corporations will start to buckle and fail.

With more unemployment, more disparity between the haves and have-nots, and no clear path to prosperity in sight, I can no longer pretend that the U.S. is the stable and secure place I always knew it to be.

It is no longer unreasonable to think that things may go from bad to much, much worse. I’m not saying that an economic collapse will happen, or even that it it is likely to happen. Nor can I begin to predict the severity or duration of any crash that might occur. But in the current political climate it feels foolhardy to ignore the possibility that something very bad is on the horizon.

If you’re skeptically minded, you may be thinking that I’m being alarmist or that my anxiety is premature. You’re right of course. But there’s logic behind my madness. History is rife with examples giant social upheavals that happen with very little notice. Most recently, Egypt taught us that lesson anew. That country went from protests to revolution in a span of days.

I’m not saying that the U.S. is poised for such a revolution, of course- but I am saying that things could turn ugly here, very quickly. With the proper trigger, massive protests could form. If handled poorly, those protests could easily turn to riots. If it can happen in the U.K., it can certainly happen here. And how big could those riots be? And how long might they last? And by the time we’ve figured out the answers to those questions, will it be too late to prepare?

And so, for the first time in my life, I found myself in a gun shop, talking to the proprietor about a good beginner’s firearm for someone who is interested in home defense.

If you’ve never been to a large gun shop (and I’m sure many progressives have not), I strongly recommend that you step inside. For my part, I found the place unsettling. For the first time in my life I held a working firearm, but I didn’t feel any safer– quite the contrary, as a matter of fact.

The thing about being a liberal in a gun shop is that you are privy to a lot of conversations that you wouldn’t otherwise hear. It was rather like walking into a Tea Party convention.

The shop I went to was near my home in North Carolina. When the gruff man behind the counter found out that I was from Massachusetts, he openly mocked it for being a “socialist” state. Moments later, I overheard a woman loudly ranting about how Obama’s job plan was “destroying the country” with more spending. She was interested in buying some gold coins for when the economy collapsed.

To be fair, most folks were just there to talk about guns, and play with guns, and buy new gadgets to affix to their guns. Their comfort and knowledge of firearms made me feel nervous. I was in store full of 50+ people who didn’t feel at all shy about expressing their distain for liberals and “socialists”. All of them, I’m convinced, would have had no trouble gunning me down in an honest firefight.

I went into that store to buy a gun to protect my family in the event of a riot. I walked out feeling very nervous that if their actually was major social upheaval in the United States, a lot of angry conservatives would have no problem forming an organized militia, and they wouldn’t have a whole lot of sympathy for the scores of unarmed “socialist” progressives out there.

Now I find myself wishing that liberals would flock to gun shops en masse so that they can see the world I caught a glimpse of, and so that they could interact with the same folks I did, and maybe engage in some lively political discussion. These gun shops are factories for unchecked Tea-Party-style nonsense. It means that a lot of angry and armed folks are spending their days amplifying each other’s misunderstanding and distrust of the rest of us.

And also- (and I realize that this part is just pure paranoia)– I’d like to know that if things ever really degrade, there would be a whole lot of armed liberals out there to keep the armed conservatives in check. Or at the very least, I’d like enough of them to lay down sufficient cover fire for me while I run from Whole Foods back to my Prius.


Why Americans now carry handguns in so many public places, from parks to college campuses. Is it making the country safer or more dangerous?

By Patrik Jonsson, Staff writer / March 11, 2012

Garner, N.C.

Leaning against a scrub pine as preschoolers scurry about at his feet, Shane Gazda, father of 3-year-old twins, recalls a conundrum he faced earlier that morning: whether to take his Smith & Wesson .40 caliber handgun to a Groundhog Day celebration in this town’s White Deer Park.

After all, what was once against the law in North Carolina – carrying a concealed gun in a town park, square, or greenway – is now, as of Dec. 1, 2011, very much allowed. To Mr. Gazda, who likes to shoot targets in his backyard, an event as innocent as paying homage to a rodent could turn dangerous if the wrong person shows up.

«Part of it is being ready for cataclysm every day,» says Gazda, a hospital maintenance engineer. «And to be honest, I started carrying precisely to protect not just myself, but my family, and anyone around me who needs help.»

Gun laws: How much do you know?

In the end, Gazda left the gun at home. But his internal debate is emblematic of one a growing number of Americans are having almost daily. Thirty years after a powerful gun-control movement swept the country, Americans are embracing the idea of owning and carrying firearms with a zeal rarely seen since the days of muskets and militias.

A combination of favorable court rulings, grass-roots activism, traditional fears of crime, and modern anxieties about government has led to what may be a tipping point on an issue that just a few years ago was one of America’s most contentious. Gun rights have now expanded to the point where the fundamental question seems not to be «should we be able to carry guns,» but instead is «where can’t we carry them?«

The answer: not very many places.

The new North Carolina statute, in fact, is one of hundreds of new gun-friendly laws enacted by states and localities in the past few years alone. Mississippi lawmakers, for instance, recently voted to allow gun owners who take an extra safety class to carry hidden weapons on college campuses and in courthouses. Ohio has granted people with permits the right to bring concealed weapons into restaurants, bars, and sports arenas. A 2010 Indiana law stipulates that private business owners let employees keep guns in their cars when parked on company property. And New Hampshire, along with several other states, has removed restrictions on bearing arms in the ultimate politically symbolic place – the State House.

In 2009, three times as many pro-gun laws were passed in the United States as antigun measures – a trend that experts say has only accelerated since then. Fully 40 states now mandate that anyone who asks for a concealed-carry permit and meets the qualifications must be issued one. One result: The number of concealed-weapon license holders in the US has gone from a few hundred thousand 10 years ago to more than 6 million today. In some parts of Tennessee, 1 out of every 11 people on the street is either carrying a weapon or has a license to do so.

«It’s a huge sea change, and one lesson to take out of all of this is that it’s amazing how fast attitudes on constitutional issues can change,» says Glenn Reynolds, a law professor at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, and the author of «An Army of Davids.» «The thinking has turned in a way that many thought to be impossible only 15 years ago.»

By CAMERON MCWHIRTER and KARISHMA MEHROTRA
June 29, 2014 9:11 p.m. ET

ATLANTA—Bars, houses of worship, and other public establishments are wrestling with what to do about a new law in Georgia that starting on Tuesday dramatically will expand gun-permit holders' right to carry weapons where people congregate.

The law allows licensed gun owners to bring weapons to bars and houses of worship, unless forbidden by proprietors. Legally-owned guns also are allowed in unrestricted areas of airports and government buildings, and may be carried at schools and in colleges if permitted by officials.

Several other states allow guns in bars or churches, but Georgia's "Safe Carry Protection Act," which passed the state legislature overwhelmingly earlier this year, is unusual in that it expanded gun rights in multiple places with one omnibus law.



This is horrifying: According to multiple news outlets, a Target employee found a loaded handgun in the toy aisle of a store in South Carolina.

When you're shopping at Target, you shouldn't have to worry about someone parading around with a semiautomatic rifle, or whether your kid is going to find a loaded handgun while looking at toys.

More than 115,000 people have already signed the petition to Target asking for gun sense policies to protect customers and employees from gun violence -- and over the next two days volunteers are going to be delivering these petitions all across the country.

Gun extremists armed with semiautomatic rifles have walked into Target locations around the country, weapons out and loaded, making sure customers saw their guns.
It’s often legal to do this, because many states have weak laws that allow people to openly carry around loaded weapons without any permits, training, or background checks. That means it’s up to companies themselves to protect their customers when the law won’t. Yet according to the Wall Street Journal, Target doesn’t have any policies to stop people from carrying weapons in its stores:
Target, which boasts on its website that between 80% and 90% of its customers are women, has no restrictions on customers carrying guns in its stores.
Chipotle, Starbucks, Chili’s, Sonic Drive-In, and Jack in the Box have already responded to petitions from moms and other gun sense supporters asking the stores not to allow guns. Now it’s up to Target to protect families who shop in its stores..

Sign the petition




Concealed weapon law tossed by fed appeals court

Published February 13, 2014Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO – A divided federal appeals court on Thursday struck down California's concealed weapons rules, saying they violate the Second Amendment right to bear arms.

By a 2-1 vote, the three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said California was wrong to require applicants to show good cause to receive a permit to carry a concealed weapon.

"The right to bear arms includes the right to carry an operable firearm outside the home for the lawful purpose of self-defense," Judge Diarmuid O'Scannlain wrote for the majority.








September 24, 2013

It has been 577 days since George Zimmerman shot and killed our son Travyon. And it's been 74 days since a jury set George Zimmerman free, in part because of broken "Stand Your Ground" laws that protect killers like Zimmerman -- killers who first instigate conflicts and then claim self-defense.
In July, we started a petition on Change.org calling for "Stand Your Ground" laws to be reviewed and amended nationwide, but we need to turn up the pressure in order to change the same law in Texas.
Can you start your own petition calling on Governor Perry and the Texas legislature to review and amend Texas' "Stand Your Ground" law so that people like George Zimmerman can't kill with impunity?
Reviewing and amending separate laws in 22 different states isn't going to be easy -- we can't do it on our own. That's why we're asking for your help in Texas, because we know that Governor Perry and your state legislature will be most heavily influenced by the voices of constituents like you.
We already know that there's a major groundswell of people who want to see these laws amended, because more than 400,000 people have signed our petition. Now it's time to take that energy and harness it, state by state, to make sure no one can stalk, chase, and kill an unarmed child and get away with it.
Not in Texas. Not in Florida. Not anywhere in America.
Our grief is overwhelming, but we are fortified by our fight to honor Trayvon's memory by fixing these broken laws. Starting a petition only takes a few minutes. Yours could be the voice that makes sure no child in Texas ever has to experience what happened to our son.
Click here to start your own petition calling on Governor Perry and the Texas legislature to review and amend Texas' "Stand Your Ground" laws.
Thank you for standing with us, and with Trayvon.
Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton




Friend --

My son, Daniel, was a smart, quiet kid.

He'd just become a straight-A student, and he was overcoming his shyness as a new member of the debate team.

On April 20th, 1999, my beautiful and bright 15-year-old son was killed by two teenagers with guns in the library of Columbine High School -- one of 12 innocent kids who lost their lives for no reason at all.

It's been 14 years since that horrible day -- 14 years of fighting so no family has to grieve like ours did.

These tragedies keep happening, and so far, Congress has failed to take common-sense action to stop them -- even though nine in 10 Americans have agreed that it's time to act by expanding background checks to close the loopholes that put guns in the hands of dangerous people.

This Wednesday, OFA and allied organizations are standing up for a national Day of Action to ask members of Congress: What will it take to finally act to prevent gun violence?

I hope you'll join in -- say you'll do one thing this week to show Congress you want action to prevent gun violence.

The last questions you ever want to hear as a parent are: "What was your child wearing, and do you have any dental records?"

That's what the police asked me the evening of the shooting at Columbine High, as they tried to establish who had been killed.

It was the most hopeless I'd ever felt.

Since Daniel's death, I've found a way to honor him: by trying to prevent other families from feeling this pain. I've advocated locally and nationally for smarter gun laws -- even helping achieve a statewide ballot victory here in Colorado.

In December, when I heard about the shooting in Newtown, I sat in my office and broke down. I was watching another community torn apart by guns -- more parents grieving, more kids who would never see graduation, or a wedding, or a family of their own.

And in the wake of another tragedy, nine in 10 Americans agreed that it was time to act -- expand background checks to close the loopholes that put guns in the hands of dangerous people.

But Congress disappointed us, putting politics above the safety of our kids.

That's why this week, we're asking: How many parents will have to go through what I did before we say "enough"?

You should be a part of this, too. Tell Congress you're going to keep asking until they act:

http://my.barackobama.com/Do-One-Thing-for-Gun-Violence-Prevention

Thank you,

Tom

Tom Mauser
Littleton, Colorado







January 17, 2013

On Tuesday, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the sweeping gun measure, the nation's toughest. It includes a ban on the possession of high-capacity magazines.

The
 statute currently written does NOT exempt law enforcement officers. The NYPD, the State Police and virtually every law enforcement agency in the state carry 9-millimeter guns, which have a 15-round capacity.

Unless an exemption is added by the time the law takes effect in March, police would technically be in violation of the new gun measure. A spokesman for the Governor's office called us to say, "We are still working out some details of the law and the exemption will be included."





Published: 31 December, 2012, 18:57

There’s no country in the world where you can’t smoke a cigar in a bar, but you may sip bourbon with your Colt Python – only in America!

While the Pentagon assiduously burns billions of dollars to export the cult of violence abroad, in the meantime, back at the domestic front, the Connecticut carnage has resurrected the moribund discussion about the perennial issue: the national suicidal pastime which annually devours 30,000 people, including 2,800 kids.

Even US casualties in Afghanistan – 309 KIA in 2012 – is no match to 414 murders in New York City the same year, celebrated as the record-lowest level in over four decades, down from the apex of 2,000 annual homicides, which accidentally coincides with the overall Operation Enduring Freedom body-count since the beginning of the invasion.

I ain’t no gun-shy latte-lapping liberal or trigger-happy loony. As a veteran and responsible gun owner with a concealed carry permit, I have to admit that the sheer enormity of violence in the US doesn’t jibe well with black & white, left & right polarized partisanship.



In essence, the debate is divided & dominated by one question – what is the main culprit of the homeland heinous crimes, a deadly gun or an evil mind?

In Utopia, nobody would pack heat and everybody would live in harmony, in Dystopia, everybody would be armed to the teeth and dangerously paranoiac.

Given a choice between disarmament & arms race, the USA today is on a fast track to destination D – distraction or despair, you name it.
Spiking the guns

There’s no doubt that all too often, firearms figure prominently as killing multipliers in endemic shooting sprees. Nevertheless, to single them out as the one & only reason that gnaws at the heart of America would be:

– Morally & intellectually dishonest, absolving society at large, the local community and individuals in particular from any duty & responsibility and shifting the blame from the perpetrators & collaborators to the material evidence to the crime.

– Disingenuous – if guns were intrinsically sinful, the US president, Congress and the Supreme Court wouldn’t kowtow to NRA. Stand united, and they’d show the true colors and call for abolition of the 2nd Amendment and comprehensive weapons ban.

– Cynical – drugs, fast food & soft drink legally and profitably hurt more kids than illegal access to alcohol, tobacco & firearms. Who would dare to infringe on ‘freedom of choice’ and prohibit all sweet & slow killers?

The point is it takes a wicked mind to convert a gun into a murderous accomplice, not the other way around.
Multiple delivery vehicles

The gun manufacturing industry is just a little bro of the omnipotent military industrial complex, but it wields tremendous clout over its customer base in the most politicized business in the US.

Some of its ethically-free members shamelessly exploit & condone the cult of violence, propagated by entertainment industry, as freebie product placement in toys, movies, TV and video training games, including the nefarious “Kindergarten Killer.”
Target audience

So what drives the restless minds to ubiquitous guns, making Americans pony up $12 billion for arms & ammo a year, come hell or high water? Here’s a cursory profiling, but some characters could be tempted by multiple motives:

Frontier spirit: The true believers in the sacrosanct right for any individual to bear arms under the aegis of the 2nd Amendment. They flatly refuse to consider a “states’ rights” view that the purpose of the clause is only to protect the states in their authority to maintain formal, organized militia units which are currently substituted and overrepresented by the Pentagon and the National Guard.

Whether they need a gun or not, it doesn’t matter: for ‘the freedom fighters’, the ‘right’ to cling to firearms is article of faith in preordained exceptionalism, the ultimate totem of Americana, which, even if imported, is more symbolic than Stetson hats and Lucchese boots made in the USA.

‘The freedom fighters’ are the posse comitatus and the stormtroopers of the NRA who are ready to fight tooth & nail against Indians, Brits, aliens, commies, feds and legislators to protect their rights to bear arms any time anywhere, no matter what and the hell with individual responsibility and public safety.

Collecting spirit: This is a rarified breed of aloof connoisseurs which are mostly intelligence & military types, active duty and otherwise. They keep a low profile and enjoy the pleasure of quietly building up their exquisite caches to the envy of their pals at local SWAT teams. They keep their powder dry, but they’re the champs at burning their greenbacks on amassing the formidable arsenals of trophies.

Shooting spirit: They love it, they know it and they do it skillfully, safely & responsibly. As hunters and sports enthusiasts, ‘the weekend warriors’ wastemore ammo than all other categories combined, being the most active fun-loving crowd among gun owners. They don’t bullshit about guns & rights. For them, it’s all about shooting the bull’s eye.

Shopping spirit: Impulsive & skittish customers – prodded by the fear factor, peer pressure and propaganda of violence, these armchair commandos and wannabe Rambos ogle a gun as an adult pacifier with ‘cool’ bragging rights, a tangible insurance against intangible threats, however remote & imaginary.

This nervous Nellie types are suckers for bigger, ‘badder’ guns, which they honestly believe could compensate their total lack of situational awareness and friend or foe selective accuracy under the adrenalin rush of the enemy fire.

They are the driving force of consumerism and the firepower fetishism, oblivious to mundane murder depredations, only to be jolted into panic hoarding after media coverage of another shooting rampage or gun limitations rumor mill.
Possessed & obsessed

The extreme sides of the antisocial personality disorder are lopsidedly represented by the traditional ‘sane’ majority and deinstitutionalized & marginalized ‘insane’ minority:

Long-time active serial killers: career criminals who don’t have suicidal ideations or qualms of conscience. As outlaws and the main customers of the firearms black market, they illegally & easily get anything they want and couldn’t care less about regulations & restrictions for legit gun owners.

The committed killers, isolated & organized, are responsible for the overwhelming majority of homicides – with and without firearms – but haven’t gotten the public attention they deserve. The true heroes of the violence cult who made America exceptional by the notorious homicide rate (which exceeds Japan’s by 1,000 times), they represent & reproduce its core value, the freedom to kill & be killed.

One-time dormant multiple murderers: the miserable misfits aka psychos, while not necessarily ‘born to kill’, have their worst basic instinct awakened & conditioned by omnipresent propaganda of violence & vengeance.

They are the ultimate customers of the cult, who are capable to decode its subliminal message – death shall make thou free – into clarion call to action as the ‘ultimate solution’ to settle the scores with the hostile society.

The liberals have ‘liberated’ maniacs from involuntary commitment, exposing them to the ‘values’ of violence, while the NRA has lobbied to protect their rights to legally obtain & keep firearms, thus channeling their macabre fantasies into the outer world.

These ‘accidental’ murderers, neglected or abused by their families & communities, perpetrate less than 1 per cent of overall homicides, but attract 99 per cent of media attention, prompting publicity vultures of their kind to step out from the dark and copycat their horrific crimes.
Mind Control

To paraphrase the old adage, guns don’t regulate themselves, people do. No doubt, it’s a commendable idea to tighten up gun legislature: eliminate restrictions on tracing info sharing (Tiahrt amendments), close the gaping loopholes in state laws, ban assault rifles & high capacity clips and establish comprehensive national FBI & ATF data clearing house to encompass prospective buyers, owners & guns.

Alas, in the Disunited States of America, it is a daydream that will scarcely ever come true: a state of anarchy in firearms regulation has been created & guarded by a cabal of special interests, led by the NRA, which controls pusillanimous politicians, represents armed extremists & psychos and discredits responsible gun manufacturers & owners.

If Biden & Bloomberg have the mojo to win the undeclared war by Americans against Americans for Americans, they should set the priorities straight: liberate the USA from the bloody NRA!

Are you ready for the American Spring?

Godspeed and Happy New Year!




"The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,"

Wayne LaPierre, chief executive of the NRA
In Washington on Friday, influential National Rifle Association (NRA) broke a week-long silence with a robust defence of its pro-gun position.

Wayne LaPierre, chief executive of the NRA, criticised politicians who had "exploited" the tragedy in Newtown for "political gain" and took aim at laws designating schools as gun-free zones.

"They tell every insane killer in America that schools are the safest place to inflict maximum mayhem with minimum risk," he said.

Mr LaPierre called for a national database of the mentally ill and blamed violent video games and films for portraying murder as a "way of life".

He spoke out against the media for demonizing lawful gun owners, and for suggesting a ban on certain types of weapon would be effective.

Congress should authorise funding for armed security in every school in the country, he said, adding that an "extraordinary corps" of trained professionals could be drawn from active and retired police officers, security professionals and firefighters around the country.



Mr LaPierre was interrupted twice by anti-gun protesters carrying banners and declaring that the NRA had "blood on its hands".

The guns used in the shooting had been legally bought by the gunman's mother, Nancy Lanza.

The shooting has seen some pro-gun congressmen say the mass shooting has prompted them to change their views on whether guns should be regulated more strictly in the US.

Meanwhile California Senator Dianne Feinstein, who has been an advocate for tighter gun laws, said she would introduce new legislation when Congress meets for the first time in the new year.

But there is no bipartisan consensus on the issue, with others backing the NRA line that teachers in schools should be armed in order to better defend students if a shooting occurs.

In recent years, the N.R.A. has aggressively lobbied federal and state governments to dilute or eliminate numerous regulations on gun ownership. And the clearest beneficiary has been the gun industry — sales of firearms and ammunition have grown 5.7 percent a year since 2007, to nearly $12 billion this year, according to IBISWorld, a market research firm. Despite the recession, arms sales have been growing so fast that domestic manufacturers haven’t been able to keep up. Imports of arms have grown 3.6 percent a year in the last five years.
The industry has, in turn, been a big supporter of the N.R.A. It has contributed between $14.7 million and $38.9 million to an N.R.A.-corporate-giving campaign since 2005, according to a report published last year by the Violence Policy Center, a nonprofit group that advocates greater gun control. The estimate is based on a study of the N.R.A.’s “Ring of Freedom” program and very likely understates the industry’s total financial support for the association, which does not publicly disclose a comprehensive list of its donors and how much they have given.
Officials from the N.R.A. have repeatedly said their main goal is to protect the Second Amendment rights of rank-and-file members who like to hunt or want guns for protection. But that claim is at odds with surveys that show a majority of N.R.A. members and a majority of American gun owners often support restrictions on gun sales and ownership that the N.R.A. has bitterly fought.
For instance, a 2009 poll commissioned by Mayors Against Illegal Guns found that 69 percent of N.R.A. members would support requiring all sellers at gun shows to conduct background checks of prospective buyers, which they do not have to do now and which the N.R.A. has steadfastly argued against. If lawful gun owners are willing to subject themselves to background checks, why is the association resisting? Its position appears only to serve the interest of gun makers and dealers who want to increase sales even if it means having dangerous weapons fall into the hands of criminals and violent individuals.
Businesses and special-interest groups often cloak their profit motives in the garb of constitutional rights — think Big Tobacco and its opposition to restrictions on smoking in public places and bold warnings on cigarette packages. The Supreme Court has made clear that the right to bear arms is not absolute and is subject to regulations and controls. Yet the N.R.A. clings to its groundless arguments that tough regulations violate the Second Amendment. Many of those arguments serve no purpose other than to increase the sales of guns and bullets.





WASHINGTON (AP) — Should veterans deemed too mentally incompetent to handle their own financial affairs be prevented from buying a gun?

The issue, for a time last week, threatened to become the biggest sticking point in a $631 billion defense bill for reshaping a military that is disengaging from a decade of warfare.

Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., sought to amend the bill to stop the Veterans Affairs Department from putting the names of veterans deemed too mentally incompetent to handle their finances into the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, which prohibits them from buying or owning firearms.

Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., objected, saying the measure would make it easier for veterans with mental illness to own a gun, endangering themselves and others.

"I love our veterans, I vote for them all the time. They defend us," Schumer said. "If you are a veteran or not and you have been judged to be mentally infirm, you should not have a gun."

Currently, the VA appoints fiduciaries, often family members, to manage the pensions and disability benefits of veterans who are declared incompetent. When that happens, the department automatically enters the veteran's name in the Criminal Background Check System.



A core group of lawmakers led by Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., has for several years wanted to prohibit the VA from submitting those names to the gun-check registry unless a judge or magistrate deems the veteran to be a danger. This year's version of the bill has 21 co-sponsors. It passed the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee by voice vote, a tactic generally reserved for noncontroversial legislation. Coburn's amendment to the defense bill contained comparable language.

"All I am saying is, let them at least have their day in court if you are going to take away a fundamental right given under the Constitution," Coburn said in the Senate debate last Thursday night.

Congressional aides said Coburn will likely drop his effort to amend the defense bill with his proposal, but that he intends to try again on other bills coming to the Senate floor.

The number of veterans directly affected by the VA's policy doesn't appear to very large. Only 185 out of some 127,000 veterans added to the gun-check registry since 1998 have sought to have their names taken off, according to data that the VA shared with lawmakers during a hearing last June.

Still, the legislation over the years has attracted strong support from the National Rifle Association and various advocacy groups for veterans.

"We consider it an abject tragedy that so many of our veterans return home, after risking life and limb to defend our freedom, only to be stripped of their Second Amendment rights because they need help managing their compensation," Chris Cox, the NRA's chief lobbyist, wrote last year in an editorial.

The NRA did not respond to queries from the AP about Coburn's latest effort.

Dan Gross, president of the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, said gun control advocates consider the VA's current policy reasonable.

"We're talking about people who have some form of disability to the extent that they're unable to manage their own affairs," Gross said. "If you're deemed unable to handle your own affairs, that's likely to constitute a high percentage of people who are dangerously mentally ill."

Tom Tarantino, chief policy officer for Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, said veterans with a traumatic brain injury or post-traumatic stress disorder but who pose no threat to others are possibly being barred from gun ownership. The current restrictions might even be a disincentive for veterans to seek needed treatment, he said.

"We want to remove these stigmas for mental health treatment. It's a combat injury," Tarantino said. "They wouldn't be doing this if you were missing your right hand, so they shouldn't be doing it if you're seeking treatment for post-traumatic-stress-disorder or traumatic brain injury."

VA officials have told lawmakers they believe veterans deemed incompetent already have adequate protections.

For example, they said, veterans can appeal the finding of incompetency based on new evidence. And even if the VA maintains a veteran is incompetent, he can petition the agency to have his firearm rights restored on the basis of not posing a threat to public safety.



Jul 3, 2012 at 2:00 pm

Last week, a federal judge permanently blocked Florida from enforcing a law that banned doctors from discussing gun ownership with their patients. The law, the Firearm Owners’ Privacy Act, signed last year by Gov. Rick Scott (R-FL), prohibited “inquiries regarding firearm ownership or possession…by licensed health care practitioners” and “discrimination…based solely on upon a patient’s firearm ownership or possession.”

Because the law’s exceptions, which allow inquiries about guns if a doctor believes in “good faith” that it is relevant to a patient’s care or safety, fail to provide standards for physicians to follow, the law violates the First Amendment rights of doctors:



In her ruling, Cooke clearly sided with the physicians, saying evidence showed that physicians began “self-censoring” because of the “chilling” effect of the legislation.

“What is curious about this law — and what makes it different from so many other laws involving practitioners’ speech — is that it aims to restrict a practitioner’s ability to provide truthful, non-misleading information to a patient, whether relevant or not at the time of the consult with the patient,” Cooke wrote, citing the benefit of such “preventive medicine.” [...]

Cooke, the judge, said the legislation was based on anecdotal information and unfounded conjecture. Her decision was praised by the groups of plaintiffs, which included the Florida Pediatric Society and Florida Academy of Family Physicians.

Not only did the NRA-backed Firearm Owners’ Privacy Act violate doctors’ First Amendment rights, it interfered with routine, meaningful discussion between a doctor and a patient. Questions concerning safety and the home environment are a key part of preventative medicine, and the American Academy of Pediatrics believes that guns constitute a public health issue and that doctors have a duty to ask about ownership.

Out of the 65 children shot in the U.S. every day, eight are killed. And of the one-third of homes with children that have firearms in them, 40 percent store them unlocked. Guns unquestionably affect the health of American children, just as “the presence of open containers of bleach, swimming pools, balloons, and toilet locks” do.

–Alex Brown





  Gold Star Open Carry State
  Open Carry Friendly State
  Licensed Open Carry State
  Non Permissive Open Carry State
  Rural Open Carry State

In the United States, open carry is shorthand terminology for "openly carrying a firearm in public", as distinguished from concealed carry, where firearms cannot be seen by the casual observer.



The practice of open carry, where gun owners openly carry firearms while they go about their daily business, has seen an increase in the U.S. in recent years.[1][2] This has been marked by a number of organized events intended to increase the visibility of open carry and public awareness about the practice.[3]

Proponents of open carry point to history and statistics, noting that criminals usually conceal their weapons: The 2006 FBI study "Violent Encounters: A Study of Felonious Assaults on Our Nation's Law Enforcement Officers" by Anthony Pinizzotto revealed that criminals carefully conceal their firearms, and they eschew the use of holsters.[4] Encouraged by groups like OpenCarry.org, GeorgiaCarry.org and some participants of the Free State Project, open carry has seen a revival in recent years,[5][6][7] but it is not yet clear if this represents just a short-term trend.[8][9]

The gun rights community has been mixed in its response. Alan Gottlieb of the Second Amendment Foundation and the NRA have been cautious in expressing support,[10] while special-interest groups such as the aforementioned OpenCarry.org and GeorgiaCarry.org, state-level groups such as the Texas State Rifle Association (TSRA), and certain national groups such as the Gun Owners of America (GOA) have been more outspoken in favor of the practice.

Open carry is strongly opposed by gun control groups such as the Brady Campaign and the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence

In the United States, the laws concerning open carry vary by state and sometimes by municipality.

Definitions

Open carry
The act of publicly carrying a loaded firearm on one's person in plain sight.
Plain sight
Broadly defined as not being hidden from common observation; varies somewhat from state to state.
Preemption
In the context of open carry: the act of a state legislature passing laws which limit or eliminate the ability of local governments to regulate the possession or carrying of firearms.
Prohibited persons
People prohibited by law from carrying a firearm. Typical examples are felons, those convicted of a misdemeanor of domestic violence, those found to be addicted to alcohol or drugs, and those who have been involuntarily committed to a mental institution.
Today in the United States, the laws vary from state to state regarding open carry of firearms. The categories are defined as follows:
Permissive open carry states
A state has passed full preemption of all firearms laws. They permit open carry to all non-prohibited citizens without permit or license. Open carry is lawful on foot and in a motor vehicle. Shown on the map to the right as "Gold Star" states; the term carries a pro-gun bias, as gun-control advocacy groups like the Brady Center generally give these states very low "scores" on their own ratings systems.
Licensed open carry states
A state has passed full preemption of all firearms laws. They permit open carry of a handgun to all non-prohibited citizens once they have been issued a permit or license. Open carry of a handgun is lawful on foot and in a motor vehicle.
Anomalous open carry states
In these states, open carry of a handgun is generally lawful, but the state may lack preemption or there may be other significant restrictions. Shown in the map legend as "Open Carry Friendly" states; the term is questionable as the limitations and/or lack of pre-emption means that certain areas of these states are, in their judicial system and law enforcement societies, not very "friendly" towards the practice.
Non-permissive open carry states
In these states, open carry of a handgun is not lawful, or is only lawful under such a limited set of circumstances that public carry is prohibited. Such limited circumstances may include when hunting, or while traveling to/from hunting locations, while on property controlled by the person carrying, or for lawful self-defense.
Open carry has never been ruled out as a right under the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution by any court. In the majority opinion in the case of District of Columbia v. Heller (2008), Justice Antonin Scalia wrote concerning the entirety of the elements of the Second Amendment; "We find that they guarantee the individual right to possess and carry weapons in case of confrontation." However, Scalia continued, "Like most rights, the Second Amendment right is not unlimited. It is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose."[14]

Forty-three states' constitutions recognize and secure the right to keep and bear arms in some form, and none of those prohibit the open carrying of firearms. Five state constitutions provide that the state legislature may regulate the manner of carrying or bearing arms, and advocates argue that none rule out open carry specifically. Nine states' constitutions indicate that the concealed carrying of firearms may be regulated and/or prohibited by the state legislature. Open carry advocates argue that, by exclusion, open carrying of arms may not be legislatively controlled in these states. But this is not settled law.[citation needed]

Section 1.7 [15] of Kentucky's state constitution only empowers the state to enact laws prohibiting "concealed carry".


Concealed carry, or CCW (carrying a concealed weapon), refers to the practice of carrying a handgun or other weapon in public in a concealed manner, either on one's person or in proximity.

While there is no federal law specifically addressing the issuance of concealed carry permits, 49 states have passed laws allowing citizens to carry certain concealed firearms in public, either without a permit or after obtaining a permit from local government and/or law enforcement.[1] Illinois is the only state without such a provision. The states give different terms for licenses or permits to carry a concealed firearm, such as a Concealed Handgun License/Permit (CHL/CHP), Concealed (Defensive/Deadly) Weapon Permit/License (CDWL/CWP/CWL), Concealed Carry Permit/License (CCP/CCL), License To Carry (Firearms) (LTC/LTCF), Carry of Concealed Deadly Weapon license (CCDW), Concealed Pistol License (CPL), etc. Thirteen states use a single permit to regulate the practices of both concealed and open carry of a handgun.
Some states publish statistics indicating how many residents hold permits to carry concealed weapons, and their demographics. For example, Florida has issued 2,031,106 licenses since adopting its law in 1987, and had 843,463 licensed permit holders as of July 31, 2011.[2] Reported permit holders are predominantly male.[3] Some states have reported the number of permit holders increasing over time.[4]

The number of permit revocations is typically small.







by Joshua Vogel on September 10, 2011

I’m a liberal (or progressive, if you prefer the term). I’ve always had mixed feelings about gun ownership. As a child, I enjoyed playing with cap guns, and a macho, caveman corner of my personality has always liked the idea of wielding a weapon. But, the rational pragmatist in me has never been able to actually justify owning a gun.

Every so often I’ll get the urge to buy a gun for defense purposes. But when I start to reflect on it, I realize that I can’t really envision a situation where I’d need to use it. I mean, sure- I can picture a home break-in, where I’d run to the closet and open my gun safe and pull out a hand gun… but such scenarios feel like the boyhood daydreams of fighting a terrorist (and/or ninja) takeover of my high school. Even if it were to happen, it seems like something that would always play out better in my head than it would in real life.

I’m not a paranoid person. I enjoy reading the masturbatory rants of the folks who contribute to forums about the upcoming collapse of society, or post survivalist or “prepper” videos on youtube, or fret about “Peak Oil”. But I take all these things with more than a grain of salt. For the most part they are unsupported (or poorly supported) fears mixed with outright delusions.

But a couple things happened this week that did finally tip me over the edge and seriously consider a gun purchase: I watched the Republican Presidential Debates, and I heard Obama’s Address to Congress.

As someone who was recently unemployed for well over a year, and who saw his father get laid off during the tail end of that period, I now know firsthand the deep despair that fills someone who can’t get a foothold in this economy. If I hadn’t had the support of my family and friends, I may well have ended up homeless (and that’s within months of receiving a law degree).

Multiply that anxiety by the 14 million unemployed folks in this country, and the countless underemployed, and it’s not hard to see that there are a lot of scared and angry people out there.

Other countries– large, stable countries– have begun to see riots. Without an immediate reversal in course, it is only a matter of time before we see riots in the U.S. –which brings me back to the debates, and the President’s speech.

All of the front-running Republicans have decided that the path to economic recovery is a return to the laissez faire system of government– the same philosophy that was in place when America’s working class was at its weakest, poorest, and most abused. This isn’t a big surprise. As other, well respected, authors have noted, almost all modern Republican policies can be traced back to a singular goal: the creation of cheap labor. That’s all well and good, unless you are the labor. And, in case you didn’t know: 99% of us are the labor.

The President’s speech the next day didn’t make me feel any better. Don’t get me wrong, I think it was a terrific speech- or at least it would have been if he had given it two years ago when it might have done some good. But it’s too late in the game for half-measures. Even if the President got everything that he asked for (he won’t), it still wouldn’t make a significant dent in the unemployment crisis.

So I spent the next few days thinking about the state of nation, and imaging what America is going to look like in a few years. If Obama stays in power without a liberal Congress, things will be much the same for years to come: political gridlock and slowly worsening conditions for the middle class.

If the Republicans take back the executive branch, then political gridlock is the best we can hope for. If they’re able to get traction with their radical fiscal policies, they’ll keep feeding our money to corporations, banks and the ultra-wealthy. The middle class will shrink. More of us will fall into poverty, and with fewer people buying any products, even the large corporations will start to buckle and fail.

With more unemployment, more disparity between the haves and have-nots, and no clear path to prosperity in sight, I can no longer pretend that the U.S. is the stable and secure place I always knew it to be.

It is no longer unreasonable to think that things may go from bad to much, much worse. I’m not saying that an economic collapse will happen, or even that it it is likely to happen. Nor can I begin to predict the severity or duration of any crash that might occur. But in the current political climate it feels foolhardy to ignore the possibility that something very bad is on the horizon.

If you’re skeptically minded, you may be thinking that I’m being alarmist or that my anxiety is premature. You’re right of course. But there’s logic behind my madness. History is rife with examples giant social upheavals that happen with very little notice. Most recently, Egypt taught us that lesson anew. That country went from protests to revolution in a span of days.

I’m not saying that the U.S. is poised for such a revolution, of course- but I am saying that things could turn ugly here, very quickly. With the proper trigger, massive protests could form. If handled poorly, those protests could easily turn to riots. If it can happen in the U.K., it can certainly happen here. And how big could those riots be? And how long might they last? And by the time we’ve figured out the answers to those questions, will it be too late to prepare?

And so, for the first time in my life, I found myself in a gun shop, talking to the proprietor about a good beginner’s firearm for someone who is interested in home defense.

If you’ve never been to a large gun shop (and I’m sure many progressives have not), I strongly recommend that you step inside. For my part, I found the place unsettling. For the first time in my life I held a working firearm, but I didn’t feel any safer– quite the contrary, as a matter of fact.

The thing about being a liberal in a gun shop is that you are privy to a lot of conversations that you wouldn’t otherwise hear. It was rather like walking into a Tea Party convention.

The shop I went to was near my home in North Carolina. When the gruff man behind the counter found out that I was from Massachusetts, he openly mocked it for being a “socialist” state. Moments later, I overheard a woman loudly ranting about how Obama’s job plan was “destroying the country” with more spending. She was interested in buying some gold coins for when the economy collapsed.

To be fair, most folks were just there to talk about guns, and play with guns, and buy new gadgets to affix to their guns. Their comfort and knowledge of firearms made me feel nervous. I was in store full of 50+ people who didn’t feel at all shy about expressing their distain for liberals and “socialists”. All of them, I’m convinced, would have had no trouble gunning me down in an honest firefight.

I went into that store to buy a gun to protect my family in the event of a riot. I walked out feeling very nervous that if their actually was major social upheaval in the United States, a lot of angry conservatives would have no problem forming an organized militia, and they wouldn’t have a whole lot of sympathy for the scores of unarmed “socialist” progressives out there.

Now I find myself wishing that liberals would flock to gun shops en masse so that they can see the world I caught a glimpse of, and so that they could interact with the same folks I did, and maybe engage in some lively political discussion. These gun shops are factories for unchecked Tea-Party-style nonsense. It means that a lot of angry and armed folks are spending their days amplifying each other’s misunderstanding and distrust of the rest of us.

And also- (and I realize that this part is just pure paranoia)– I’d like to know that if things ever really degrade, there would be a whole lot of armed liberals out there to keep the armed conservatives in check. Or at the very least, I’d like enough of them to lay down sufficient cover fire for me while I run from Whole Foods back to my Prius.





Why Americans now carry handguns in so many public places, from parks to college campuses. Is it making the country safer or more dangerous?

By Patrik Jonsson, Staff writer / March 11, 2012


Garner, N.C.


Leaning against a scrub pine as preschoolers scurry about at his feet, Shane Gazda, father of 3-year-old twins, recalls a conundrum he faced earlier that morning: whether to take his Smith & Wesson .40 caliber handgun to a Groundhog Day celebration in this town's White Deer Park.

After all, what was once against the law in North Carolina – carrying a concealed gun in a town park, square, or greenway – is now, as of Dec. 1, 2011, very much allowed. To Mr. Gazda, who likes to shoot targets in his backyard, an event as innocent as paying homage to a rodent could turn dangerous if the wrong person shows up.

"Part of it is being ready for cataclysm every day," says Gazda, a hospital maintenance engineer. "And to be honest, I started carrying precisely to protect not just myself, but my family, and anyone around me who needs help."

Gun laws: How much do you know?

In the end, Gazda left the gun at home. But his internal debate is emblematic of one a growing number of Americans are having almost daily. Thirty years after a powerful gun-control movement swept the country, Americans are embracing the idea of owning and carrying firearms with a zeal rarely seen since the days of muskets and militias.

A combination of favorable court rulings, grass-roots activism, traditional fears of crime, and modern anxieties about government has led to what may be a tipping point on an issue that just a few years ago was one of America's most contentious. Gun rights have now expanded to the point where the fundamental question seems not to be "should we be able to carry guns," but instead is "where can't we carry them?"

The answer: not very many places.

The new North Carolina statute, in fact, is one of hundreds of new gun-friendly laws enacted by states and localities in the past few years alone. Mississippi lawmakers, for instance, recently voted to allow gun owners who take an extra safety class to carry hidden weapons on college campuses and in courthouses. Ohio has granted people with permits the right to bring concealed weapons into restaurants, bars, and sports arenas. A 2010 Indiana law stipulates that private business owners let employees keep guns in their cars when parked on company property. And New Hampshire, along with several other states, has removed restrictions on bearing arms in the ultimate politically symbolic place – the State House.

In 2009, three times as many pro-gun laws were passed in the United States as antigun measures – a trend that experts say has only accelerated since then. Fully 40 states now mandate that anyone who asks for a concealed-carry permit and meets the qualifications must be issued one. One result: The number of concealed-weapon license holders in the US has gone from a few hundred thousand 10 years ago to more than 6 million today. In some parts of Tennessee, 1 out of every 11 people on the street is either carrying a weapon or has a license to do so.

"It's a huge sea change, and one lesson to take out of all of this is that it's amazing how fast attitudes on constitutional issues can change," says Glenn Reynolds, a law professor at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, and the author of "An Army of Davids." "The thinking has turned in a way that many thought to be impossible only 15 years ago."

Barry O’Bomber

Posted by Lesley Clark on October 11, 2013

«I thanked President Obama for the United States’ work in supporting education in Pakistan and Afghanistan and for Syrian refugees,» she said in the statement. «I also expressed my concerns that drone attacks are fueling terrorism. Innocent victims are killed in these acts, and they lead to resentment among the Pakistani people. If we refocus efforts on education it will make a big impact.»

Malala Yousafzai, the Pakastani girl who was shot in the head on her school bus by Taliban gunmen for criticizing their rule, including banning education for girls.

Read more here: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2013/10/11/205176/obama-and-first-lady-meet-with.html


The ‘war on terror’ – by design – can never end

In October, the Washington Post’s Greg Miller reported that the administration was instituting a «disposition matrix» to determine how terrorism suspects will be disposed of, all based on this fact: «among senior Obama administration officials, there is broad consensus that such operations are likely to be extended at least another decade.» As Miller puts it: «That timeline suggests that the United States has reached only the midpoint of what was once known as the global war on terrorism.»

The polices adopted by the Obama administration just over the last couple of years leave no doubt that they are accelerating, not winding down, the war apparatus that has been relentlessly strengthened over the last decade. In the name of the War on Terror, the current president has diluted decades-old Miranda warnings; codified a new scheme of indefinite detention on US soil; plotted to relocate Guantanamo to Illinois; increased secrecy, repression and release-restrictions at the camp; minted a new theory of presidential assassination powers even for US citizens; renewed the Bush/Cheney warrantless eavesdropping framework for another five years, as well as the Patriot Act, without a single reform; and just signed into law all new restrictions on the release of indefinitely held detainees.
Does that sound to you like a government anticipating the end of the War on Terror any time soon? Or does it sound like one working feverishly to make their terrorism-justified powers of detention, surveillance, killing and secrecy permanent? About all of this, the ACLU’s Executive Director, Anthony Romero, provided the answer on Thursday: «President Obama has utterly failed the first test of his second term, even before inauguration day. His signature means indefinite detention without charge or trial, as well as the illegal military commissions, will be extended.»
There’s a good reason US officials are assuming the «War on Terror» will persist indefinitely: namely, their actions ensure that this occurs. The New York Times’ Matthew Rosenberg this morning examines what the US government seems to regard as the strange phenomenon of Afghan soldiers attacking US troops with increasing frequency, and in doing so, discovers a shocking reality: people end up disliking those who occupy and bomb their country:


By Jack Goldsmith
Friday, June 8, 2012 at 4:18 PM

President Obama, today, on the possibility of leaks from the White House:

The notion that the White House would purposely release classified national security information is offensive, it’s wrong, and people, I think, need to have a better sense of how I approach this office and how the people around me approach this office . . . . We are dealing with issues that can touch on the safety and security of the American people — our families or our military or our allies — and so we don’t play with that.

This is not a credible statement.

With regard to drones and the Bin Laden attack: It has been obvious for years that senior national security officials, including White House officials, regularly and opportunistically leak details to the press (or urge subordinate agencies to do so). Dan Klaidman’s new book confirms this. In connection with the CIA killing of Baitullah Mehsud in August 2009, Klaidman reports, in direct contradiction of the President:

Though the program was covert, [White House Chief of Staff Rahm] Emanuel pushed the CIA to publicize its covert successes. When Mehsud was killed, agency public affairs officers anonymously trumpeted their triumph, leaking colorful tidbits to trusted reporters on the intelligence beat. (emphasis added)

With regard to “Olympic Games,” the cyber-operation against Iran, the Sanger NYT story is based on “officials involved in the program.” And Sanger’s book from which the story is drawn was based on interviews with “senior administration officials,” including White House officials. The book has quotations from many Obama-era briefings about Olympic Games with the president (including quotations attributed to the president himself). And it contains many intimate details about the program – details that Sanger says “were known only by an extremely tight group of top intelligence, military, and White House officials.” (Some of the early details of Olympic Games appear to be drawn from Bush-era officials.)

It is of course possible, consistent with these points, that the White House did not (as the President guardedly said) “purposely release” classified information about Olympic Games. Journalists have many tricks for building up insider accounts of White House conversations without the participants in those conversations being the original or main or purposeful source. Many elements of the leaks to Sanger (and to Klaidman, and to Becker and Shane) no doubt came from civil servants and political appointees around the government who spoke to reporters, without White House authorization, in order to spin an operation in their favor, to settle a bureaucratic score, or to appear important. The White House may have been involved, if at all, only in correcting inaccuracies or seeking to suppress facts in the Sanger story.

With regard to Olympic Games, in short, I am prepared to believe that President Obama and his White House advisors are genuinely angry about the leak. It is nonetheless remarkable that President’s Obama takes “offense” at the charge that his White House might have leaked Olympic Games. It is perfectly natural, in light of the massive White House (or White House-induced) national security leaks of the last few years, especially on drones, to attribute leaks about Olympic Games to someone in the White House. The President says that the public “need[s] to have a better sense of how I approach this office and how the people around me approach this office,” presumably with regard to classified information. But he has only his administration to blame for the understandable public sense that the White House leaks national security secrets. His failure to understand this is an indication of a White House bubble on the issue.


By Glenn Garvin
ggarvin@MiamiHerald.com

Return with us now to those thrilling days of yesteryear, when from out of the past come the thundering words of a constitutional law professor who promised us he was going to put an end to the callous disregard for the law of that bring-‘em-dead-or-alive cowboy George W. Bush.

“We’re going to close Guantánamo!” shouted Barack Obama to the San Antonio crowd that day in 2007. “And we’re going to restore habeas corpus. . . . We’re going to lead by example, by not just word but by deed.”

The deed, as it has turned out, included not very much habeas but a lot of corpus. Obama’s alternative to sending suspected terrorists to the federal prison at Guantánamo Bay has been to kill them, by the hundreds and perhaps thousands.

The death toll in Pakistan alone, by the count of the New America Foundation, last week stood somewhere between 1,456 and 2,372 since Obama took office.

The vast majority of those killings were done by aptly named Predator drones, which — piloted by remote control from CIA and Pentagon command rooms back in the United States — slowly cruise the skies of the Middle East looking for targets to attack with their even more aptly named Hellfire missiles. (Though former CIA attorney John Rizzo helpfully explained in an interview last week that the Obama White House sometimes likes to keep things old school: “The Predator is the weapon of choice, but it could also be someone putting a bullet in your head.)

Obama has launched over 250 drone attacks during his three years in office, more than six times as many as the lawless yahoo Bush ordered during his entire presidency. And to say Obama launched them is not merely a figure of speech; a lengthy New York Times story last week detailed how the president personally approves the target of every attack at cozy little White House meetings known as Terror Tuesdays.

The president shuffles a stack of biographies and photos that some participants in the meeting compare to baseball trading cards, bringing to bear not only his mighty intellect but his refined moral sensibilities (“a student of writings on war by Augustine and Thomas Aquinas,” the awed New York Times reporters wrote) before deciding who goes onto what’s known, with chilling lack of euphemism, as the “kill list.”

There are actually two separate kill lists, one compiled by the Pentagon and another by the CIA, using different legal criteria, which conveniently allows administration officials to shop around for the best forum in which to get their targets approved. And what are those differing criteria? In fact, just where in the U.S. Constitution or legal code is the authority that allows the president to appoint himself judge, jury and executioner?

Well, nobody knows. The Obama administration has classified all its legal memos and opinions used to justify the killings and has successfully beaten back every attempt to force their disclosure. Curiously, Obama had a very different perspective on the Bush administration’s legal opinions on interrogation techniques that looked a lot like torture: He quickly declassified them, even though six former CIA directors begged him not to.

After two decades as a foreign correspondent, much of it spent covering nations that bore the United States ill will, I’m no utopian when it comes to American self-defense or compliance with international law. There are people out there who mean to do us harm, operating from countries that cannot or will not do anything about them. I didn’t get too weepy about the death of Osama bin Laden, and I’m sure a lot of the people to whom Obama has sent Hellfire greeting cards richly deserved them.

But is this really the world we want, one where murderous drones orbit the skies over a big chunk of the earth, periodically blowing somebody’s head off? Of course we wanted to kill Osama and a few of his top lieutenants. But were there really 2,372 of them?

The answer is unequivocally no. Already the president has moved beyond “targeted strikes” — that is, attacks on specific individuals against whom we have some evidence of terrorist activities — to “signature strikes,” in which we obliterate people who look like they might be terrorists, with heavy emphasis on the might.

The White House policy “in effect counts all military-age males in a strike zone as combatants, according to several administration officials, unless there is explicit intelligence posthumously proving them innocent,” reported The New York Times. And no, it didn’t mention any posthumous CIA techniques for bringing the innocent back to life. I guess Augustine and Thomas Aquinas didn’t cover that.


By: Kevin Gosztola Saturday June 2, 2012 5:24 pm

This morning, Chris Hayes did a segment on his show on MSNBC called “Up with Chris” that examined President Barack Obama’s reported “kill list,” whether the number of civilians being killed by drones is being hidden from the American public and whether the program is, in fact, legal as the Obama administration claims. The segment aired just days after a major story by the New York Times on the “kill list” catapulted US drone policy into the national conversation. It also was one of the few segments that MSNBC aired on the Obama administration’s drone program all week.

Colonel Jack Jacobs, MSNBC military analyst, Hina Shamsi from the ACLU’s National Security Project, Jeremy Scahill of The Nation magazine and Josh Treviño of the Texas Public Policy Foundation appeared on the program for the discussion.

Hayes set up the segment by mentioning that a policy of kill or capture of terror suspects has largely transformed into a policy of just killing the suspects. The issue had been “bubbling a bit” but just this week, Hayes said, it “felt like it really kind of entered the national conversation assertively for the first time this week.”

“Up with Chris” is a progressive show. Many of the viewers carry an expectation—albeit an unreasonable one—that Hayes will not wholly criticize Obama because there is a Republican presidential candidate named Mitt Romney out there trying to defeat Obama in the presidential election. There also are Republicans running to defeat Democrats, voters are being suppressed in states to help Republicans win and discussion of Obama and drones is destructive to the progressive cause. And that is why the segment got under the skin of many liberals and also why it was so critical that Hayes did this segment on his show.

Shamsi made a key point:

We have had a program that was begun under the Bush administration but vastly expanded under the Obama administration and this is a program in which the Executive Branch – the president claims the authority to unilaterally declare people enemies of the state including US citizens and order their killing based on secret legal criteria, secret process and secret evidence. There is no national security policy that poses a graver threat to human rights law and civil liberties than this policy today.

Scahill explained how Obama has been “out-Cheneying Cheney” by “running an assassination program where in a two week span in Yemen he killed three US citizens, none of whom had been charged or indicted or charged with any crime.” Two of the victims, Samir Khan and Abdulrahman Al-Awlaki, were clearly innocent. The FBI told Khan’s family that his speech—the propaganda he was writing and his work as editor of the magazine of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), Inspire, was protected First Amendment speech and he had broken no US laws. In the case of Awlaki, a 16-year-old US citizen “whose only crime appears to be that his last name was Awlaki, he was “murdered in a US strike.” No explanation, Scahill said, has been given as to why he was killed.

“There is no indication that any suspected militants were killed. There is no indication that any known al Qaeda figures were killed. That family deserves an explanation. The American people deserve an explanation.” Scahill continued: “”People talked about Cheney running an executive assassination ring. What’s President Obama’s policy? This would have sparked outrage among liberals and they are deafeningly silent on this issue.”

Then, Hayes had Scahill address what really upset liberals the most: the fact that Scahill would say with a straight face Obama was a murderer for killing innocent people with drone strikes.

Scahill stated “the most dangerous thing” the US is doing “besides murdering innocent people in many cases is giving people in Yemen or Somalia or Pakistan a non-ideological reason to hate the United States, to want to fight the United States.” Hayes told Scahill calling it murder is a “provocative” way of describing what is happening and he wanted Scahill to defend using the word murder.

HAYES: Jeremy, you used the word “murder” before when you talked about the people who have killed by these strikes who are not combatants we can establish? And obviously that’s al oaded word because it carries certain legal and moral ramifications. Why do you use that word?

SCAHILL: If someone goes into a shopping mall in pursuit of one of their enemies and opens fire on a crowd of people and guns down a bunch of innocent people in a shopping mall, they’ve murdered those people. When the Obama administration sets a policy where patterns of life are enough of a green light to drop missiles on people or to use to send in AC-130s to spray them down —

JACOBS: That isn’t the case here (cross-talk)

SCAHILL: If you go to the village of al Majala in Yemen where I was and you see the unexploded cluster bombs and you have the list and photographic evidence as I do of the women and children that represented the vast majority of the deaths in this first strike that Obama authorized on Yemen, those people were murdered by President Obama on his orders because there was believed to be someone from al Qaeda in that area. There’s only one person that’s been identified that had any connection to al Qaeda there and twenty-one women and fourteen children were killed in that strike and the US tried to cover it up and say it was a Yemeni strike and we know from the WikiLeaks that David Petraeus conspired with the president of Yemen to lie to the world about who did that bombing. It’s murder. It’s mass murder when you say we are going to bomb this area because we believe a terrorist there and you know women and children are in the area. The United States has an obligation to not bomb that area if they believe women and children are there.

Trevino responded to Scahill by raising a historical example of US armed forces killing French civilians during World War II. He argued that America knew there were innocent people where they were bombing and then essentially asked if the people who carried out those attacks were murderers. Scahill said yes, which led Trevino to suggest that people should be arguing Dwight D. Eisenhower should have been prosecuted. It was a poor strawman that Trevino tried to construct to get Scahill to back down from arguing that the US government has killed people it has known to be innocent and this should not have happened.

From this point, Scahill and Trevino went back and forth with each other throughout the rest of the segment. Trevino contended there was a long history of dealing with Americans who have decided to make war on the United States and that it was not reasonable to expect Lincoln to have handled the Confederacy in the way that people are suggesting Obama should handle US-born terror suspects. Trevino said Obama is “part of a continuum.” That was not something of which Scahill disagreed.

“We have a dictatorship of the Executive Branch of government when it comes to foreign policy,” said Scahill.

Later in the show, Trevino attempted to shut down a lot of what had been said by Shamsi on the legal issues posed by the drone program and what Scahill had said about Obama murdering people. He argued, “Part of the reason there isn’t an outcry over this is that the American people really are getting the policy that they want. It’s not that controversial.”

Scahill rightfully replied in agreement, “Obama has normalized assassination for a lot of liberals who would have been outraged if it was President McCain.” The nation has developed a “bloodthirst.” Citizens now “treat targeted killings like sporting events and dance in the streets” (e.g. what happened when Osama bin Laden was assassinated).


From statements made in February by the families of victims and survivors of a March 17, 2011, drone attack in the village of Datta Khel in the Pakistani region of North Waziristan. The statements were collected by the British human rights group Reprieve and were included in their lawsuit challenging the legal right of the British government to aid the United States in its drone campaign. More than half of all deaths from U.S. drone attacks in Pakistan have occurred in North Waziristan. Translated from the Pashto.

I am approximately forty-six years old, though I do not know the exact date of my birth. I am a malice of my tribe, meaning that I am a man of responsibility among my people. One of my brother’s sons, Din Mohammed, whom I was very fond of, was killed by a drone missile on March 17, 2011. He was one of about forty people who died in this strike. Din Mohammed was twenty-five years old when he died. These men were gathered together for a jirga, a gathering of tribal elders to solve disputes. This particular jirga was to solve a disagreement over chromite, a mineral mined in Waziristan. My nephew was attending the jirga because he was involved in the transport and sale of this mineral. My brother, Din Mohammed’s father, arrived at the scene of the strike shortly following the attack. He saw death all around him, and then he found his own son. My brother had to bring his son back home in pieces. That was all that remained of Din Mohammed.

I saw my father about three hours before the drone strike killed him. News of the strike didn’t reach me until later, and I arrived at the location in the evening. When I got off the bus near the bazaar, I immediately saw flames in and around the station. The fires burned for two days straight. I went to where the jirga had been held. There were still people lying around injured. The tribal elders who had been killed could not be identified because there were body parts strewn about. The smell was awful. I just collected the pieces of flesh that I believed belonged to my father and placed them in a small coffin.

The sudden loss of so many elders and leaders in my community has had a tremendous impact. Everyone is now afraid to gather together to hold jirgas and solve our problems. Even if we want to come together to protest the illegal drone strikes, we fear that meeting to discuss how to peacefully protest will put us at risk of being killed by drones.

The first time I saw a drone in the sky was about eight years ago, when I was thirteen. I have counted six or seven drone strikes in my village since the beginning of 2012. There were sixty or seventy primary schools in and around my village, but only a few remain today. Few children attend school because they fear for their lives walking to and from their homes. I am mostly illiterate. I stopped going to school because we were all very afraid that we would be killed. I am twenty-one years old. My time has passed. I cannot learn how to read or write so that I can better my life. But I very much wish my children to grow up without these killer drones hovering above, so that they may get the education and life I was denied.

The men who died in this strike were our leaders; the ones we turned to for all forms of support. We always knew that drone strikes were wrong, that they encroached on Pakistan’s sovereign territory. We knew that innocent civilians had been killed. However, we did not realize how callous and cruel it could be. The community is now plagued with fear. The tribal elders are afraid to gather together in jirgas, as had been our custom for more than a century. The mothers and wives plead with the men not to congregate together. They do not want to lose any more of their husbands, sons, brothers, and nephews. People in the same family now sleep apart because they do not want their togetherness to be viewed suspiciously through the eye of the drone. They do not want to become the next target.


By Medea Benjamin, CODEPINK | Op-Ed 

On May 29, The New York Times published an extraordinarily in-depth look at the intimate role President Obama has played in authorizing US drone attacks overseas, particularly in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. It is chilling to read the cold, macabre ease with which the President and his staff decide who will live or die. The fate of people living thousands of miles away is decided by a group of Americans, elected and unelected, who don’t speak their language, don’t know their culture, don’t understand their motives or values. While purporting to represent the world’s greatest democracy, US leaders are putting people on a hit list who are as young as 17, people who are given no chance to surrender, and certainly no chance to be tried in a court of law.

Who is furnishing the President and his aides with this list of terrorist suspects to choose from, like baseball cards? The kind of intelligence used to put people on drone hit lists is the same kind of intelligence that put people in Guantanamo. Remember how the American public was assured that the prisoners locked up in Guantanamo were the «worst of the worst,» only to find out that hundreds were innocent people who had been sold to the US military by bounty hunters?

Why should the public believe what the Obama administration says about the people being assassinated by drones? Especially since, as we learn in the New York Times, the administration came up with a semantic solution to keep the civilian death toll to a minimum: simply count all military-age males in a strike zone as combatants. The rationale, reminiscent of George Zimmerman’s justification for shooting Trayvon Martin, is that «people in an area of known terrorist activity, or found with a top Qaeda operative, are probably up to no good.» Talk about profiling! At least when George Bush threw suspected militants into Guantanamo their lives were spared.

Referring to the killing of Anwar al-Awlaki, the article reveals that for Obama, even ordering an American citizen to be assassinated by drone was «easy.» Not so easy was twisting the Constitution to assert that while the Fifth Amendment’s guarantees American citizens due process, this can simply consist of «internal deliberations in the executive branch.» No need for the irksome interference of checks and balances.

Al-Awlaki might have been guilty of defecting to the enemy, but the Constitution requires that even traitors be convicted on the «testimony of two witnesses» or a «confession in open court,» not the say-so of the executive branch.

In addition to hit lists, Obama has granted the CIA the authority to kill with even greater ease using «signature strikes,» i.e. strikes based solely on suspicious behavior. The article reports State Department officials complained that the CIA’s criteria for identifying a terrorist «signature» were too lax. «The joke was that when the C.I.A. sees ‘three guys doing jumping jacks,’ the agency thinks it is a terrorist training camp, said one senior official. Men loading a truck with fertilizer could be bombmakers — but they might also be farmers, skeptics argued.»

Obama’s top legal adviser Harold Koh insists that this killing spree is legal under international law because the US has the inherent right to self-defense. It’s true that all nations possess the right to defend themselves, but the defense must be against an imminent attack that is overwhelming and leaves no moment of deliberation. When a nation is not in an armed conflict, the rules are even stricter. The killing must be necessary to protect life and there must be no other means, such as capture or nonlethal incapacitation, to prevent that threat to life. Outside of an active war zone, then, it is illegal to use weaponized drones, which are weapons of war incapable of taking a suspect alive.

Just think of the precedent the US is setting with its kill-don’t-capture doctrine. Were the US rationale to be applied by other countries, China might declare an ethnic Uighur activist living in New York City as an «enemy combatant» and send a missile into Manhattan; Russia could assert that it was legal to launch a drone attack against someone living in London whom they claim is linked to Chechen militants. Or consider the case of Luis Posada Carrilles, a Cuban-American living in Miami who is a known terrorist convicted of masterminding a 1976 bombing of a Cuban airliner that killed 73 people. Given the failure of the US legal system to bring Posada to justice, the Cuban government could claim that it has the right to send a drone into downtown Miami to kill an admitted terrorist and sworn enemy.

Dennis Blair, former director of national intelligence, called the drone strike campaign «dangerously seductive» because it was low cost, entailed no casualties and gives the appearance of toughness. «It plays well domestically,» he said, «and it is unpopular only in other countries. Any damage it does to the national interest only shows up over the long term.»

But an article in the Washington Post the following day, May 30, entitled «Drone strikes spur backlash in Yemen,» shows that the damage is not just long term but immediate. After interviewing more than 20 tribal leaders, victims’ relatives, human rights activists and officials from southern Yemen, journalist Sudarsan Raghavan concluded that the escalating U.S. strikes are radicalizing the local population and stirring increasing sympathy for al-Qaeda-linked militants. «The drones are killing al-Qaeda leaders,» said legal coordinator of a local human rights group Mohammed al-Ahmadi, «but they are also turning them into heroes.»

Even the New York Times article acknowledges that Pakistan and Yemen are less stable and more hostile to the United States since Mr. Obama became president, that drones have become a provocative symbol of American power running roughshod over national sovereignty and killing innocents.

One frightening aspect of the Times piece is what it says about the American public. After all, this is an election-time piece about Obama’s leadership style, told from the point of view of mostly Obama insiders bragging about how the president is no shrinking violent when it comes to killing. Implicit is the notion that Americans like tough leaders who don’t agonize over civilian deaths—over there, of course.

Shahzad Akbar, a Pakistani lawyer suing the CIA on behalf of drone victims, thinks its time for the American people to speak out. «Can you trust a program that has existed for eight years, picks its targets in secret, faces zero accountability and has killed almost 3,000 people in Pakistan alone whose identities are not known to their killers?,» he asks. «When women and children in Waziristan are killed with Hellfire missiles, Pakistanis believe this is what the American people want. I would like to ask Americans, ‘Do you?'»


Obama At Large: Where Are The Lawyers?

By Ralph Nader

The rule of law is rapidly breaking down at the top levels of our government. As officers of the court, we have sworn to “support the Constitution,” which clearly implies an affirmative commitment on our part.

Take the administrations of George W. Bush and Barack Obama. The conservative American Bar Association sent three white papers to President Bush describing his continual unconstitutional policies. Then and now civil liberties groups and a few law professors, such as the stalwart David Cole of Georgetown University and Jonathan Turley of George Washington University, have distinguished themselves in calling out both presidents for such violations and the necessity for enforcing the rule of law.

Sadly, the bulk of our profession, as individuals and through their bar associations, has remained quietly on the sidelines. They have turned away from their role as “first-responders” to protect the Constitution from its official violators.

As a youngster in Hawaii, basketball player Barack Obama was nicknamed by his schoolboy chums as “Barry O’Bomber,” according to the Washington Post. Tuesday’s (May 29) New York Times published a massive page-one feature article by Jo Becker and Scott Shane, that demonstrated just how inadvertently prescient was this moniker. This was not an adversarial, leaked newspaper scoop. The article had all the signs of cooperation by the three dozen, interviewed current and former advisers to President Obama and his administration. The reporters wrote that a weekly role of the president is to personally select and order a “kill list” of suspected terrorists or militants via drone strikes or other means. The reporters wrote that this personal role of Obama’s is “without precedent in presidential history.” Adversaries are pulling him into more and more countries – Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and other territories.

The drones have killed civilians, families with small children, and even allied soldiers in this undeclared war based on secret “facts” and grudges (getting even). These attacks are justified by secret legal memos claiming that the president, without any Congressional authorization, can without any limitations other that his say-so, target far and wide assassinations of any “suspected terrorist,” including American citizens.

The bombings by Mr. Obama, as secret prosecutor, judge, jury and executioner, trample proper constitutional authority, separation of powers, and checks and balances and constitute repeated impeachable offenses. That is, if a pathetic Congress ever decided to uphold its constitutional responsibility, including and beyond Article I, section 8’s war-declaring powers.

As if lawyers needed any reminding, the Constitution is the foundation of our legal system and is based on declared, open boundaries of permissible government actions. That is what a government of law, not of men, means. Further our system is clearly demarked by independent review of executive branch decisions – by our courts and Congress.

What happens if Congress becomes, in constitutional lawyer Bruce Fein’s words, “an ink blot,” and the courts beg off with their wholesale dismissals of Constitutional matters based on claims and issue involves a “political question” or that parties have “no-standing-to-sue.” What happens is what is happening. The situation worsens every year, deepening dictatorial secretive decisions by the White House, and not just regarding foreign and military policies.

The value of The New York Times article is that it added ascribed commentary on what was reported. Here is a sample:

– The U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan, Cameron P. Munter, quoted by a colleague as complaining about the CIA’s strikes driving American policy commenting that he: “didn’t realize his main job was to kill people.” Imagine what the sidelined Foreign Service is thinking about greater longer-range risks to our national security.

– Dennis Blair, former Director of National Intelligence, calls the strike campaign “dangerously seductive.” He said that Obama’s obsession with targeted killings is “the politically advantageous thing to do — low cost, no US casualties, gives the appearance of toughness. It plays well domestically, and it is unpopular only in other countries. Any damage it does to the national interest only shows up over the long term.” Blair, a retired admiral, has often noted that intense focus on strikes sidelines any long-term strategy against al-Qaeda which spreads wider with each drone that vaporizes civilians.

– Former CIA director Michael Hayden decries the secrecy: “This program rests on the personal legitimacy of the president and that’s not sustainable,” he told the Times. “Democracies do not make war on the basis of legal memos locked in a D.O.J. [Department of Justice] safe.”

Consider this: an allegedly liberal former constitutional law lecturer is being cautioned about blowback, the erosion of democracy and the national security by former heads of super-secret spy agencies!

Secrecy-driven violence in government breeds fear and surrender of conscience. When Mr. Obama was campaigning for president in 2007, he was reviled by Hillary Clinton, Joseph Biden Jr. and Mitt Romney – then presidential candidates – for declaring that even if Pakistan leaders objected, he would go after terrorist bases in Pakistan. Romney said he had “become Dr. Strangelove,” according to the Times. Today all three of candidate Obama’s critics have decided to go along with egregious violations of our Constitution.

The Times made the telling point that Obama’s orders now “can target suspects in Yemen whose names they do not know.” Such is the drift to one-man rule, consuming so much of his time in this way at the expense of addressing hundreds of thousands of preventable fatalities yearly here in the U.S. from occupational disease, environmental pollution, hospital infections and other documented dangerous conditions.

Based on deep reporting, Becker and Shane allowed that “both Pakistan and Yemen are arguably less stable and more hostile to the United States than when Obama became president.”

In a world of lawlessness, force will beget force, which is what the CIA means by “blowback.” Our country has the most to lose when we abandon the rule of law and embrace lawless violence that is banking future revenge throughout the world.

The people in the countries we target know what we must remember. We are their occupiers, their invaders, the powerful supporters for decades of their own brutal tyrants. We’re in their backyard, which more than any other impetus spawned al-Qaeda in the first place.

So lawyers of America, apart from a few stalwarts among you, what is your breaking point? When will you uphold your oath of office and work to restore constitutional authorities and boundaries?

Someday, people will ask – where were the lawyers?


Posted by Lesley Clark on October 11, 2013

"I thanked President Obama for the United States' work in supporting education in Pakistan and Afghanistan and for Syrian refugees," she said in the statement. "I also expressed my concerns that drone attacks are fueling terrorism. Innocent victims are killed in these acts, and they lead to resentment among the Pakistani people. If we refocus efforts on education it will make a big impact."

Malala Yousafzai, the Pakastani girl who was shot in the head on her school bus by Taliban gunmen for criticizing their rule, including banning education for girls.

Read more here: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2013/10/11/205176/obama-and-first-lady-meet-with.html





The 'war on terror' - by design - can never end


In October, the Washington Post's Greg Miller reported that the administration was instituting a "disposition matrix" to determine how terrorism suspects will be disposed of, all based on this fact: "among senior Obama administration officials, there is broad consensus that such operations are likely to be extended at least another decade." As Miller puts it: "That timeline suggests that the United States has reached only the midpoint of what was once known as the global war on terrorism."


The polices adopted by the Obama administration just over the last couple of years leave no doubt that they are accelerating, not winding down, the war apparatus that has been relentlessly strengthened over the last decade. In the name of the War on Terror, the current president has diluted decades-old Miranda warnings; codified a new scheme of indefinite detention on US soil; plotted to relocate Guantanamo to Illinois; increased secrecy, repression and release-restrictions at the camp; minted a new theory of presidential assassination powers even for US citizens; renewed the Bush/Cheney warrantless eavesdropping framework for another five years, as well as the Patriot Act, without a single reform; and just signed into law all new restrictions on the release of indefinitely held detainees.
Does that sound to you like a government anticipating the end of the War on Terror any time soon? Or does it sound like one working feverishly to make their terrorism-justified powers of detention, surveillance, killing and secrecy permanent? About all of this, the ACLU's Executive Director, Anthony Romero, provided the answer on Thursday: "President Obama has utterly failed the first test of his second term, even before inauguration day. His signature means indefinite detention without charge or trial, as well as the illegal military commissions, will be extended."
There's a good reason US officials are assuming the "War on Terror" will persist indefinitely: namely, their actions ensure that this occurs. The New York Times' Matthew Rosenberg this morning examines what the US government seems to regard as the strange phenomenon of Afghan soldiers attacking US troops with increasing frequency, and in doing so, discovers a shocking reality: people end up disliking those who occupy and bomb their country:



By Jack Goldsmith
Friday, June 8, 2012 at 4:18 PM

President Obama, today, on the possibility of leaks from the White House:

The notion that the White House would purposely release classified national security information is offensive, it’s wrong, and people, I think, need to have a better sense of how I approach this office and how the people around me approach this office . . . . We are dealing with issues that can touch on the safety and security of the American people — our families or our military or our allies — and so we don’t play with that.

This is not a credible statement.

With regard to drones and the Bin Laden attack: It has been obvious for years that senior national security officials, including White House officials, regularly and opportunistically leak details to the press (or urge subordinate agencies to do so). Dan Klaidman’s new book confirms this. In connection with the CIA killing of Baitullah Mehsud in August 2009, Klaidman reports, in direct contradiction of the President:

Though the program was covert, [White House Chief of Staff Rahm] Emanuel pushed the CIA to publicize its covert successes. When Mehsud was killed, agency public affairs officers anonymously trumpeted their triumph, leaking colorful tidbits to trusted reporters on the intelligence beat. (emphasis added)

With regard to “Olympic Games,” the cyber-operation against Iran, the Sanger NYT story is based on “officials involved in the program.” And Sanger’s book from which the story is drawn was based on interviews with “senior administration officials,” including White House officials. The book has quotations from many Obama-era briefings about Olympic Games with the president (including quotations attributed to the president himself). And it contains many intimate details about the program – details that Sanger says “were known only by an extremely tight group of top intelligence, military, and White House officials.” (Some of the early details of Olympic Games appear to be drawn from Bush-era officials.)

It is of course possible, consistent with these points, that the White House did not (as the President guardedly said) “purposely release” classified information about Olympic Games. Journalists have many tricks for building up insider accounts of White House conversations without the participants in those conversations being the original or main or purposeful source. Many elements of the leaks to Sanger (and to Klaidman, and to Becker and Shane) no doubt came from civil servants and political appointees around the government who spoke to reporters, without White House authorization, in order to spin an operation in their favor, to settle a bureaucratic score, or to appear important. The White House may have been involved, if at all, only in correcting inaccuracies or seeking to suppress facts in the Sanger story.

With regard to Olympic Games, in short, I am prepared to believe that President Obama and his White House advisors are genuinely angry about the leak. It is nonetheless remarkable that President’s Obama takes “offense” at the charge that his White House might have leaked Olympic Games. It is perfectly natural, in light of the massive White House (or White House-induced) national security leaks of the last few years, especially on drones, to attribute leaks about Olympic Games to someone in the White House. The President says that the public “need[s] to have a better sense of how I approach this office and how the people around me approach this office,” presumably with regard to classified information. But he has only his administration to blame for the understandable public sense that the White House leaks national security secrets. His failure to understand this is an indication of a White House bubble on the issue.



By Glenn Garvin
ggarvin@MiamiHerald.com

Return with us now to those thrilling days of yesteryear, when from out of the past come the thundering words of a constitutional law professor who promised us he was going to put an end to the callous disregard for the law of that bring-‘em-dead-or-alive cowboy George W. Bush.

“We’re going to close Guantánamo!” shouted Barack Obama to the San Antonio crowd that day in 2007. “And we’re going to restore habeas corpus. .?.?. We’re going to lead by example, by not just word but by deed.”

The deed, as it has turned out, included not very much habeas but a lot of corpus. Obama’s alternative to sending suspected terrorists to the federal prison at Guantánamo Bay has been to kill them, by the hundreds and perhaps thousands.

The death toll in Pakistan alone, by the count of the New America Foundation, last week stood somewhere between 1,456 and 2,372 since Obama took office.

The vast majority of those killings were done by aptly named Predator drones, which — piloted by remote control from CIA and Pentagon command rooms back in the United States — slowly cruise the skies of the Middle East looking for targets to attack with their even more aptly named Hellfire missiles. (Though former CIA attorney John Rizzo helpfully explained in an interview last week that the Obama White House sometimes likes to keep things old school: “The Predator is the weapon of choice, but it could also be someone putting a bullet in your head.)

Obama has launched over 250 drone attacks during his three years in office, more than six times as many as the lawless yahoo Bush ordered during his entire presidency. And to say Obama launched them is not merely a figure of speech; a lengthy New York Times story last week detailed how the president personally approves the target of every attack at cozy little White House meetings known as Terror Tuesdays.

The president shuffles a stack of biographies and photos that some participants in the meeting compare to baseball trading cards, bringing to bear not only his mighty intellect but his refined moral sensibilities (“a student of writings on war by Augustine and Thomas Aquinas,” the awed New York Times reporters wrote) before deciding who goes onto what’s known, with chilling lack of euphemism, as the “kill list.”

There are actually two separate kill lists, one compiled by the Pentagon and another by the CIA, using different legal criteria, which conveniently allows administration officials to shop around for the best forum in which to get their targets approved. And what are those differing criteria? In fact, just where in the U.S. Constitution or legal code is the authority that allows the president to appoint himself judge, jury and executioner?

Well, nobody knows. The Obama administration has classified all its legal memos and opinions used to justify the killings and has successfully beaten back every attempt to force their disclosure. Curiously, Obama had a very different perspective on the Bush administration’s legal opinions on interrogation techniques that looked a lot like torture: He quickly declassified them, even though six former CIA directors begged him not to.

After two decades as a foreign correspondent, much of it spent covering nations that bore the United States ill will, I’m no utopian when it comes to American self-defense or compliance with international law. There are people out there who mean to do us harm, operating from countries that cannot or will not do anything about them. I didn’t get too weepy about the death of Osama bin Laden, and I’m sure a lot of the people to whom Obama has sent Hellfire greeting cards richly deserved them.

But is this really the world we want, one where murderous drones orbit the skies over a big chunk of the earth, periodically blowing somebody’s head off? Of course we wanted to kill Osama and a few of his top lieutenants. But were there really 2,372 of them?

The answer is unequivocally no. Already the president has moved beyond “targeted strikes” — that is, attacks on specific individuals against whom we have some evidence of terrorist activities — to “signature strikes,” in which we obliterate people who look like they might be terrorists, with heavy emphasis on the might.

The White House policy “in effect counts all military-age males in a strike zone as combatants, according to several administration officials, unless there is explicit intelligence posthumously proving them innocent,” reported The New York Times. And no, it didn’t mention any posthumous CIA techniques for bringing the innocent back to life. I guess Augustine and Thomas Aquinas didn’t cover that.



By: Kevin Gosztola Saturday June 2, 2012 5:24 pm


This morning, Chris Hayes did a segment on his show on MSNBC called “Up with Chris” that examined President Barack Obama’s reported “kill list,” whether the number of civilians being killed by drones is being hidden from the American public and whether the program is, in fact, legal as the Obama administration claims. The segment aired just days after a major story by the New York Times on the “kill list” catapulted US drone policy into the national conversation. It also was one of the few segments that MSNBC aired on the Obama administration’s drone program all week.

Colonel Jack Jacobs, MSNBC military analyst, Hina Shamsi from the ACLU’s National Security Project, Jeremy Scahill of The Nation magazine and Josh Treviño of the Texas Public Policy Foundation appeared on the program for the discussion.

Hayes set up the segment by mentioning that a policy of kill or capture of terror suspects has largely transformed into a policy of just killing the suspects. The issue had been “bubbling a bit” but just this week, Hayes said, it “felt like it really kind of entered the national conversation assertively for the first time this week.”

“Up with Chris” is a progressive show. Many of the viewers carry an expectation—albeit an unreasonable one—that Hayes will not wholly criticize Obama because there is a Republican presidential candidate named Mitt Romney out there trying to defeat Obama in the presidential election. There also are Republicans running to defeat Democrats, voters are being suppressed in states to help Republicans win and discussion of Obama and drones is destructive to the progressive cause. And that is why the segment got under the skin of many liberals and also why it was so critical that Hayes did this segment on his show.

Shamsi made a key point:

We have had a program that was begun under the Bush administration but vastly expanded under the Obama administration and this is a program in which the Executive Branch – the president claims the authority to unilaterally declare people enemies of the state including US citizens and order their killing based on secret legal criteria, secret process and secret evidence. There is no national security policy that poses a graver threat to human rights law and civil liberties than this policy today.

Scahill explained how Obama has been “out-Cheneying Cheney” by “running an assassination program where in a two week span in Yemen he killed three US citizens, none of whom had been charged or indicted or charged with any crime.” Two of the victims, Samir Khan and Abdulrahman Al-Awlaki, were clearly innocent. The FBI told Khan’s family that his speech—the propaganda he was writing and his work as editor of the magazine of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), Inspire, was protected First Amendment speech and he had broken no US laws. In the case of Awlaki, a 16-year-old US citizen “whose only crime appears to be that his last name was Awlaki, he was “murdered in a US strike.” No explanation, Scahill said, has been given as to why he was killed.

“There is no indication that any suspected militants were killed. There is no indication that any known al Qaeda figures were killed. That family deserves an explanation. The American people deserve an explanation.” Scahill continued: “”People talked about Cheney running an executive assassination ring. What’s President Obama’s policy? This would have sparked outrage among liberals and they are deafeningly silent on this issue.”

Then, Hayes had Scahill address what really upset liberals the most: the fact that Scahill would say with a straight face Obama was a murderer for killing innocent people with drone strikes.

Scahill stated “the most dangerous thing” the US is doing “besides murdering innocent people in many cases is giving people in Yemen or Somalia or Pakistan a non-ideological reason to hate the United States, to want to fight the United States.” Hayes told Scahill calling it murder is a “provocative” way of describing what is happening and he wanted Scahill to defend using the word murder.

HAYES: Jeremy, you used the word “murder” before when you talked about the people who have killed by these strikes who are not combatants we can establish? And obviously that’s al oaded word because it carries certain legal and moral ramifications. Why do you use that word?

SCAHILL: If someone goes into a shopping mall in pursuit of one of their enemies and opens fire on a crowd of people and guns down a bunch of innocent people in a shopping mall, they’ve murdered those people. When the Obama administration sets a policy where patterns of life are enough of a green light to drop missiles on people or to use to send in AC-130s to spray them down —

JACOBS: That isn’t the case here (cross-talk)

SCAHILL: If you go to the village of al Majala in Yemen where I was and you see the unexploded cluster bombs and you have the list and photographic evidence as I do of the women and children that represented the vast majority of the deaths in this first strike that Obama authorized on Yemen, those people were murdered by President Obama on his orders because there was believed to be someone from al Qaeda in that area. There’s only one person that’s been identified that had any connection to al Qaeda there and twenty-one women and fourteen children were killed in that strike and the US tried to cover it up and say it was a Yemeni strike and we know from the WikiLeaks that David Petraeus conspired with the president of Yemen to lie to the world about who did that bombing. It’s murder. It’s mass murder when you say we are going to bomb this area because we believe a terrorist there and you know women and children are in the area. The United States has an obligation to not bomb that area if they believe women and children are there.

Trevino responded to Scahill by raising a historical example of US armed forces killing French civilians during World War II. He argued that America knew there were innocent people where they were bombing and then essentially asked if the people who carried out those attacks were murderers. Scahill said yes, which led Trevino to suggest that people should be arguing Dwight D. Eisenhower should have been prosecuted. It was a poor strawman that Trevino tried to construct to get Scahill to back down from arguing that the US government has killed people it has known to be innocent and this should not have happened.

From this point, Scahill and Trevino went back and forth with each other throughout the rest of the segment. Trevino contended there was a long history of dealing with Americans who have decided to make war on the United States and that it was not reasonable to expect Lincoln to have handled the Confederacy in the way that people are suggesting Obama should handle US-born terror suspects. Trevino said Obama is “part of a continuum.” That was not something of which Scahill disagreed.

“We have a dictatorship of the Executive Branch of government when it comes to foreign policy,” said Scahill.

Later in the show, Trevino attempted to shut down a lot of what had been said by Shamsi on the legal issues posed by the drone program and what Scahill had said about Obama murdering people. He argued, “Part of the reason there isn’t an outcry over this is that the American people really are getting the policy that they want. It’s not that controversial.”

Scahill rightfully replied in agreement, “Obama has normalized assassination for a lot of liberals who would have been outraged if it was President McCain.” The nation has developed a “bloodthirst.” Citizens now “treat targeted killings like sporting events and dance in the streets” (e.g. what happened when Osama bin Laden was assassinated).

From statements made in February by the families of victims and survivors of a March 17, 2011, drone attack in the village of Datta Khel in the Pakistani region of North Waziristan. The statements were collected by the British human rights group Reprieve and were included in their lawsuit challenging the legal right of the British government to aid the United States in its drone campaign. More than half of all deaths from U.S. drone attacks in Pakistan have occurred in North Waziristan. Translated from the Pashto.

I am approximately forty-six years old, though I do not know the exact date of my birth. I am a malice of my tribe, meaning that I am a man of responsibility among my people. One of my brother’s sons, Din Mohammed, whom I was very fond of, was killed by a drone missile on March 17, 2011. He was one of about forty people who died in this strike. Din Mohammed was twenty-five years old when he died. These men were gathered together for a jirga, a gathering of tribal elders to solve disputes. This particular jirga was to solve a disagreement over chromite, a mineral mined in Waziristan. My nephew was attending the jirga because he was involved in the transport and sale of this mineral. My brother, Din Mohammed’s father, arrived at the scene of the strike shortly following the attack. He saw death all around him, and then he found his own son. My brother had to bring his son back home in pieces. That was all that remained of Din Mohammed.

I saw my father about three hours before the drone strike killed him. News of the strike didn’t reach me until later, and I arrived at the location in the evening. When I got off the bus near the bazaar, I immediately saw flames in and around the station. The fires burned for two days straight. I went to where the jirga had been held. There were still people lying around injured. The tribal elders who had been killed could not be identified because there were body parts strewn about. The smell was awful. I just collected the pieces of flesh that I believed belonged to my father and placed them in a small coffin.

The sudden loss of so many elders and leaders in my community has had a tremendous impact. Everyone is now afraid to gather together to hold jirgas and solve our problems. Even if we want to come together to protest the illegal drone strikes, we fear that meeting to discuss how to peacefully protest will put us at risk of being killed by drones.

The first time I saw a drone in the sky was about eight years ago, when I was thirteen. I have counted six or seven drone strikes in my village since the beginning of 2012. There were sixty or seventy primary schools in and around my village, but only a few remain today. Few children attend school because they fear for their lives walking to and from their homes. I am mostly illiterate. I stopped going to school because we were all very afraid that we would be killed. I am twenty-one years old. My time has passed. I cannot learn how to read or write so that I can better my life. But I very much wish my children to grow up without these killer drones hovering above, so that they may get the education and life I was denied.

The men who died in this strike were our leaders; the ones we turned to for all forms of support. We always knew that drone strikes were wrong, that they encroached on Pakistan’s sovereign territory. We knew that innocent civilians had been killed. However, we did not realize how callous and cruel it could be. The community is now plagued with fear. The tribal elders are afraid to gather together in jirgas, as had been our custom for more than a century. The mothers and wives plead with the men not to congregate together. They do not want to lose any more of their husbands, sons, brothers, and nephews. People in the same family now sleep apart because they do not want their togetherness to be viewed suspiciously through the eye of the drone. They do not want to become the next target.



By Medea Benjamin, CODEPINK | Op-Ed 

On May 29, The New York Times published an extraordinarily in-depth look at the intimate role President Obama has played in authorizing US drone attacks overseas, particularly in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. It is chilling to read the cold, macabre ease with which the President and his staff decide who will live or die. The fate of people living thousands of miles away is decided by a group of Americans, elected and unelected, who don't speak their language, don't know their culture, don't understand their motives or values. While purporting to represent the world's greatest democracy, US leaders are putting people on a hit list who are as young as 17, people who are given no chance to surrender, and certainly no chance to be tried in a court of law.

Who is furnishing the President and his aides with this list of terrorist suspects to choose from, like baseball cards? The kind of intelligence used to put people on drone hit lists is the same kind of intelligence that put people in Guantanamo. Remember how the American public was assured that the prisoners locked up in Guantanamo were the "worst of the worst," only to find out that hundreds were innocent people who had been sold to the US military by bounty hunters?

Why should the public believe what the Obama administration says about the people being assassinated by drones? Especially since, as we learn in the New York Times, the administration came up with a semantic solution to keep the civilian death toll to a minimum: simply count all military-age males in a strike zone as combatants. The rationale, reminiscent of George Zimmerman's justification for shooting Trayvon Martin, is that "people in an area of known terrorist activity, or found with a top Qaeda operative, are probably up to no good." Talk about profiling! At least when George Bush threw suspected militants into Guantanamo their lives were spared.

Referring to the killing of Anwar al-Awlaki, the article reveals that for Obama, even ordering an American citizen to be assassinated by drone was "easy." Not so easy was twisting the Constitution to assert that while the Fifth Amendment's guarantees American citizens due process, this can simply consist of "internal deliberations in the executive branch." No need for the irksome interference of checks and balances.

Al-Awlaki might have been guilty of defecting to the enemy, but the Constitution requires that even traitors be convicted on the "testimony of two witnesses" or a "confession in open court," not the say-so of the executive branch.

In addition to hit lists, Obama has granted the CIA the authority to kill with even greater ease using "signature strikes," i.e. strikes based solely on suspicious behavior. The article reports State Department officials complained that the CIA's criteria for identifying a terrorist "signature" were too lax. "The joke was that when the C.I.A. sees 'three guys doing jumping jacks,' the agency thinks it is a terrorist training camp, said one senior official. Men loading a truck with fertilizer could be bombmakers — but they might also be farmers, skeptics argued."

Obama's top legal adviser Harold Koh insists that this killing spree is legal under international law because the US has the inherent right to self-defense. It's true that all nations possess the right to defend themselves, but the defense must be against an imminent attack that is overwhelming and leaves no moment of deliberation. When a nation is not in an armed conflict, the rules are even stricter. The killing must be necessary to protect life and there must be no other means, such as capture or nonlethal incapacitation, to prevent that threat to life. Outside of an active war zone, then, it is illegal to use weaponized drones, which are weapons of war incapable of taking a suspect alive.

Just think of the precedent the US is setting with its kill-don't-capture doctrine. Were the US rationale to be applied by other countries, China might declare an ethnic Uighur activist living in New York City as an "enemy combatant" and send a missile into Manhattan; Russia could assert that it was legal to launch a drone attack against someone living in London whom they claim is linked to Chechen militants. Or consider the case of Luis Posada Carrilles, a Cuban-American living in Miami who is a known terrorist convicted of masterminding a 1976 bombing of a Cuban airliner that killed 73 people. Given the failure of the US legal system to bring Posada to justice, the Cuban government could claim that it has the right to send a drone into downtown Miami to kill an admitted terrorist and sworn enemy.

Dennis Blair, former director of national intelligence, called the drone strike campaign "dangerously seductive" because it was low cost, entailed no casualties and gives the appearance of toughness. "It plays well domestically," he said, "and it is unpopular only in other countries. Any damage it does to the national interest only shows up over the long term."

But an article in the Washington Post the following day, May 30, entitled "Drone strikes spur backlash in Yemen," shows that the damage is not just long term but immediate. After interviewing more than 20 tribal leaders, victims' relatives, human rights activists and officials from southern Yemen, journalist Sudarsan Raghavan concluded that the escalating U.S. strikes are radicalizing the local population and stirring increasing sympathy for al-Qaeda-linked militants. "The drones are killing al-Qaeda leaders," said legal coordinator of a local human rights group Mohammed al-Ahmadi, "but they are also turning them into heroes."

Even the New York Times article acknowledges that Pakistan and Yemen are less stable and more hostile to the United States since Mr. Obama became president, that drones have become a provocative symbol of American power running roughshod over national sovereignty and killing innocents.

One frightening aspect of the Times piece is what it says about the American public. After all, this is an election-time piece about Obama's leadership style, told from the point of view of mostly Obama insiders bragging about how the president is no shrinking violent when it comes to killing. Implicit is the notion that Americans like tough leaders who don't agonize over civilian deaths—over there, of course.

Shahzad Akbar, a Pakistani lawyer suing the CIA on behalf of drone victims, thinks its time for the American people to speak out. "Can you trust a program that has existed for eight years, picks its targets in secret, faces zero accountability and has killed almost 3,000 people in Pakistan alone whose identities are not known to their killers?," he asks. "When women and children in Waziristan are killed with Hellfire missiles, Pakistanis believe this is what the American people want. I would like to ask Americans, 'Do you?'"





Obama At Large: Where Are The Lawyers?

By Ralph Nader


The rule of law is rapidly breaking down at the top levels of our government. As officers of the court, we have sworn to “support the Constitution,” which clearly implies an affirmative commitment on our part.

Take the administrations of George W. Bush and Barack Obama. The conservative American Bar Association sent three white papers to President Bush describing his continual unconstitutional policies. Then and now civil liberties groups and a few law professors, such as the stalwart David Cole of Georgetown University and Jonathan Turley of George Washington University, have distinguished themselves in calling out both presidents for such violations and the necessity for enforcing the rule of law.

Sadly, the bulk of our profession, as individuals and through their bar associations, has remained quietly on the sidelines. They have turned away from their role as “first-responders” to protect the Constitution from its official violators.

As a youngster in Hawaii, basketball player Barack Obama was nicknamed by his schoolboy chums as “Barry O’Bomber,” according to the Washington Post. Tuesday’s (May 29) New York Times published a massive page-one feature article by Jo Becker and Scott Shane, that demonstrated just how inadvertently prescient was this moniker. This was not an adversarial, leaked newspaper scoop. The article had all the signs of cooperation by the three dozen, interviewed current and former advisers to President Obama and his administration. The reporters wrote that a weekly role of the president is to personally select and order a “kill list” of suspected terrorists or militants via drone strikes or other means. The reporters wrote that this personal role of Obama’s is “without precedent in presidential history.” Adversaries are pulling him into more and more countries – Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and other territories.

The drones have killed civilians, families with small children, and even allied soldiers in this undeclared war based on secret “facts” and grudges (getting even). These attacks are justified by secret legal memos claiming that the president, without any Congressional authorization, can without any limitations other that his say-so, target far and wide assassinations of any “suspected terrorist,” including American citizens.

The bombings by Mr. Obama, as secret prosecutor, judge, jury and executioner, trample proper constitutional authority, separation of powers, and checks and balances and constitute repeated impeachable offenses. That is, if a pathetic Congress ever decided to uphold its constitutional responsibility, including and beyond Article I, section 8’s war-declaring powers.

As if lawyers needed any reminding, the Constitution is the foundation of our legal system and is based on declared, open boundaries of permissible government actions. That is what a government of law, not of men, means. Further our system is clearly demarked by independent review of executive branch decisions – by our courts and Congress.

What happens if Congress becomes, in constitutional lawyer Bruce Fein’s words, “an ink blot,” and the courts beg off with their wholesale dismissals of Constitutional matters based on claims and issue involves a “political question” or that parties have “no-standing-to-sue.” What happens is what is happening. The situation worsens every year, deepening dictatorial secretive decisions by the White House, and not just regarding foreign and military policies.

The value of The New York Times article is that it added ascribed commentary on what was reported. Here is a sample:

- The U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan, Cameron P. Munter, quoted by a colleague as complaining about the CIA’s strikes driving American policy commenting that he: “didn’t realize his main job was to kill people.” Imagine what the sidelined Foreign Service is thinking about greater longer-range risks to our national security.

- Dennis Blair, former Director of National Intelligence, calls the strike campaign “dangerously seductive.” He said that Obama’s obsession with targeted killings is “the politically advantageous thing to do — low cost, no US casualties, gives the appearance of toughness. It plays well domestically, and it is unpopular only in other countries. Any damage it does to the national interest only shows up over the long term.” Blair, a retired admiral, has often noted that intense focus on strikes sidelines any long-term strategy against al-Qaeda which spreads wider with each drone that vaporizes civilians.

- Former CIA director Michael Hayden decries the secrecy: “This program rests on the personal legitimacy of the president and that’s not sustainable,” he told the Times. “Democracies do not make war on the basis of legal memos locked in a D.O.J. [Department of Justice] safe.”

Consider this: an allegedly liberal former constitutional law lecturer is being cautioned about blowback, the erosion of democracy and the national security by former heads of super-secret spy agencies!

Secrecy-driven violence in government breeds fear and surrender of conscience. When Mr. Obama was campaigning for president in 2007, he was reviled by Hillary Clinton, Joseph Biden Jr. and Mitt Romney – then presidential candidates – for declaring that even if Pakistan leaders objected, he would go after terrorist bases in Pakistan. Romney said he had “become Dr. Strangelove,” according to the Times. Today all three of candidate Obama’s critics have decided to go along with egregious violations of our Constitution.

The Times made the telling point that Obama’s orders now “can target suspects in Yemen whose names they do not know.” Such is the drift to one-man rule, consuming so much of his time in this way at the expense of addressing hundreds of thousands of preventable fatalities yearly here in the U.S. from occupational disease, environmental pollution, hospital infections and other documented dangerous conditions.

Based on deep reporting, Becker and Shane allowed that “both Pakistan and Yemen are arguably less stable and more hostile to the United States than when Obama became president.”

In a world of lawlessness, force will beget force, which is what the CIA means by “blowback.” Our country has the most to lose when we abandon the rule of law and embrace lawless violence that is banking future revenge throughout the world.

The people in the countries we target know what we must remember. We are their occupiers, their invaders, the powerful supporters for decades of their own brutal tyrants. We’re in their backyard, which more than any other impetus spawned al-Qaeda in the first place.

So lawyers of America, apart from a few stalwarts among you, what is your breaking point? When will you uphold your oath of office and work to restore constitutional authorities and boundaries?

Someday, people will ask – where were the lawyers?

Dark Knights

A man alleged to have lured two US volunteer firefighters to their deaths in Webster, New York left a long note outlining his plans, police say.

No motive was given but the note left by William Spengler, identified as the gunman said he was planning to «do what I like doing best – killing people.»

Police searching Spengler’s burnt-out house say they have found human remains – believed to be those of his sister.

The firefighters were shot dead as they arrived to tackle a fire on Monday.

At a news conference on Tuesday, police said Spengler, 62, had three guns and aimed to burn down his neighborhood.

William Spengler spent 17 years in prison for killing his grandmother
Seven homes on a narrow stretch of land beside Lake Ontario were destroyed by the fire. Another two firemen and an off-duty police officer were wounded in the attack.

Police Chief Gerald Pickering told reporters that Spengler, who apparently shot himself in the head, had used a .38 calibre revolver, a 12-gauge shotgun and a Bushmaster .223 calibre rifle with flash suppression.

The same make and calibre rifle had been used in the murder of 26 teachers and children at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut on 14 December, he said.

The police chief told reporters in Webster that a two- to three-page note from the gunman had been found in which he said: «I still have to get ready to see how much of the neighbourhood I can burn down and do what I like doing best – killing people.»

At a later briefing, Mr Pickering said human remains were found in the house Spengler shared with his 67-year-old sister, Cheryl.

Police believe the remains are hers.

Spengler and his sister lived with their mother until her death in October.

‘Clear ambush’
Spengler had served 17 years in jail for killing his grandmother with a hammer but had done nothing to attract the authorities’ attention since being granted parole in 1998.

As a convicted criminal, he was not allowed to own weapons.

Police said he appeared to have set «a trap» by setting fire to his home. His older sister, Cheryl, whom he reportedly hated, is missing.

Two of the firefighters who responded to the call, Tomasz Kaczowka, 19, and Mike Chiapperini, aged 43, were shot dead in what was described as a «clear ambush» on emergency services.

Their two wounded colleagues are said to be in a stable condition with gunshot wounds.

The off-duty police officer, who was also shot and wounded as he came to their aid, was praised by the police chief for saving people’s lives.

Gerald Pickering cited «mental health issues» as a possible factor for the attack, which came months after the death of Spengler’s mother.

The Newtown killer, Adam Lanza, killed his mother with her own guns before launching his attack on Sandy Hook elementary school in Connecticut.

His murders of 20 children aged six and seven have prompted a national debate on gun ownership and mental health.

«It’s sad to see that that this is becoming more commonplace in communities across the nation,» Monroe County Sheriff Patrick O’Flynn told AP news agency after the attack in New York state


Two volunteer firefighters have been shot dead and two injured while responding to an emergency call in the town of Webster in New York state.

It appears the four were fired upon as they arrived at the scene of a fire early on Monday morning.

The blaze broke out just before 06:00 local time (11:00 GMT) and the shooting reportedly prevented firefighters putting it out for several hours.

A gunman has been found dead at the scene, local police say.

«Upon arrival of the first… engine company and some firefighters in their personal vehicles, they underwent gunfire from a location unknown,» Webster’s Fire Marshal Rob Boutillier told reporters.

The two dead firefighters were named by police as Tomasz Kaczowka and Mike Chiapperini.

An off-duty policeman who was driving by the scene at the time received shrapnel wounds and was also being treated, Webster Police Chief Gerald Pickering told reporters.

Police spokesmen said the area was «an active crime scene» but that no more shooters were believed to be present.

‘Senseless act’
Police teams moved in to evacuate residents after the shooting.

Firefighters were then able to return to the scene and are now tackling the blaze.

«All of our thoughts and prayers go to the families and friends of those who were killed in this senseless act of violence,» New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said in a statement.

«The contributions made by the fallen and injured officers in Webster will never be forgotten,» New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said.

«As this investigation unfolds, we stand with our partners in law enforcement to ensure that lethal weapons are out of the hands of dangerous people, so that the brave New Yorkers who risk their lives every day to protect us are not exposed to additional danger,» he added.

Also on Monday, a policeman was shot dead in the city of Houston, Texas after the driver of a car he pulled over opened fire on him.

The debate on gun violence in the US was rekindled earlier this month by the shootings at a school in Newtown, Connecticut, which left 20 children and six adults dead at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

It was one of the worst mass shootings in American history.

«There’s a heightened awareness to this kind of violence in light of what happened in Connecticut,» said Maggie Brooks, leader of the local administration in Monroe County, the area which includes Webster.

«We have first responders and we have families who are in pain and crisis today and we need to, as a community, keep them in our thoughts and prayers,» Mrs Brooks said, adding that it was a «very, very difficult day».

President Obama has promised to push for action on gun control while the National Rifle Association (NRA) has called for armed security in all American schools.


source: ThinkProgress

Immediately after the suicide of Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher, who police say murdered his girlfriend at their home before driving to the Chiefs’ practice facility and shooting himself in front of the team’s coach and general manager, thoughts turned to the role concussions and brain injuries may have played in the tragedy.

But during halftime of last night’s Sunday Night Football broadcast, NBC’s Bob Costas brought up another angle: the role guns, and our nation’s lax gun laws, played in the tragedy. After a brief introduction, Costas quoted Kansas City-based columnist Jason Whitlock, who wrote yesterday that he believed both Belcher and his girlfriend, Kasandra Perkins, would be alive today were it not for Belcher’s possession of a gun


Thomas «Tres» Caffall, the man who police say killed two people–including a Texas constable–in a shooting near the Texas A&M University campus on Monday was a «ticking time bomb,» his stepfather says.

«He was crazy as hell,» Richard Weaver, Caffall’s stepfather, told KPRC-TV. «At one point, we were afraid that he was going to come up here and do something to his mother and me.»

Caffall, 35, opened fire as the Brazos County constable, Brian Bachmann, was attempting to serve him an eviction notice, College Station police said. Officers responded to the off-campus house shortly after noon following reports of shots fired, and found the 41-year-old Bachmann on the ground.
Caffall was shot during what police described as a 30-minute «gun battle.» Bachmann and Caffall were taken to College Station Medical Center, where they were pronounced dead.


By Deanne Katz, Esq. at FindLaw.com
Wed Aug 8, 2012 12:22am EDT

Scott Smith was likely trying to emulate the horrific Colorado shootings when he brought a gun, extra ammo, and several knives to a late night showing of The Dark Knight Rises. Luckily his performance was cut short when an observant manager and a security guard noticed him.

Off-duty Officer Jeremiah Bullins, that night’s security guard, approached Smith in the Crocker Park, Ohio theater where he was sitting and asked to check his bag. Smith complied which is when Bullins saw the weaponry.

Smith was charged with crimes related to carrying the weapons, especially given his personal status.

Prosecutors are charging Smith with carrying a weapon under disability, reports WKYC. The claim is that his prescription medications prevent him from owning firearms under any circumstances.

If proven, Smith will be in trouble for owning the weapons, never mind carrying them into a theater.

But that’s not the only charge against him. Smith is also charged with carrying a concealed weapon.

Ohio, like many states, has laws requiring gun owners to get a special permit to carry a concealed weapon. Even if Smith turns out to be a lawful gun owner, it does not appear that he has a permit to carry concealed weapons.

For states that require a permit for concealed weapons, any gun owner who does not have a permit must keep their guns in view at all times while carrying them in public. Several states ban concealed weapons entirely.

Theater personnel have been on high alert since James Holmes gunned-down movie goers last month. Scott Smith’s foiled attempt is evidence that their efforts are not in vain.


(Reuters) – The white supremacist gunman who killed six people at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head, the FBI said on Wednesday.

A police officer shot and wounded the gunman, Wade Page, 40, in the stomach outside the temple in Oak Creek on Sunday, said Teresa Carlson, an FBI special agent in charge.

«Subsequent to that wound, it appears that Page died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head,» she told a news conference.

Police had said Page had been shot to death by an officer responding to the attack at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin in suburban Milwaukee.

Carlson said she had seen a video of the police officer wounding Page with a squad rifle. «It’s an amazing shot, and thank goodness,» she said.

Federal authorities have said they are treating the attack as a possible act of domestic terrorism. Page, an Army veteran, was a musician who played in white power punk-metal bands. He was armed with a 9mm handgun during the attack.

Turban-wearing Sikhs are often mistaken for Muslims in the United States. The Sikh faith was founded in the Punjab area of India and Pakistan and has an estimated 500,000 or more adherents in the United States.

President Barack Obama called Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to express his condolences over the temple shooting.

Carlson said investigators had not found any motive for the attack, which also wounded four people, including a police officer shot eight or nine times after responding to a 911 call.

The wounded officer, Lieutenant Brian Murphy, is up and walking, Carlson said.

Investigators have conducted more than 100 interviews with Page’s relatives, employers and associates, Carlson said. They are also following 101 leads worldwide and have issued 180 federal grand jury subpoenas.

Police have arrested Page’s former girlfriend, Misty Cook, on a weapons charge. Carlson said the arrest took place at Cook’s Milwaukee home late on Sunday and was unrelated to the shooting investigation.

Police said on Tuesday that a charge of being a felon in possession of a firearm would be sought against Cook, 31. [ID:nL2E8J80OC] (Additional reporting by Paul Thomasch; writing by Ian Simpson; editing by Vicki Allen and Mohammad Zargham)


The White House gave a cool welcome on Monday to Democratic legislation that wouldeffectively ban online or mail-order purchases of ammunition in the aftermath of the mass shooting at an Aurora, Colorado, movie theater.
«I haven’t seen the specific piece of legislation that has been offered up today,» spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters at the daily press briefing. «But as that and other pieces of legislation make their way through the legislative process, we’ll evaluate them.»
The proposal, crafted by Democratic Senator Frank Lautenberg and Democratic Representative Carolyn McCarthy, aims to restrict the ability of Americans to buy unlimited quantities of ammunition over the Internet, or by mail order, anonymously.
President Barack Obama has called for a common sense response to the slaughter in Aurora. But the White House has played down his appetite for new legislation as opposed to tightening or toughening existing measures—such as background checks—to keep firearms out of the hands of criminals or the mentally ill. And the president has underlined his support for the Second Amendment to the Constitution.
«He believes in the second amendment of the constitution, in the right to bear arms,» Earnest said again Monday.  «But he also believes that we should take robust steps, within existing law, to ensure that guns don’t fall in the hands of criminals or others who shouldn’t have them.
The new legislation, dubbed the Stop Online Ammunition Sales Act,  rests on four pillars, according to Lautenberg’s office:
It requires anyone selling ammunition to be a licensed dealer.
It requires ammunition buyers who are not licensed dealers to present photo identification at the time of purchase, effectively banning the online or mail order purchase of ammo by regular civilians.
It requires licensed ammunition dealers to maintain records of the sale of ammunition.
It requires licensed ammunition dealers to report the sale of more than 1,000 rounds of ammunition to an unlicensed person within any five consecutive business days.


Violent crime dropped in 2011, preliminary figures released by the Federal Bureau of Investigation on Monday show.
According to the FBI’s «Preliminary Annual Uniform Crime Report,» violent crimes fell 4 percent nationwide, part of a decade-plus decline in that category.
Murder was down about 2 percent, according to the FBI, while forcible rape, robbery and aggravated assault all fell 4.0 percent when compared to 2010. But in towns with populations of less than 10,000, there was an 18.3 percent increase in murder in 2011. There was also a 0.6 percent increase in murder in the Midwest.
The FBI did not give reasons for the trends.
Property crimes declined about 1 percent. Arsonwhich is considered a property crime though counted separatelyfell 5 percent, the FBI said. The only overall rise in property crimes was burglary, which was up marginally.
Data for the report is collected by the bureau from participating state and federal law enforcement agencies. Final figures will be published this fall.


Gun sales in Colorado have spiked since last week’s massacre, The Denver Post reports.
Background checks jumped more than 41 percent since Friday’s shooting that left 12 dead and 58 injured during a midnight screening of «The Dark Knight Rises» at an Aurora movie theater. Over the weekend, the Colorado Bureau of Investigation approved background checks for 2,887 people who wanted to purchase a firearm, the Post said, an increase of 43 percent over the previous weekend.
«It’s been insane,» Jake Meyers, an employee at Rocky Mountain Guns and Ammo in Parker, Colo., told the paper.
Spikes in gun sales are not uncommon in the aftermath of mass shootings like the one in Colorado. Following the January 2011 shooting that killed six and wounded more than a dozen others—including former Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords—in Tucson, sales of handguns soared more than 60 percent in the state, according to FBI data. Similar spikes were seen after the massacres at Virginia Tech and Columbine.
Some of those seeking to buy guns in Colorado over the weekend said they were seeking to arm themselves for protection in the wake of the shooting, according to the report. But many were likely fearful of a change in gun laws. Democratic state Rep. Rhonda Fields of Aurora told the paper she wants Congress to reinstate a ban on assault weapons.
«When something like this happens people get worried that the government is going to ban stuff,» Greg Wolff, an Arizona gun shop owner, told Bloomberg.com after the rampage in Tucson.
They also get worried when a Democrat is about to take office. Before President Barack Obama’s 2008 election, there was a spike in gun sales, and gun shop owners and manufacturers have reported similarly brisk buying in 2012.
«It’s definitely the election year,» Jason Hanson, a former CIA officer, told Fox News in March. «People feel that Obama will serve second term and with it their gun rights with taken away, so they are stocking up.»
In December, the FBI reported a record number of background checks—1,534,414—sent by gun dealers. «Almost half a million checks were done in just the last six days before Christmas,» according to CNN. In 2010, the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System received more than 14 million requests, more than in any other year.
James Holmes, the suspected shooter in Friday’s massacre, was found with a military-style AR-15 assault rifle, two Glock .40-caliber pistols and a Remington 12-gauge shotgun when he was arrested outside the theater in Aurora. And like Jared Loughner, the accused killer in the Tucson massacre, Holmes purchased the guns legally.

CREDO Action | more than a network, a movement.

Dear Friend,
The shock and trauma from the images and stories from Aurora are still very much with us, and it is impossible to put into words the pain being felt by families and friends of the victims.
But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t speak out. In the wake of this massacre, it’s time to put aside politics and reinstate the federal ban on assault weapons.
After the news broke last Friday, President Barack Obama said that «there are going to be other days for politics, this I think is a day for prayer and reflection.» Governor Mitt Romney said, «I stand before you today not as a man running for office, but as a father and grandfather, a husband, and American.»1 Both of their campaigns asked networks to pull their negative advertisements.
The gestures from the two men who are running for President were welcome steps. But, we need more than sympathetic words. We need real leadership to start to address the senseless gun violence that holds our communities hostage.
One of the principal weapons used by the shooter in the horrific Aurora massacre was an AR-15 assault rifle.2 This weapon features a magazine that holds 100 rounds of bullets, and its trigger is capable of firing 50-60 rounds per minute.3
The federal assault weapons ban which was passed in 1994, banned the sale of guns like the AR-15.4 Unfortunately, that ban expired in 2004 as a result of fierce lobbying by the NRA. It’s long past time to reinstate the federal ban on assault weapons like the AR-15.

CREDO members worked to pass the federal assault weapons ban in 1994. And we fought to stop its expiration in 2004. And we continue to advocate for a federal ban on assault weapons like the AR-15 used in the Aurora massacre.

Massacres on the scale of the tragedy in Aurora happen in part because our federal gun laws make it easy for civilians to obtain military-level firepower. We need to pass and enforce sensible federal gun laws restricting ready access for civilians to assault weapons. Reinstating a strong version of the federal ban on assault weapons known as the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act is where we should start.
We’re not so naïve as to think that sensible gun laws are all that’s needed to stop the killings. There are many things that need to change in American culture to stop the next Aurora-like massacre. But we do know one thing we should put at the top of the list — keeping military-level assault weapons like the AR-15 with a high capacity clip out of the hands of civilians. Click below to automatically sign the petition.

r=6916339&p=obama_romney_guns&

id=43839-5154581-hC2Ah5x&t=10

Thank you for speaking out.
Becky Bond, Political Director
CREDO Action from Working Assets
1. Adam Serwer, «Politicizing Tragedy and the Aurora Theater Shooting,’ MotherJones.com, July 20, 2012.
2. Zack Beauchamp, «Expired Assault Weapons Ban Would Have Covered Rifle Used In Colorado Shooting,» ThinkProgress.org, July 20, 2012.
3. Caroline Hedley, «It Was Shockingly Easy For The Batman Shooter To Buy A Massive Arsenal,» BusinessInsider.com, July 21, 2012.
4. Beauchamp, «Expired Assault Weapons Ban Would Have Covered Rifle Used In Colorado Shooting

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AURORA, Colo. (AP) — The University of Colorado said Sunday it was investigating whether shooting suspect James Holmes used his position as a graduate student to order materials in the potentially deadly booby traps that police said they found in his apartment.

Holmes, 24, got deliveries over four months to his home and school, authorities have said. The university is looking into what was received at the school to assist police with their investigation, said spokeswoman Jacque Montgomery.

The suspect was described as a budding scientist, brimming with potential, who pursued a graduate program even as he planned the attack with «calculation and deliberation,» police said.

Investigators spent hours Saturday removing explosive materials from inside Holmes’ apartment a day after police said he opened fire and set off gas canisters in a movie theater minutes into a premiere of the «The Dark Knight Rises.» The massacre left 12 people dead and 58 injured.

His apartment was booby trapped with jars of liquids, explosives and chemicals that could have killed «whoever entered it,» Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates said, noting it would have likely been one of his officers.

Inside the apartment, bomb technicians neutralized a «hypergolic mixture» and an improvised explosive device containing an unknown substance, said James Yacone, an FBI special agent. There also were containers of accelerants, creating «an extremely dangerous environment,» he said.

Oates said on CBS’ «Face the Nation» that he had never seen a booby trap as elaborate as what was found in the apartment.

By late Saturday afternoon, all hazards had been removed from the apartment and residents in surrounding buildings were allowed to return home, police said.

The exception was Holmes’ apartment building, where authorities were still collecting evidence. Authorities covered the windows of Holmes’ apartment with black plastic to prevent anyone from seeing in. Before they did, a man in an ATF T-shirt could be seen measuring a poster on a closet that advertised a DVD called «Soldiers of Misfortune.» The poster showed several figures in various positions playing paintball, some wearing masks.

Police left the apartment building carrying a laptop computer and a hard drive about 8 p.m. Saturday.
Holmes was in solitary confinement for his protection at a Denver-area county detention facility, held without bond on suspicion of multiple counts of first-degree murder. He was set for an initial hearing on Monday and has been appointed a public defender.

President Barack Obama was scheduled to travel to Colorado on Sunday to visit with the families of victims. The city of Aurora planned a vigil to remember the dead and wounded in the shooting later in the evening.
Among the dead was a 6-year-old girl and a man who died on his 27th birthday and a day before his wedding anniversary. Families grieved and waited at hospitals, with police reporting 11 people still in critical condition as of Saturday.

While authorities continued to refuse to discuss a possible motive for one of the deadliest mass shootings in recent U.S. history, details about Holmes’ background as a student and would-be scientist trickled out.
Holmes had recently withdrawn from the competitive graduate program in neuroscience at the University of Colorado Denver, where he was one of six pre-thesis Ph.D. students at its Neuroscience Program to be funded by a prestigious grant from the National Institutes of Health. The program of 35 students is dedicated to training outstanding neuroscientists and academicians who will make significant contributions to neurobiology, the university said in a statement.

In the first year of the five- to seven-year program, students take classes and complete three, three-month research rotations in the labs of different professors.

Professors who worked with him either did not return calls or declined to comment, saying police and university officials had told them not to speak to the media.

At one point in the year, Holmes was engaged in research about RNA and was to present a paper May 8 about RNA Biomarkers, according to a class schedule. It was unclear if he presented the paper.
Holmes recently took an intense, three-part oral exam that marks the end of the first year. Those who do well continue with their studies and shift to full-time research, while those who don’t do well meet with advisers and discuss their options, including retaking the exam.

University officials would not say if he passed, citing privacy concerns.
The university said Holmes gave no reason for his withdrawal, a decision he made in June.
«The focus of the program is on training outstanding neuroscientists and academicians who will make significant contributions to neurobiology,» the university said. The doctoral program usually takes five to seven years to complete, it said.

Holmes was not allowed access from the institution after his withdrawal, which was «standard operating procedure» because he was no longer affiliated with the school, Montgomery said. Holmes had no contact with university police, she said.

In a resume posted on Monster.com, Holmes listed himself as an «aspiring scientist» and said he was looking for a job as a laboratory technician.

The resume, first obtained in Holmes’ home state of California by The Press-Enterprise in Riverside, paints a picture of a brilliant young man brimming with potential: He worked as a summer intern at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla in 2006 and mapped the neurons of Zebra finches and studied the flight muscles of hummingbirds while an undergraduate at the University of California, Riverside.

He also worked as a cabin counselor to underprivileged children at a summer camp in Los Angeles in 2008. In a statement, Camp Max Straus confirmed Holmes had worked there for eight weeks. The camp provided no other details about Holmes but said such counselors are generally responsible for the care and guidance of roughly 10 children.

Ritchie Duong, a friend who has known Holmes for more than a decade, told the Los Angeles Times that in high school he liked to play cards and video games. They both attended undergraduate school at the University of California, Riverside, where they saw each other once a week to watch the TV show «Lost.»
Duong last saw Holmes in December when they met for dinner in Los Angeles and saw a movie together. His friend seemed fine, he told the newspaper.
Academics came easily to Holmes both at high school and at the UC Riverside, Duong said.
«I had one college class with him, and he didn’t even have to take notes or anything. He would just show up to class, sit there, and around test time he would always get an ‘A,'» said Duong, 24.
During the attack early Friday, Holmes used the military-style semiautomatic rifle, a shotgun and a pistol to open fire on the unsuspecting theater-goers, Oates said. Holmes had bought the weapons at local gun stores within the past two months. He recently purchased 6,000 rounds of ammunition over the Internet, the chief said.

The semiautomatic assault rifle used by the gunman jammed during the attack, a federal law enforcement official told The Associated Press, which forced the shooter to switch to another gun with less fire power.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to in order to discuss the investigation, said the disabled weapon had a high-capacity ammunition magazine. Police have said that a 100-round drum magazine was recovered at the scene and that such a device would be able to fire 50 to 60 rounds a minute.

Holmes also bought an urban assault vest, two magazine holders and a knife for just over $300 on July 2 from an online supplier of tactical gear for police and military personnel, according to the company.
Chad Weinman, CEO of TacticalGear.com, said his company processes thousands of orders each day, and there was nothing unusual in the one that Holmes placed.

The Batman movie, the last in the trilogy starring Christian Bale, opened worldwide Friday with midnight showings in the U.S. «The Dark Knight Rises» earned $30.6 million in the midnight screenings, and, according to industry estimates, roughly $75 million on that day as a whole. That put it on track for a weekend total of around $165 million, which would be the second-highest opening weekend ever, following «The Avengers.»

The shooting was the worst in the U.S. since the Nov. 5, 2009, attack at Fort Hood, Texas. An Army psychiatrist was charged with killing 13 soldiers and civilians and wounding more than two dozen others.
Across the street from the movie theater, a man who placed 15 crosses near Columbine High School after a 1999 massacre there has returned to Colorado with 12 crosses for the victims of Friday’s shooting.
Greg Zanis, of Aurora, Ill., began putting up the 3 1/2-foot-tall crosses Sunday on a hill across the street from the Century 16 theater.
___

Associated Press contributors to this report include Mead Gruver, Thomas Piepert, Kristen Wyatt, Steven K. Paulson, Ivan Moreno, P. Solomon Banda and Gillian Flaccus in Aurora; Dan Elliott, Colleen Slevin in Denver; AP Entertainment Writer Jake Coyle in New York; M.L. Johnson in Chicago; Brian Skoloff in Salt Lake City; Monika Mathur and Jennifer Farrar at News Research Center in New York; and Eileen Sullivan in Washington.


Twelve people were killed and 59 were injured in Aurora, Colo., during a sold-out midnight premier of the new Batman movie «The Dark Knight Rises» when 24-year-old James Holmes unloaded four weapons’ full of ammunition into the unsuspecting crowd.
The number of casualties makes the incident the largest mass shooting in U.S. history.

Holmes, a graduate student at a nearby college with a clean arrest record, entered the movie auditorium wearing a ballistics helmet, bullet-proof vest, bullet-proof leggings, gas mask and gloves. He detonated multiple smoke bombs, and then began firing at viewers in the sold-out auditorium, police said today.

Bullets from the spree tore through the theater and into adjoining theaters, where at least one other person was struck and injured. Ten members of «The Dark Knight Rises» audience were killed in theater, while two others died later at area hospitals. Numerous patrons were in critical condition at six local hospitals, the Aurora police said this afternoon.

Holmes was apprehended within minutes of the 12:39 a.m. shooting at his car behind the theater, where police found him in full riot gear and carrying three weapons, including a AR-15 assault rifle, which can hold upwards of 100 rounds, a Remington 12 gauge shot gun, and a .40 Glock handgun. A fourth handgun was found in the vehicle. Agents from the federal bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms are tracing the weapons.

According to police sources, Holmes told the officers arresting him that he was «The Joker,» referring to the villain in the second installment of the Batman movie trilogy, «The Dark Knight.» He also warned police that he had booby-trapped his apartment, leading officers to evacuate the Aurora apartment building.

Police Chief Dan Oates said today that police and bomb squads have found a large number of explosive devices and trip wires at Holmes’ apartment and have not yet decided how to proceed without setting off explosions.

«The pictures we have from inside the apartment are pretty disturbing considering how elaborate the apartment is booby trapped,» police said outside of the apartment complex today. The «flammable and explosive» materials could have blown up Holmes’ apartment building and the ones near it, police said.

The apartment complex is home exclusively to University of Colorado Medical Center students, patients, and staff members, residents tell ABC News.
Moviegoer Christopher Ramos today recalled the real-life horror of the midnight premiere of the latest Batman movie, «The Dark Knight Rises,» in Aurora, Colo., as a gunman decked in riot gear set off smoke bombs and opened fire on the unsuspecting audience.

«People were running everywhere, running on top of me, like kicking me, jumping over me. And there were bodies on the ground,» Ramos said. «I froze up. I was scared. I honestly thought I was going to die.»

«The image in our heads is stuck in there. I still have the ticket right here and honestly, I’m never going to forget this night at all. Because it was the first time I saw something that was real. Like a real-life nightmare that was there, not dreaming of,» Ramos told ABC News today.

Witnesses in the movie theater said Holmes saw smoke and heard gunshots that they thought were part of the movie until they saw Holmes standing in front of the screen, after entering from an emergency exit. Holmes methodically stalked the aisles of the theater, shooting people at random, as panicked movie-watchers in the packed auditorium tried to escape, witnesses said.

At one point the shooter exited the theater only to wait outside the doors and pick off patrons as they tried to exit, witness Jennifer Seeger told «Good Afternoon America.»

«You just smelled smoke and you just kept hearing it, you just heard bam bam bam, non-stop. The gunman never had to reload. Shots just kept going, kept going, kept going,» one witness told ABC News.

«I’m with coworkers and we’re on the floor praying to God we don’t get shot, and the gunshots continue on and on, and when the sound finally stopped, we started to get up and people were just bleeding,» another theatergoer said.

The suspected shooter will face his first court appearance next week, according to district attorney Carol Chambers.

Holmes, originally of San Diego, moved to Aurora to pursue his Ph.D. at the University of Colorado medical center, living just blocks from the hospital in an apartment that police say is now laced with explosives and being searched by HazMat teams.

Federal law enforcement sources tell ABC News that Holmes bought a ticket to the movie, slipped out of the theater once it began and propped open the emergency exit before gathering his weapons and gear and coming back into the theater. Once inside, he opened fire.

A San Diego woman identifying herself as James Holmes’s mother spoke briefly with ABC News this morning.

She had awoken unaware of the news of the shooting and had not been contacted by authorities. She immediately expressed concern that her son may have been involved.
«You have the right person,» she said.

«I need to call the police,» she added. «I need to fly out to Colorado.»
The woman and her husband later released a statement saying their «hearts go out to those who involved in this tragedy and to the families and friends of those involved. We are still trying to process this information and we appreciate that people will respect our privacy.»

The highly-anticipated third installment of the Batman trilogy opened to packed auditoriums around the country at midnight showings on Friday morning, and features a villain named Bane who wears a bulletproof vest and gas mask. Trailers for the movie show explosions at public events including a football game. Though many moviegoers dressed in costume to attend the opening night screening, police have made no statements about any connection between the gunman’s motives and the movie.
Read More: NRA Deletes Tweet After Shooting

Police in New York have intensified security around showings of the film throughout the five boroughs today, with Police Commissioner Ray Kelley saying that «as a precaution against copycats and to raise the comfort levels among movie patrons in the wake of the horrendous shooting in Colorado, the New York City Police Department is providing coverage at theaters where the ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ is playing.»

The Paris premiere of the movie has been cancelled in the wake of the shootings. «Warner Bros. and the filmmakers are deeply saddened to learn about this shocking incident. We extend our sincere sympathies to the families and loved ones of the victims at this tragic time,» the movie’s producers said in a statement.

Witnesses watching movies in theaters next to the one where the shooting took place said bullets tore through the theater walls and they heard screaming.
Read More: Obama and Romney Respond to Shooting

«The suspect throws tear gas in the air, and as the tear gas appears he started shooting,» said Lamar Lane, who was watching the midnight showing of the movie with his brother. «It was very hard to breathe. I told my brother to take cover. It took awhile. I started seeing flashes and screaming, I just saw blood and people yelling and a quick glimpse of the guy who had a gas mask on. I was pushed out. There was chaos, we started running.»

One witness said she saw people dropping to the ground after the gunshots began.
«We were maybe 20 or 30 minutes into the movie and all you hear, first you smell smoke, everybody thought it was fireworks or something like that, and then you just see people dropping and the gunshots are constant,» witness Christ Jones told ABC’s Denver affiliate KMGH. «I heard at least 20 to 30 rounds within that minute or two.»
A man who talked to a couple who was inside the theater told ABC News, «They got up and they started to run through the emergency exit, and that when she turned around, she said all she saw was the guy slowly making his way up the stairs and just firing at people, just picking random people,» he said. «The gunshots continued to go on and on and then after we didn’t hear anything…we finally got up and there was people bleeding, there was people obviously may have been actually dead or anything, and we just ran up out of there, there was chaos everywhere.»

Witnesses and victims were taken to Gateway High School for questioning.
Hundreds of police and FBI agents are involved in the investigation. A senior official who is monitoring the situation in Washington said that early guidance based on the early snapshot of this man’s background indicated that this act does not appear to be linked to radical terrorism or anything related to Islamic terrorism.

Dr. Comilla Sasson, at the University of Colorado Hospital where many of the victims were taken, said they are currently operating on nine critical patients and have treated 22 in all. She called the hospital «an absolutely terrifying scene all night.»

«The good news is that the 3-month-old has actually been discharged home and is in the care of their parents

In a statement, President Obama said, «Michelle and I are shocked and saddened by the horrific and tragic shooting in Colorado. Federal and local law enforcement are still responding, and my administration will do everything that we can to support the people of Aurora in this extraordinarily difficult time. We are committed to bringing whoever was responsible to justice, ensuring the safety of our people, and caring for those who have been wounded.»


The American Rifleman, the official journal of the National Rifle Association, has deleted a tweet that appeared to make light of Friday’s shootings in Aurora, Colo., during a midnight screening of «Dark Knight Rises.»

«Good morning, shooters,» the message, published at 9:20 a.m. ET on the American Rifleman’s Twitter feed, read. «Happy Friday! Weekend plans?»

Not surprisingly, the tweet sparked considerable outrage, with hundreds of users–including Michael Moore and Keith Olbermann–pointing their followers to it.
The American Rifleman deleted the tweet several hours later but has yet to issue a formal apology.

It’s unclear whether the tweet was intentionally insensitive, or if the magazine’s tweeter was unaware of the shootings that left 12 dead and 50 wounded.
«Is there a way they wrote this without seeing the news?» Audrey Wauchope asked on Twitter.

«This is what happens when you don’t read the news,» the Columbia Journalism Review said.

In a statement to CNN, a spokesman for the NRA said that «a single individual, unaware of events in Colorado, tweeted a comment that is being completely taken out of context.»

The NRA wasn’t alone in appearing insensitive to the tragedy.

CelebBoutique.com–«the online boutique loved by your fave celebs»–took the «Aurora» trending topic as an opportunity to promote its Kim Kardashian-inspired dress


Violence like the massacre that happened in Aurora, Colo., today is a staple of action films, including Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy. A similar, now haunting, scene unfurls in «The Dark Knight Rises» when a masked villain leads a violent gang into a packed football stadium and deploys guns and explosives on the unsuspecting crowd.

While there has been no indication as to the motives of James Holmes, the suspected 24-year-old shooter who is now in custody, new evidence suggests that he was inspired by the Batman series of comic books and/or movies.

Law enforcement sources confirmed to ABC News that Holmes said «I am the Joker» when apprehended by authorities. His hair was painted red, the same hair color of Heath Ledger’s Joker at one point in 2008’s «The Dark Knight.»

There are more parallels. In Frank Miller’s iconic 1986 comic book series, «The Dark Knight Returns,» the Joker murders a television studio audience by deploying «smile gas.» Holmes began his massacre by setting off smoke bombs throughout the theater.

In the same book, Arnold Crimp, a disturbed man who just lost his job, pulls out a handgun in an adult film theater and kills three people. A scene from the strip shows a news anchor saying, «Three slain in Batman-inspired porn theater shoot-out.»

Seventy-one people were shot during today’s early morning massacre; 12 have died.

Christopher Irving, author of «Leaping Tall Buildings: The Origins of American Comics,» cautioned against blaming an iconic, fictional character for today’s tragedy.

«There have been thousands of Batman stories published, and I don’t think pinning a specific comic book story to the tragic happenings as an inspiration is fair, or likely anything beyond a sad coincidence,» he said.


Texas ‘stand your ground’ shooter headed to prison

A Texas man convicted of shooting and killing his unarmed neighbor during a dispute over loud music received a 40-year prison sentence on Wednesday.
Raul Rodriguez, 47, faced a minimum of five years and a maximum of life in prison.  He claimed he shot schoolteacher Kelly Danaher in self-defense under Texas’ version of the «stand your ground» law.
But prosecutors argued Rodriguez provoked the incident by confronting Danaher, 36, and his friends with a handgun and demanding they quiet down at a late-night birthday party in May 2010.
The Houston case captured more attention in the wake of Trayvon Martin’s death in Florida. There, George Zimmerman says he was being attacked and cited the state’s «stand your ground» law after shooting the unarmed teen. But prosecutors charged him with second-degree murder.
Two dozen states reportedly now allow citizens to stand their ground even outside their home. The specifics vary by state, but generally justify a person not retreating and using deadly force when a threat is perceived.
As in Florida, Texas law includes public areas, «if a person has a right to be present at a location where force is used.»
But veteran attorney Andy Drumheller told Yahoo News that the Houston jury appeared to draw a line with Rodriguez leaving his home and going down the street.
«The law is not designed to create this bubble that you can carry with you everywhere you go,» said Drumheller, a former prosecutor now practicing criminal defense in Houston. «The jury’s verdict is a cautionary statement on the limits of this defense.»
The Rodriguez case is also unique because the former firefighter was recording video during much of the ordeal.
Rodriguez, who had been calling police about the loud party, dialed 911 again as both sides shouted at each other near Danaher’s dark driveway.
«Tell you what, pal, you just pulled a gun on the wrong [expletive], OK?» one of the partygoers is heard telling Rodriguez on the home video.
Seconds later the partygoer warns, «When I go in that house and I come back, don’t think I won’t be equal to you, baby.»
Rodriguez, who told police he suspected the men were drunk, tells the 911 operator that he’s scared and will defend himself, if needed.
«I don’t want to do this, and it all started over them playing their music real loud … it’s about to get out of hand, Sir. Please help me. «
Seconds later, he says, «I’m standing my ground here, now these people are going to try and kill me.»
The video is dark when Danaher and two other men apparently lunged toward him, laughing loudly. Rodriguez fired his gun, killing Danaher and injuring two others.
In lobbying jurors for a lenient sentence, defense attorney Bill Stradley blamed the tragedy on his client’s misunderstanding of the state’s «stand your ground» law. Something he predicts will happen with other Texas gun owners in the future.
«And they will find themselves, like Raul Rodriguez, charged with murder,» said Stradley, according to the Houston Chronicle.
«Raul believed he had a right to be where he was. But he had two seconds to make that call, to pull that trigger.»

Death sentence handed down in Tucson against Shawna Forde, a resident of Washington State who headed the Minutemen American Defense group. She was convicted Feb. 14 of first-degree murder for orchestrating the killings of Brisenia and Raul Junior Flores of Arivaca, Ariz., a small community just north of the Mexican border.

“I think that the nation as a whole sees us as the wild, wild West, that things like that are going to be OK with us,” says Angie Thomas, who sat on the jury. “And they’re not.”

The case has drawn back the curtain to reveal the dark side of the debate raging in Arizona over illegal immigration.

Ms. Thomas and fellow jurors were told during the trial that Ms. Forde and accomplices gained entry to the Flores home with the expectation of finding drugs there, which could be sold to finance Minutemen American Defense’s border-control operations. Finding no drugs, the intruders made away with inexpensive jewelry but, prosecutors said, not before fatally shooting young Brisenia and Mr. Flores. Both victims were American citizens born in the US.

“I see Shawna Forde as someone who would have liked to have been the face of a movement,” Thomas says.

Arriving at the death sentence was difficult, Thomas says, but it was aided by a picture of Brisenia presented during trial that was etched in her mind: “A little girl, with bright red fingernails; she’s wearing a white T-shirt and turquoise-colored pajama bottoms. She’s on a love seat. It’s a perfect, innocent picture until you realize that half of her face has been blown off.”

Brisenia’s mother and Mr. Flores’s wife, Gina Gonzalez, was wounded during the shooting but survived. She testified that her daughter was shot point-blank as the girl pleaded for her life.


The 9/11 terrorist attacks and the lawlessness that followed Hurricanes Katrina and Ivan left people feeling unsafe. Prodded by the National Rifle Association, under its first female president Marion Hammer, Florida launched the «stand your ground» movement in 2005.

The fatal encounter between a 17-year-old black teenager and a mixed-race neighborhood watch volunteer has created a furor over «stand your ground» laws, which have been enacted in more than 20 states; legislation is pending in others. That Florida, the epicenter of the Trayvon Martin-George Zimmerman case, was the first to pass the law in 2005 adds to the debate. But for George Zimmerman, this defense might not even apply, according to some legal experts.

Regardless, the case has led to legislators second-guessing the law—including the men who sponsored and signed the Florida bill, and major businesses are backpedaling from a lobby group that has helped promote the defense.

Is «stand your ground» actually relevant to George Zimmerman? In terms of legal defense, maybe not. «Stand your ground» is an expansion on the so-called Castle Doctrine, the right to defend one’s homestead. Instead of defending yourself on your own personal property, though, «stand your ground» lets you carry that immunity into public property, which can include places of business, like a bar.

I don’t think based upon Zimmerman’s explanation to the police that he has a valid Stand Your Ground claim. He’s not saying that he was assaulted frontally and then made a decision not to retreat because he thought he had to use deadly force.

He’s basically saying old-fashioned self-defense: I was struck, I was knocked down, I was on the ground, and I had to physically defend myself. There’s nothing added to his claim by the Stand Your Ground law, and I would love to have legislatures around the country look at it and say, you know, this worked for 220 years and we don’t need to add anything to it. If you’ve got a right of self-defense, great. And if you don’t have a right to defend yourself, if you think it’s OK to shoot somebody because their dog pooped on your lawn, then we don’t agree with that, and it’s a crime. (Former assistant state attorney (Florida) Abe Laser, April 12, «Talk of the Nation,» NPR)

Supporters such as former Republican senator Durell Peaden and Rep. Dennis Baxley, who co-sponsored the bill, or former Florida governor Jeb Bush, who signed the bill into law, have said Zimmerman lost his right to this defense when he sought out Martin. Bush stated that «Stand your ground means stand your ground. It doesn’t mean chase after somebody who’s turned their back.»

But since the law may be confusing to enforcement—the controversy blew up when Sanford police declined to make an arrest—it has bolstered critics ranging from State Senator Chris Smith of Fort Lauderdale to New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg to call for widespread reform.

Who makes the decision? Rather than ask how relevant «stand your ground» is in the Martin-Zimmerman case, the real question may be who makes the decisions in the first place. The Sanford city manager claimed that the law «prohibited» police from making an arrest. Should police make the arrest and leave it to the district attorney to bring charges, as would happen in self-defense cases? Should such cases appear before a judge? Does a jury make the call?


The mother of a 15-year-old boy with autism who was fatally shot by police in his home Wednesday is facing off with suburban Chicago police officers who say the officer acted appropriately.

Stephon Watts, 15, who was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome when he was 9, had had 10 previous interactions with Calumet City, Ill. police in the last two years, including at least one where police discharged Tasers to subdue him, the Chicago Tribune reports. Watts’ father called the police Wednesday after arguing with his son, who didn’t want to go to school, having been instructed by social workers that Watts should be handled by authorities when agitated.

Asperger’s syndrome interferes with social skills, but sufferers often have normal to high intelligence. Police say they found Watts armed with a knife in the basement of his parents’ home, the Chicago Sun-Times reports. When one officer sustained a defensive wound to his left forearm, two other officers on the scene fired their weapons. Steven Watts, Stephon’s father, says his son was shot once in the leg, and then again in the head.

(Reuters) – Two men suspected of killing three people and wounding two others in Tulsa, Oklahoma, during the weekend were ordered held on bail of more than $9 million each in their first court appearance Monday morning, according to local media.

Roommates Jake England, 19, and Alvin Watts, 32, were arrested early Sunday.

Authorities are charging both men with three counts of first-degree murder, two counts of shooting with intent to kill and a single complaint of possession of a firearm while committing a felony, the Tulsa World reported on its website.

Shortly before the killings, which took place on Friday, England had lamented on his Facebook page that two years had passed since his father was killed by a black man, who he referred to with a racial slur.

The victims of the killings were black while England and Watts are white. Harris said hate crime charges would be considered if the evidence supported it.


The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, has called for an immediate investigation into the circumstances surrounding the killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. Pillay said she was shocked the gunman, George Zimmerman, was not arrested. She also expressed concern about Florida’s «Stand Your Ground» law, which allows the use of deadly force in situations where there is a belief of a threat.


Trayvon Martin’s family wants federal scrutiny of the case to extend to the actions of a state prosecutor who declined to press charges

By Michael Vasquez
mrvasquez@MiamiHerald.com

The former prosecutor assigned to the Trayvon Martin case participated in a “suspicious” meeting with police on the night of the disputed shooting, Martin’s family alleged on Monday.

In a letter sent to sent to the U.S. Department of Justice — which is already reviewing Trayvon’s Feb. 26 death — Martin family attorney Benjamin Crump accused State Attorney Norm Wolfinger of holding a meeting with Sanford Police Chief Bill Lee just hours after Martin had been killed. It was in that meeting, Crump wrote, that the two men “disregarded the lead homicide investigator’s recommendation to arrest George Zimmerman for manslaughter.”

Wolfinger’s response to this new allegation was fast and forceful: the prosecutor insisted that “no such meeting or communication occurred,” and he blasted the Martin family’s letter as “outright lies.”

“I have been encouraging those spreading the irresponsible rhetoric to stop,” Wolfinger said in a written statement.

Crump also addressed an police surveillance videotape of Zimmerman arriving at the Sanford Police station – a video that ABC News said it enhanced for improved quality. The enhanced video shows what appear to be injuries to the back of Zimmerman’s head.

Even if Zimmerman was injured in a scuffle with Trayvon, “is that enough to justify killing an unarmed teen?” Crump said.

Prior to Monday’s letter by the Martin family, the Department of Justice had already started an investigation into Trayvon’s death. But this new letter revealed the family wants federal scrutiny to extend beyond the circumstances of the teen’s death, and into the actions of Wolfinger, who two weeks ago recused himself from the case.

In the early aftermath of the shooting, Sanford’s Police Chief Bill Lee defended Zimmerman’s actions, but it has become clear in recent days that Sanford investigators closer to the ground wanted to press charges.

Crump, the Martin family attorney, wrote in Monday’s letter that the lead homicide investigator in the case, Chris Serino, has in fact signed an affidavit documenting his opinion that Zimmerman should be arrested on manslaughter charges.


Trayvon, of Miami Gardens, was visiting his father’s girlfriend, who lives in the Retreat at Twin Lakes gated community, a newer, multi-ethnic development about five miles away from the old historic part of town.
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A man alleged to have lured two US volunteer firefighters to their deaths in Webster, New York left a long note outlining his plans, police say.

No motive was given but the note left by William Spengler, identified as the gunman said he was planning to "do what I like doing best - killing people."



Police searching Spengler's burnt-out house say they have found human remains - believed to be those of his sister.

The firefighters were shot dead as they arrived to tackle a fire on Monday.

At a news conference on Tuesday, police said Spengler, 62, had three guns and aimed to burn down his neighborhood.


William Spengler spent 17 years in prison for killing his grandmother
Seven homes on a narrow stretch of land beside Lake Ontario were destroyed by the fire. Another two firemen and an off-duty police officer were wounded in the attack.

Police Chief Gerald Pickering told reporters that Spengler, who apparently shot himself in the head, had used a .38 calibre revolver, a 12-gauge shotgun and a Bushmaster .223 calibre rifle with flash suppression.

The same make and calibre rifle had been used in the murder of 26 teachers and children at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut on 14 December, he said.

The police chief told reporters in Webster that a two- to three-page note from the gunman had been found in which he said: "I still have to get ready to see how much of the neighbourhood I can burn down and do what I like doing best - killing people."

At a later briefing, Mr Pickering said human remains were found in the house Spengler shared with his 67-year-old sister, Cheryl.

Police believe the remains are hers.

Spengler and his sister lived with their mother until her death in October.

'Clear ambush'
Spengler had served 17 years in jail for killing his grandmother with a hammer but had done nothing to attract the authorities' attention since being granted parole in 1998.


As a convicted criminal, he was not allowed to own weapons.

Police said he appeared to have set "a trap" by setting fire to his home. His older sister, Cheryl, whom he reportedly hated, is missing.

Two of the firefighters who responded to the call, Tomasz Kaczowka, 19, and Mike Chiapperini, aged 43, were shot dead in what was described as a "clear ambush" on emergency services.

Their two wounded colleagues are said to be in a stable condition with gunshot wounds.

The off-duty police officer, who was also shot and wounded as he came to their aid, was praised by the police chief for saving people's lives.

Gerald Pickering cited "mental health issues" as a possible factor for the attack, which came months after the death of Spengler's mother.

The Newtown killer, Adam Lanza, killed his mother with her own guns before launching his attack on Sandy Hook elementary school in Connecticut.

His murders of 20 children aged six and seven have prompted a national debate on gun ownership and mental health.

"It's sad to see that that this is becoming more commonplace in communities across the nation," Monroe County Sheriff Patrick O'Flynn told AP news agency after the attack in New York state




Two volunteer firefighters have been shot dead and two injured while responding to an emergency call in the town of Webster in New York state.



It appears the four were fired upon as they arrived at the scene of a fire early on Monday morning.

The blaze broke out just before 06:00 local time (11:00 GMT) and the shooting reportedly prevented firefighters putting it out for several hours.

A gunman has been found dead at the scene, local police say.

"Upon arrival of the first... engine company and some firefighters in their personal vehicles, they underwent gunfire from a location unknown," Webster's Fire Marshal Rob Boutillier told reporters.

The two dead firefighters were named by police as Tomasz Kaczowka and Mike Chiapperini.

An off-duty policeman who was driving by the scene at the time received shrapnel wounds and was also being treated, Webster Police Chief Gerald Pickering told reporters.

Police spokesmen said the area was "an active crime scene" but that no more shooters were believed to be present.

'Senseless act'
Police teams moved in to evacuate residents after the shooting.

Firefighters were then able to return to the scene and are now tackling the blaze.


"All of our thoughts and prayers go to the families and friends of those who were killed in this senseless act of violence," New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said in a statement.

"The contributions made by the fallen and injured officers in Webster will never be forgotten," New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said.

"As this investigation unfolds, we stand with our partners in law enforcement to ensure that lethal weapons are out of the hands of dangerous people, so that the brave New Yorkers who risk their lives every day to protect us are not exposed to additional danger," he added.

Also on Monday, a policeman was shot dead in the city of Houston, Texas after the driver of a car he pulled over opened fire on him.

The debate on gun violence in the US was rekindled earlier this month by the shootings at a school in Newtown, Connecticut, which left 20 children and six adults dead at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

It was one of the worst mass shootings in American history.

"There's a heightened awareness to this kind of violence in light of what happened in Connecticut," said Maggie Brooks, leader of the local administration in Monroe County, the area which includes Webster.

"We have first responders and we have families who are in pain and crisis today and we need to, as a community, keep them in our thoughts and prayers," Mrs Brooks said, adding that it was a "very, very difficult day".

President Obama has promised to push for action on gun control while the National Rifle Association (NRA) has called for armed security in all American schools.



source: ThinkProgress

Immediately after the suicide of Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher, who police say murdered his girlfriend at their home before driving to the Chiefs’ practice facility and shooting himself in front of the team’s coach and general manager, thoughts turned to the role concussions and brain injuries may have played in the tragedy.
But during halftime of last night’s Sunday Night Football broadcast, NBC’s Bob Costas brought up another angle: the role guns, and our nation’s lax gun laws, played in the tragedy. After a brief introduction, Costas quoted Kansas City-based columnist Jason Whitlock, who wrote yesterday that he believed both Belcher and his girlfriend, Kasandra Perkins, would be alive today were it not for Belcher’s possession of a gun




Thomas "Tres" Caffall, the man who police say killed two people--including a Texas constable--in a shooting near the Texas A&M University campus on Monday was a "ticking time bomb," his stepfather says.
"He was crazy as hell," Richard Weaver, Caffall's stepfather, told KPRC-TV. "At one point, we were afraid that he was going to come up here and do something to his mother and me."
Caffall, 35, opened fire as the Brazos County constable, Brian Bachmann, was attempting to serve him an eviction notice, College Station police said. Officers responded to the off-campus house shortly after noon following reports of shots fired, and found the 41-year-old Bachmann on the ground.
Caffall was shot during what police described as a 30-minute "gun battle." Bachmann and Caffall were taken to College Station Medical Center, where they were pronounced dead.




Wed Aug 8, 2012 12:22am EDT


Scott Smith was likely trying to emulate the horrific Colorado shootings when he brought a gun, extra ammo, and several knives to a late night showing of The Dark Knight Rises. Luckily his performance was cut short when an observant manager and a security guard noticed him.

Off-duty Officer Jeremiah Bullins, that night's security guard, approached Smith in the Crocker Park, Ohio theater where he was sitting and asked to check his bag. Smith complied which is when Bullins saw the weaponry.

Smith was charged with crimes related to carrying the weapons, especially given his personal status.

Prosecutors are charging Smith with carrying a weapon under disability, reports WKYC. The claim is that his prescription medications prevent him from owning firearms under any circumstances.

If proven, Smith will be in trouble for owning the weapons, never mind carrying them into a theater.

But that's not the only charge against him. Smith is also charged with carrying a concealed weapon.

Ohio, like many states, has laws requiring gun owners to get a special permit to carry a concealed weapon. Even if Smith turns out to be a lawful gun owner, it does not appear that he has a permit to carry concealed weapons.

For states that require a permit for concealed weapons, any gun owner who does not have a permit must keep their guns in view at all times while carrying them in public. Several states ban concealed weapons entirely.

Theater personnel have been on high alert since James Holmes gunned-down movie goers last month. Scott Smith's foiled attempt is evidence that their efforts are not in vain.


(Reuters) - The white supremacist gunman who killed six people at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head, the FBI said on Wednesday.

A police officer shot and wounded the gunman, Wade Page, 40, in the stomach outside the temple in Oak Creek on Sunday, said Teresa Carlson, an FBI special agent in charge.

"Subsequent to that wound, it appears that Page died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head," she told a news conference.

Police had said Page had been shot to death by an officer responding to the attack at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin in suburban Milwaukee.

Carlson said she had seen a video of the police officer wounding Page with a squad rifle. "It's an amazing shot, and thank goodness," she said.

Federal authorities have said they are treating the attack as a possible act of domestic terrorism. Page, an Army veteran, was a musician who played in white power punk-metal bands. He was armed with a 9mm handgun during the attack.

Turban-wearing Sikhs are often mistaken for Muslims in the United States. The Sikh faith was founded in the Punjab area of India and Pakistan and has an estimated 500,000 or more adherents in the United States.

President Barack Obama called Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to express his condolences over the temple shooting.

Carlson said investigators had not found any motive for the attack, which also wounded four people, including a police officer shot eight or nine times after responding to a 911 call.

The wounded officer, Lieutenant Brian Murphy, is up and walking, Carlson said.

Investigators have conducted more than 100 interviews with Page's relatives, employers and associates, Carlson said. They are also following 101 leads worldwide and have issued 180 federal grand jury subpoenas.

Police have arrested Page's former girlfriend, Misty Cook, on a weapons charge. Carlson said the arrest took place at Cook's Milwaukee home late on Sunday and was unrelated to the shooting investigation.

Police said on Tuesday that a charge of being a felon in possession of a firearm would be sought against Cook, 31. [ID:nL2E8J80OC] (Additional reporting by Paul Thomasch; writing by Ian Simpson; editing by Vicki Allen and Mohammad Zargham)



The White House gave a cool welcome on Monday to Democratic legislation that wouldeffectively ban online or mail-order purchases of ammunition in the aftermath of the mass shooting at an Aurora, Colorado, movie theater.
"I haven't seen the specific piece of legislation that has been offered up today," spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters at the daily press briefing. "But as that and other pieces of legislation make their way through the legislative process, we'll evaluate them."
The proposal, crafted by Democratic Senator Frank Lautenberg and Democratic Representative Carolyn McCarthy, aims to restrict the ability of Americans to buy unlimited quantities of ammunition over the Internet, or by mail order, anonymously.
President Barack Obama has called for a common sense response to the slaughter in Aurora. But the White House has played down his appetite for new legislation as opposed to tightening or toughening existing measures—such as background checks—to keep firearms out of the hands of criminals or the mentally ill. And the president has underlined his support for the Second Amendment to the Constitution.
"He believes in the second amendment of the constitution, in the right to bear arms," Earnest said again Monday.  "But he also believes that we should take robust steps, within existing law, to ensure that guns don't fall in the hands of criminals or others who shouldn't have them.
The new legislation, dubbed the Stop Online Ammunition Sales Act,  rests on four pillars, according to Lautenberg's office:
It requires anyone selling ammunition to be a licensed dealer.
It requires ammunition buyers who are not licensed dealers to present photo identification at the time of purchase, effectively banning the online or mail order purchase of ammo by regular civilians.
It requires licensed ammunition dealers to maintain records of the sale of ammunition.
It requires licensed ammunition dealers to report the sale of more than 1,000 rounds of ammunition to an unlicensed person within any five consecutive business days.



Violent crime dropped in 2011, preliminary figures released by the Federal Bureau of Investigation on Monday show.
According to the FBI's "Preliminary Annual Uniform Crime Report," violent crimes fell 4 percent nationwide, part of a decade-plus decline in that category.
Murder was down about 2 percent, according to the FBI, while forcible rape, robbery and aggravated assault all fell 4.0 percent when compared to 2010. But in towns with populations of less than 10,000, there was an 18.3 percent increase in murder in 2011. There was also a 0.6 percent increase in murder in the Midwest.
The FBI did not give reasons for the trends.
Property crimes declined about 1 percent. Arsonwhich is considered a property crime though counted separatelyfell 5 percent, the FBI said. The only overall rise in property crimes was burglary, which was up marginally.
Data for the report is collected by the bureau from participating state and federal law enforcement agencies. Final figures will be published this fall.





Gun sales in Colorado have spiked since last week's massacre, The Denver Post reports.
Background checks jumped more than 41 percent since Friday's shooting that left 12 dead and 58 injured during a midnight screening of "The Dark Knight Rises" at an Aurora movie theater. Over the weekend, the Colorado Bureau of Investigation approved background checks for 2,887 people who wanted to purchase a firearm, the Post said, an increase of 43 percent over the previous weekend.
"It's been insane," Jake Meyers, an employee at Rocky Mountain Guns and Ammo in Parker, Colo., told the paper.
Spikes in gun sales are not uncommon in the aftermath of mass shootings like the one in Colorado. Following the January 2011 shooting that killed six and wounded more than a dozen others—including former Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords—in Tucson, sales of handguns soared more than 60 percent in the state, according to FBI data. Similar spikes were seen after the massacres at Virginia Tech and Columbine.

Some of those seeking to buy guns in Colorado over the weekend said they were seeking to arm themselves for protection in the wake of the shooting, according to the report. But many were likely fearful of a change in gun laws. Democratic state Rep. Rhonda Fields of Aurora told the paper she wants Congress to reinstate a ban on assault weapons.
"When something like this happens people get worried that the government is going to ban stuff," Greg Wolff, an Arizona gun shop owner, told Bloomberg.com after the rampage in Tucson.
They also get worried when a Democrat is about to take office. Before President Barack Obama's 2008 election, there was a spike in gun sales, and gun shop owners and manufacturers have reported similarly brisk buying in 2012.
"It's definitely the election year," Jason Hanson, a former CIA officer, told Fox News in March. "People feel that Obama will serve second term and with it their gun rights with taken away, so they are stocking up."

In December, the FBI reported a record number of background checks—1,534,414—sent by gun dealers. "Almost half a million checks were done in just the last six days before Christmas," according to CNN. In 2010, the FBI's National Instant Criminal Background Check System received more than 14 million requests, more than in any other year.
James Holmes, the suspected shooter in Friday's massacre, was found with a military-style AR-15 assault rifle, two Glock .40-caliber pistols and a Remington 12-gauge shotgun when he was arrested outside the theater in Aurora. And like Jared Loughner, the accused killer in the Tucson massacre, Holmes purchased the guns legally.






CREDO Action | more than a network, a movement.
Dear Friend,
The shock and trauma from the images and stories from Aurora are still very much with us, and it is impossible to put into words the pain being felt by families and friends of the victims.
But that doesn't mean we shouldn't speak out. In the wake of this massacre, it's time to put aside politics and reinstate the federal ban on assault weapons.
After the news broke last Friday, President Barack Obama said that "there are going to be other days for politics, this I think is a day for prayer and reflection." Governor Mitt Romney said, "I stand before you today not as a man running for office, but as a father and grandfather, a husband, and American."1 Both of their campaigns asked networks to pull their negative advertisements.
The gestures from the two men who are running for President were welcome steps. But, we need more than sympathetic words. We need real leadership to start to address the senseless gun violence that holds our communities hostage.
One of the principal weapons used by the shooter in the horrific Aurora massacre was an AR-15 assault rifle.2 This weapon features a magazine that holds 100 rounds of bullets, and its trigger is capable of firing 50-60 rounds per minute.3
The federal assault weapons ban which was passed in 1994, banned the sale of guns like the AR-15.4 Unfortunately, that ban expired in 2004 as a result of fierce lobbying by the NRA. It's long past time to reinstate the federal ban on assault weapons like the AR-15.
CREDO members worked to pass the federal assault weapons ban in 1994. And we fought to stop its expiration in 2004. And we continue to advocate for a federal ban on assault weapons like the AR-15 used in the Aurora massacre.
Massacres on the scale of the tragedy in Aurora happen in part because our federal gun laws make it easy for civilians to obtain military-level firepower. We need to pass and enforce sensible federal gun laws restricting ready access for civilians to assault weapons. Reinstating a strong version of the federal ban on assault weapons known as the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act is where we should start.
We're not so naïve as to think that sensible gun laws are all that's needed to stop the killings. There are many things that need to change in American culture to stop the next Aurora-like massacre. But we do know one thing we should put at the top of the list — keeping military-level assault weapons like the AR-15 with a high capacity clip out of the hands of civilians. Click below to automatically sign the petition.
r=6916339&p=obama_romney_guns&


id=43839-5154581-hC2Ah5x&t=10
Thank you for speaking out.
Becky Bond, Political Director
CREDO Action from Working Assets

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AURORA, Colo. (AP) — The University of Colorado said Sunday it was investigating whether shooting suspect James Holmes used his position as a graduate student to order materials in the potentially deadly booby traps that police said they found in his apartment.

Holmes, 24, got deliveries over four months to his home and school, authorities have said. The university is looking into what was received at the school to assist police with their investigation, said spokeswoman Jacque Montgomery.

The suspect was described as a budding scientist, brimming with potential, who pursued a graduate program even as he planned the attack with "calculation and deliberation," police said.


Investigators spent hours Saturday removing explosive materials from inside Holmes' apartment a day after police said he opened fire and set off gas canisters in a movie theater minutes into a premiere of the "The Dark Knight Rises." The massacre left 12 people dead and 58 injured.

His apartment was booby trapped with jars of liquids, explosives and chemicals that could have killed "whoever entered it," Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates said, noting it would have likely been one of his officers.

Inside the apartment, bomb technicians neutralized a "hypergolic mixture" and an improvised explosive device containing an unknown substance, said James Yacone, an FBI special agent. There also were containers of accelerants, creating "an extremely dangerous environment," he said.

Oates said on CBS' "Face the Nation" that he had never seen a booby trap as elaborate as what was found in the apartment.

By late Saturday afternoon, all hazards had been removed from the apartment and residents in surrounding buildings were allowed to return home, police said.

The exception was Holmes' apartment building, where authorities were still collecting evidence. Authorities covered the windows of Holmes' apartment with black plastic to prevent anyone from seeing in. Before they did, a man in an ATF T-shirt could be seen measuring a poster on a closet that advertised a DVD called "Soldiers of Misfortune." The poster showed several figures in various positions playing paintball, some wearing masks.

Police left the apartment building carrying a laptop computer and a hard drive about 8 p.m. Saturday.
Holmes was in solitary confinement for his protection at a Denver-area county detention facility, held without bond on suspicion of multiple counts of first-degree murder. He was set for an initial hearing on Monday and has been appointed a public defender.

President Barack Obama was scheduled to travel to Colorado on Sunday to visit with the families of victims. The city of Aurora planned a vigil to remember the dead and wounded in the shooting later in the evening.
Among the dead was a 6-year-old girl and a man who died on his 27th birthday and a day before his wedding anniversary. Families grieved and waited at hospitals, with police reporting 11 people still in critical condition as of Saturday.

While authorities continued to refuse to discuss a possible motive for one of the deadliest mass shootings in recent U.S. history, details about Holmes' background as a student and would-be scientist trickled out.
Holmes had recently withdrawn from the competitive graduate program in neuroscience at the University of Colorado Denver, where he was one of six pre-thesis Ph.D. students at its Neuroscience Program to be funded by a prestigious grant from the National Institutes of Health. The program of 35 students is dedicated to training outstanding neuroscientists and academicians who will make significant contributions to neurobiology, the university said in a statement.

In the first year of the five- to seven-year program, students take classes and complete three, three-month research rotations in the labs of different professors.

Professors who worked with him either did not return calls or declined to comment, saying police and university officials had told them not to speak to the media.

At one point in the year, Holmes was engaged in research about RNA and was to present a paper May 8 about RNA Biomarkers, according to a class schedule. It was unclear if he presented the paper.
Holmes recently took an intense, three-part oral exam that marks the end of the first year. Those who do well continue with their studies and shift to full-time research, while those who don't do well meet with advisers and discuss their options, including retaking the exam.

University officials would not say if he passed, citing privacy concerns.
The university said Holmes gave no reason for his withdrawal, a decision he made in June.
"The focus of the program is on training outstanding neuroscientists and academicians who will make significant contributions to neurobiology," the university said. The doctoral program usually takes five to seven years to complete, it said.

Holmes was not allowed access from the institution after his withdrawal, which was "standard operating procedure" because he was no longer affiliated with the school, Montgomery said. Holmes had no contact with university police, she said.

In a resume posted on Monster.com, Holmes listed himself as an "aspiring scientist" and said he was looking for a job as a laboratory technician.

The resume, first obtained in Holmes' home state of California by The Press-Enterprise in Riverside, paints a picture of a brilliant young man brimming with potential: He worked as a summer intern at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla in 2006 and mapped the neurons of Zebra finches and studied the flight muscles of hummingbirds while an undergraduate at the University of California, Riverside.

He also worked as a cabin counselor to underprivileged children at a summer camp in Los Angeles in 2008. In a statement, Camp Max Straus confirmed Holmes had worked there for eight weeks. The camp provided no other details about Holmes but said such counselors are generally responsible for the care and guidance of roughly 10 children.

Ritchie Duong, a friend who has known Holmes for more than a decade, told the Los Angeles Times that in high school he liked to play cards and video games. They both attended undergraduate school at the University of California, Riverside, where they saw each other once a week to watch the TV show "Lost."
Duong last saw Holmes in December when they met for dinner in Los Angeles and saw a movie together. His friend seemed fine, he told the newspaper.
Academics came easily to Holmes both at high school and at the UC Riverside, Duong said.
"I had one college class with him, and he didn't even have to take notes or anything. He would just show up to class, sit there, and around test time he would always get an 'A,'" said Duong, 24.
During the attack early Friday, Holmes used the military-style semiautomatic rifle, a shotgun and a pistol to open fire on the unsuspecting theater-goers, Oates said. Holmes had bought the weapons at local gun stores within the past two months. He recently purchased 6,000 rounds of ammunition over the Internet, the chief said.

The semiautomatic assault rifle used by the gunman jammed during the attack, a federal law enforcement official told The Associated Press, which forced the shooter to switch to another gun with less fire power.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to in order to discuss the investigation, said the disabled weapon had a high-capacity ammunition magazine. Police have said that a 100-round drum magazine was recovered at the scene and that such a device would be able to fire 50 to 60 rounds a minute.

Holmes also bought an urban assault vest, two magazine holders and a knife for just over $300 on July 2 from an online supplier of tactical gear for police and military personnel, according to the company.
Chad Weinman, CEO of TacticalGear.com, said his company processes thousands of orders each day, and there was nothing unusual in the one that Holmes placed.

The Batman movie, the last in the trilogy starring Christian Bale, opened worldwide Friday with midnight showings in the U.S. "The Dark Knight Rises" earned $30.6 million in the midnight screenings, and, according to industry estimates, roughly $75 million on that day as a whole. That put it on track for a weekend total of around $165 million, which would be the second-highest opening weekend ever, following "The Avengers."

The shooting was the worst in the U.S. since the Nov. 5, 2009, attack at Fort Hood, Texas. An Army psychiatrist was charged with killing 13 soldiers and civilians and wounding more than two dozen others.
Across the street from the movie theater, a man who placed 15 crosses near Columbine High School after a 1999 massacre there has returned to Colorado with 12 crosses for the victims of Friday's shooting.
Greg Zanis, of Aurora, Ill., began putting up the 3 1/2-foot-tall crosses Sunday on a hill across the street from the Century 16 theater.
___

Associated Press contributors to this report include Mead Gruver, Thomas Piepert, Kristen Wyatt, Steven K. Paulson, Ivan Moreno, P. Solomon Banda and Gillian Flaccus in Aurora; Dan Elliott, Colleen Slevin in Denver; AP Entertainment Writer Jake Coyle in New York; M.L. Johnson in Chicago; Brian Skoloff in Salt Lake City; Monika Mathur and Jennifer Farrar at News Research Center in New York; and Eileen Sullivan in Washington.




Twelve people were killed and 59 were injured in Aurora, Colo., during a sold-out midnight premier of the new Batman movie "The Dark Knight Rises" when 24-year-old James Holmes unloaded four weapons' full of ammunition into the unsuspecting crowd.
The number of casualties makes the incident the largest mass shooting in U.S. history.

Holmes, a graduate student at a nearby college with a clean arrest record, entered the movie auditorium wearing a ballistics helmet, bullet-proof vest, bullet-proof leggings, gas mask and gloves. He detonated multiple smoke bombs, and then began firing at viewers in the sold-out auditorium, police said today.

Bullets from the spree tore through the theater and into adjoining theaters, where at least one other person was struck and injured. Ten members of "The Dark Knight Rises" audience were killed in theater, while two others died later at area hospitals. Numerous patrons were in critical condition at six local hospitals, the Aurora police said this afternoon.

Holmes was apprehended within minutes of the 12:39 a.m. shooting at his car behind the theater, where police found him in full riot gear and carrying three weapons, including a AR-15 assault rifle, which can hold upwards of 100 rounds, a Remington 12 gauge shot gun, and a .40 Glock handgun. A fourth handgun was found in the vehicle. Agents from the federal bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms are tracing the weapons.

According to police sources, Holmes told the officers arresting him that he was "The Joker," referring to the villain in the second installment of the Batman movie trilogy, "The Dark Knight." He also warned police that he had booby-trapped his apartment, leading officers to evacuate the Aurora apartment building.

Police Chief Dan Oates said today that police and bomb squads have found a large number of explosive devices and trip wires at Holmes' apartment and have not yet decided how to proceed without setting off explosions.

"The pictures we have from inside the apartment are pretty disturbing considering how elaborate the apartment is booby trapped," police said outside of the apartment complex today. The "flammable and explosive" materials could have blown up Holmes' apartment building and the ones near it, police said.

The apartment complex is home exclusively to University of Colorado Medical Center students, patients, and staff members, residents tell ABC News.
Moviegoer Christopher Ramos today recalled the real-life horror of the midnight premiere of the latest Batman movie, "The Dark Knight Rises," in Aurora, Colo., as a gunman decked in riot gear set off smoke bombs and opened fire on the unsuspecting audience.

"People were running everywhere, running on top of me, like kicking me, jumping over me. And there were bodies on the ground," Ramos said. "I froze up. I was scared. I honestly thought I was going to die."

"The image in our heads is stuck in there. I still have the ticket right here and honestly, I'm never going to forget this night at all. Because it was the first time I saw something that was real. Like a real-life nightmare that was there, not dreaming of," Ramos told ABC News today.

Witnesses in the movie theater said Holmes saw smoke and heard gunshots that they thought were part of the movie until they saw Holmes standing in front of the screen, after entering from an emergency exit. Holmes methodically stalked the aisles of the theater, shooting people at random, as panicked movie-watchers in the packed auditorium tried to escape, witnesses said.

At one point the shooter exited the theater only to wait outside the doors and pick off patrons as they tried to exit, witness Jennifer Seeger told "Good Afternoon America."

"You just smelled smoke and you just kept hearing it, you just heard bam bam bam, non-stop. The gunman never had to reload. Shots just kept going, kept going, kept going," one witness told ABC News.

"I'm with coworkers and we're on the floor praying to God we don't get shot, and the gunshots continue on and on, and when the sound finally stopped, we started to get up and people were just bleeding," another theatergoer said.

The suspected shooter will face his first court appearance next week, according to district attorney Carol Chambers.

Holmes, originally of San Diego, moved to Aurora to pursue his Ph.D. at the University of Colorado medical center, living just blocks from the hospital in an apartment that police say is now laced with explosives and being searched by HazMat teams.

Federal law enforcement sources tell ABC News that Holmes bought a ticket to the movie, slipped out of the theater once it began and propped open the emergency exit before gathering his weapons and gear and coming back into the theater. Once inside, he opened fire.

A San Diego woman identifying herself as James Holmes's mother spoke briefly with ABC News this morning.

She had awoken unaware of the news of the shooting and had not been contacted by authorities. She immediately expressed concern that her son may have been involved.
"You have the right person," she said.

"I need to call the police," she added. "I need to fly out to Colorado."
The woman and her husband later released a statement saying their "hearts go out to those who involved in this tragedy and to the families and friends of those involved. We are still trying to process this information and we appreciate that people will respect our privacy."

The highly-anticipated third installment of the Batman trilogy opened to packed auditoriums around the country at midnight showings on Friday morning, and features a villain named Bane who wears a bulletproof vest and gas mask. Trailers for the movie show explosions at public events including a football game. Though many moviegoers dressed in costume to attend the opening night screening, police have made no statements about any connection between the gunman's motives and the movie.
Read More: NRA Deletes Tweet After Shooting

Police in New York have intensified security around showings of the film throughout the five boroughs today, with Police Commissioner Ray Kelley saying that "as a precaution against copycats and to raise the comfort levels among movie patrons in the wake of the horrendous shooting in Colorado, the New York City Police Department is providing coverage at theaters where the 'The Dark Knight Rises' is playing."

The Paris premiere of the movie has been cancelled in the wake of the shootings. "Warner Bros. and the filmmakers are deeply saddened to learn about this shocking incident. We extend our sincere sympathies to the families and loved ones of the victims at this tragic time," the movie's producers said in a statement.

Witnesses watching movies in theaters next to the one where the shooting took place said bullets tore through the theater walls and they heard screaming.
Read More: Obama and Romney Respond to Shooting

"The suspect throws tear gas in the air, and as the tear gas appears he started shooting," said Lamar Lane, who was watching the midnight showing of the movie with his brother. "It was very hard to breathe. I told my brother to take cover. It took awhile. I started seeing flashes and screaming, I just saw blood and people yelling and a quick glimpse of the guy who had a gas mask on. I was pushed out. There was chaos, we started running."

One witness said she saw people dropping to the ground after the gunshots began.
"We were maybe 20 or 30 minutes into the movie and all you hear, first you smell smoke, everybody thought it was fireworks or something like that, and then you just see people dropping and the gunshots are constant," witness Christ Jones told ABC's Denver affiliate KMGH. "I heard at least 20 to 30 rounds within that minute or two."
A man who talked to a couple who was inside the theater told ABC News, "They got up and they started to run through the emergency exit, and that when she turned around, she said all she saw was the guy slowly making his way up the stairs and just firing at people, just picking random people," he said. "The gunshots continued to go on and on and then after we didn't hear anything...we finally got up and there was people bleeding, there was people obviously may have been actually dead or anything, and we just ran up out of there, there was chaos everywhere."

Witnesses and victims were taken to Gateway High School for questioning.
Hundreds of police and FBI agents are involved in the investigation. A senior official who is monitoring the situation in Washington said that early guidance based on the early snapshot of this man's background indicated that this act does not appear to be linked to radical terrorism or anything related to Islamic terrorism.

Dr. Comilla Sasson, at the University of Colorado Hospital where many of the victims were taken, said they are currently operating on nine critical patients and have treated 22 in all. She called the hospital "an absolutely terrifying scene all night."

"The good news is that the 3-month-old has actually been discharged home and is in the care of their parents

In a statement, President Obama said, "Michelle and I are shocked and saddened by the horrific and tragic shooting in Colorado. Federal and local law enforcement are still responding, and my administration will do everything that we can to support the people of Aurora in this extraordinarily difficult time. We are committed to bringing whoever was responsible to justice, ensuring the safety of our people, and caring for those who have been wounded."


The American Rifleman, the official journal of the National Rifle Association, has deleted a tweet that appeared to make light of Friday's shootings in Aurora, Colo., during a midnight screening of "Dark Knight Rises."
"Good morning, shooters," the message, published at 9:20 a.m. ET on the American Rifleman's Twitter feed, read. "Happy Friday! Weekend plans?"

Not surprisingly, the tweet sparked considerable outrage, with hundreds of users--including Michael Moore and Keith Olbermann--pointing their followers to it.
The American Rifleman deleted the tweet several hours later but has yet to issue a formal apology.

It's unclear whether the tweet was intentionally insensitive, or if the magazine's tweeter was unaware of the shootings that left 12 dead and 50 wounded.
"Is there a way they wrote this without seeing the news?" Audrey Wauchope asked on Twitter.

"This is what happens when you don't read the news," the Columbia Journalism Review said.

In a statement to CNN, a spokesman for the NRA said that "a single individual, unaware of events in Colorado, tweeted a comment that is being completely taken out of context."

The NRA wasn't alone in appearing insensitive to the tragedy.

CelebBoutique.com--"the online boutique loved by your fave celebs"--took the "Aurora" trending topic as an opportunity to promote its Kim Kardashian-inspired dress


Violence like the massacre that happened in Aurora, Colo., today is a staple of action films, including Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy. A similar, now haunting, scene unfurls in "The Dark Knight Rises" when a masked villain leads a violent gang into a packed football stadium and deploys guns and explosives on the unsuspecting crowd.

While there has been no indication as to the motives of James Holmes, the suspected 24-year-old shooter who is now in custody, new evidence suggests that he was inspired by the Batman series of comic books and/or movies.

Law enforcement sources confirmed to ABC News that Holmes said "I am the Joker" when apprehended by authorities. His hair was painted red, the same hair color of Heath Ledger's Joker at one point in 2008's "The Dark Knight."

There are more parallels. In Frank Miller's iconic 1986 comic book series, "The Dark Knight Returns," the Joker murders a television studio audience by deploying "smile gas." Holmes began his massacre by setting off smoke bombs throughout the theater.

In the same book, Arnold Crimp, a disturbed man who just lost his job, pulls out a handgun in an adult film theater and kills three people. A scene from the strip shows a news anchor saying, "Three slain in Batman-inspired porn theater shoot-out."

Seventy-one people were shot during today's early morning massacre; 12 have died.


Christopher Irving, author of "Leaping Tall Buildings: The Origins of American Comics," cautioned against blaming an iconic, fictional character for today's tragedy.

"There have been thousands of Batman stories published, and I don't think pinning a specific comic book story to the tragic happenings as an inspiration is fair, or likely anything beyond a sad coincidence," he said.





Texas ‘stand your ground’ shooter headed to prison

A Texas man convicted of shooting and killing his unarmed neighbor during a dispute over loud music received a 40-year prison sentence on Wednesday.
Raul Rodriguez, 47, faced a minimum of five years and a maximum of life in prison.  He claimed he shot schoolteacher Kelly Danaher in self-defense under Texas' version of the "stand your ground" law.
But prosecutors argued Rodriguez provoked the incident by confronting Danaher, 36, and his friends with a handgun and demanding they quiet down at a late-night birthday party in May 2010.
The Houston case captured more attention in the wake of Trayvon Martin's death in Florida. There, George Zimmerman says he was being attacked and cited the state's "stand your ground" law after shooting the unarmed teen. But prosecutors charged him with second-degree murder.
Two dozen states reportedly now allow citizens to stand their ground even outside their home. The specifics vary by state, but generally justify a person not retreating and using deadly force when a threat is perceived.
As in Florida, Texas law includes public areas, "if a person has a right to be present at a location where force is used."
But veteran attorney Andy Drumheller told Yahoo News that the Houston jury appeared to draw a line with Rodriguez leaving his home and going down the street.
"The law is not designed to create this bubble that you can carry with you everywhere you go," said Drumheller, a former prosecutor now practicing criminal defense in Houston. "The jury's verdict is a cautionary statement on the limits of this defense."
The Rodriguez case is also unique because the former firefighter was recording video during much of the ordeal.
Rodriguez, who had been calling police about the loud party, dialed 911 again as both sides shouted at each other near Danaher's dark driveway.
"Tell you what, pal, you just pulled a gun on the wrong [expletive], OK?" one of the partygoers is heard telling Rodriguez on the home video.
Seconds later the partygoer warns, "When I go in that house and I come back, don't think I won't be equal to you, baby."
Rodriguez, who told police he suspected the men were drunk, tells the 911 operator that he's scared and will defend himself, if needed.
"I don't want to do this, and it all started over them playing their music real loud … it's about to get out of hand, Sir. Please help me. "
Seconds later, he says, "I'm standing my ground here, now these people are going to try and kill me."
The video is dark when Danaher and two other men apparently lunged toward him, laughing loudly. Rodriguez fired his gun, killing Danaher and injuring two others.
In lobbying jurors for a lenient sentence, defense attorney Bill Stradley blamed the tragedy on his client's misunderstanding of the state's "stand your ground" law. Something he predicts will happen with other Texas gun owners in the future.
"And they will find themselves, like Raul Rodriguez, charged with murder," said Stradley, according to the Houston Chronicle.
"Raul believed he had a right to be where he was. But he had two seconds to make that call, to pull that trigger."

Death sentence handed down in Tucson against Shawna Forde, a resident of Washington State who headed the Minutemen American Defense group. She was convicted Feb. 14 of first-degree murder for orchestrating the killings of Brisenia and Raul Junior Flores of Arivaca, Ariz., a small community just north of the Mexican border.

“I think that the nation as a whole sees us as the wild, wild West, that things like that are going to be OK with us,” says Angie Thomas, who sat on the jury. “And they’re not.”

The case has drawn back the curtain to reveal the dark side of the debate raging in Arizona over illegal immigration.

Ms. Thomas and fellow jurors were told during the trial that Ms. Forde and accomplices gained entry to the Flores home with the expectation of finding drugs there, which could be sold to finance Minutemen American Defense's border-control operations. Finding no drugs, the intruders made away with inexpensive jewelry but, prosecutors said, not before fatally shooting young Brisenia and Mr. Flores. Both victims were American citizens born in the US.

“I see Shawna Forde as someone who would have liked to have been the face of a movement,” Thomas says.

Arriving at the death sentence was difficult, Thomas says, but it was aided by a picture of Brisenia presented during trial that was etched in her mind: “A little girl, with bright red fingernails; she’s wearing a white T-shirt and turquoise-colored pajama bottoms. She’s on a love seat. It’s a perfect, innocent picture until you realize that half of her face has been blown off.”

Brisenia’s mother and Mr. Flores’s wife, Gina Gonzalez, was wounded during the shooting but survived. She testified that her daughter was shot point-blank as the girl pleaded for her life.


The 9/11 terrorist attacks and the lawlessness that followed Hurricanes Katrina and Ivan left people feeling unsafe. Prodded by the National Rifle Association, under its first female president Marion Hammer, Florida launched the "stand your ground" movement in 2005.

The fatal encounter between a 17-year-old black teenager and a mixed-race neighborhood watch volunteer has created a furor over "stand your ground" laws, which have been enacted in more than 20 states; legislation is pending in others. That Florida, the epicenter of the Trayvon Martin-George Zimmerman case, was the first to pass the law in 2005 adds to the debate. But for George Zimmerman, this defense might not even apply, according to some legal experts.

Regardless, the case has led to legislators second-guessing the law—including the men who sponsored and signed the Florida bill, and major businesses are backpedaling from a lobby group that has helped promote the defense.

Is "stand your ground" actually relevant to George Zimmerman? In terms of legal defense, maybe not. "Stand your ground" is an expansion on the so-called Castle Doctrine, the right to defend one's homestead. Instead of defending yourself on your own personal property, though, "stand your ground" lets you carry that immunity into public property, which can include places of business, like a bar.

I don't think based upon Zimmerman's explanation to the police that he has a valid Stand Your Ground claim. He's not saying that he was assaulted frontally and then made a decision not to retreat because he thought he had to use deadly force.

He's basically saying old-fashioned self-defense: I was struck, I was knocked down, I was on the ground, and I had to physically defend myself. There's nothing added to his claim by the Stand Your Ground law, and I would love to have legislatures around the country look at it and say, you know, this worked for 220 years and we don't need to add anything to it. If you've got a right of self-defense, great. And if you don't have a right to defend yourself, if you think it's OK to shoot somebody because their dog pooped on your lawn, then we don't agree with that, and it's a crime. (Former assistant state attorney (Florida) Abe Laser, April 12, "Talk of the Nation," NPR)

Supporters such as former Republican senator Durell Peaden and Rep. Dennis Baxley, who co-sponsored the bill, or former Florida governor Jeb Bush, who signed the bill into law, have said Zimmerman lost his right to this defense when he sought out Martin. Bush stated that "Stand your ground means stand your ground. It doesn't mean chase after somebody who's turned their back."

But since the law may be confusing to enforcement—the controversy blew up when Sanford police declined to make an arrest—it has bolstered critics ranging from State Senator Chris Smith of Fort Lauderdale to New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg to call for widespread reform.

Who makes the decision? Rather than ask how relevant "stand your ground" is in the Martin-Zimmerman case, the real question may be who makes the decisions in the first place. The Sanford city manager claimed that the law "prohibited" police from making an arrest. Should police make the arrest and leave it to the district attorney to bring charges, as would happen in self-defense cases? Should such cases appear before a judge? Does a jury make the call?






The mother of a 15-year-old boy with autism who was fatally shot by police in his home Wednesday is facing off with suburban Chicago police officers who say the officer acted appropriately.

Stephon Watts, 15, who was diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome when he was 9, had had 10 previous interactions with Calumet City, Ill. police in the last two years, including at least one where police discharged Tasers to subdue him, the Chicago Tribune reports. Watts' father called the police Wednesday after arguing with his son, who didn't want to go to school, having been instructed by social workers that Watts should be handled by authorities when agitated.

Asperger's syndrome interferes with social skills, but sufferers often have normal to high intelligence. Police say they found Watts armed with a knife in the basement of his parents' home, the Chicago Sun-Times reports. When one officer sustained a defensive wound to his left forearm, two other officers on the scene fired their weapons. Steven Watts, Stephon's father, says his son was shot once in the leg, and then again in the head.




(Reuters) - Two men suspected of killing three people and wounding two others in Tulsa, Oklahoma, during the weekend were ordered held on bail of more than $9 million each in their first court appearance Monday morning, according to local media.

Roommates Jake England, 19, and Alvin Watts, 32, were arrested early Sunday.

Authorities are charging both men with three counts of first-degree murder, two counts of shooting with intent to kill and a single complaint of possession of a firearm while committing a felony, the Tulsa World reported on its website.

Shortly before the killings, which took place on Friday, England had lamented on his Facebook page that two years had passed since his father was killed by a black man, who he referred to with a racial slur.

The victims of the killings were black while England and Watts are white. Harris said hate crime charges would be considered if the evidence supported it.


The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, has called for an immediate investigation into the circumstances surrounding the killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. Pillay said she was shocked the gunman, George Zimmerman, was not arrested. She also expressed concern about Florida’s "Stand Your Ground" law, which allows the use of deadly force in situations where there is a belief of a threat.



Trayvon Martin’s family wants federal scrutiny of the case to extend to the actions of a state prosecutor who declined to press charges

By Michael Vasquez
mrvasquez@MiamiHerald.com

The former prosecutor assigned to the Trayvon Martin case participated in a “suspicious” meeting with police on the night of the disputed shooting, Martin’s family alleged on Monday.

In a letter sent to sent to the U.S. Department of Justice — which is already reviewing Trayvon’s Feb. 26 death — Martin family attorney Benjamin Crump accused State Attorney Norm Wolfinger of holding a meeting with Sanford Police Chief Bill Lee just hours after Martin had been killed. It was in that meeting, Crump wrote, that the two men “disregarded the lead homicide investigator’s recommendation to arrest George Zimmerman for manslaughter.”

Wolfinger’s response to this new allegation was fast and forceful: the prosecutor insisted that “no such meeting or communication occurred,” and he blasted the Martin family’s letter as “outright lies.”

“I have been encouraging those spreading the irresponsible rhetoric to stop,” Wolfinger said in a written statement.

Crump also addressed an police surveillance videotape of Zimmerman arriving at the Sanford Police station - a video that ABC News said it enhanced for improved quality. The enhanced video shows what appear to be injuries to the back of Zimmerman’s head.

Even if Zimmerman was injured in a scuffle with Trayvon, “is that enough to justify killing an unarmed teen?” Crump said.

Prior to Monday’s letter by the Martin family, the Department of Justice had already started an investigation into Trayvon’s death. But this new letter revealed the family wants federal scrutiny to extend beyond the circumstances of the teen’s death, and into the actions of Wolfinger, who two weeks ago recused himself from the case.

In the early aftermath of the shooting, Sanford’s Police Chief Bill Lee defended Zimmerman’s actions, but it has become clear in recent days that Sanford investigators closer to the ground wanted to press charges.

Crump, the Martin family attorney, wrote in Monday’s letter that the lead homicide investigator in the case, Chris Serino, has in fact signed an affidavit documenting his opinion that Zimmerman should be arrested on manslaughter charges.







Trayvon, of Miami Gardens, was visiting his father’s girlfriend, who lives in the Retreat at Twin Lakes gated community, a newer, multi-ethnic development about five miles away from the old historic part of town.

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/03/26/2730089/sanfords-image-take-a-blow-against.html#moreb#storylink=cpy

YouTube comments:

  • They already said he DID NOT live there. He had jumped the fence. Call me what you will but what I say is right. If a race war breaks out you will be hiding just as cowards do. Sit around on a computer talking shit and then it happens. People killing people all around you, where would you go and what would you do? I found a woman that 2 black guys stabbed, beat and set on fire. That didn't make national headlines because she was? WHITE. MENTAL MIDGET would better describe you. Uninformed as well
  • If you attack someone chances are you? will be shot. SHUT UP and stop trying to cause more shit by calling out the white race. Where will you be if they start a race war? hiding somewhere blaming the white race begging someone to protect you. News flash smartass. If you are white the blacks will be trying to kill you as well. GOOD GOD get a brain
  • If they are suspected of breaking the law by trespassing it is not called stalking you idiot. You do realized that? treyvon stood 6' 3"? That is not a little guy. At least know something of what you are talking about BEFORE attacking people on here. Don't make yourself look any dumber than you are on certain subjects. Defending someone that was breaking the law and attacking a person watching over other peoples property means you get shot. THAT'S THE BOTTOM LINE






Even if Treyvon fought to defend himself he? is still on the right.

Tensions between police in Sanford, Fla., and the black community were already strained before the shooting of Trayvon Martin.








Calls to 911

"It's easy to label this as an act of white racism, but it's really an act of stereotyping, which many groups are capable of and it is occurring in the context of extraordinarily permissive laws," said Manuel Pastor, a professor of American studies and ethnicity at the University of Southern California.

On Twitter, there was genuine confusion about Zimmerman's race. Is he Latino or white? Is Hispanic a race, or not? Shouldn't he, a Latino, have known better than to engage in racial profiling? Might he be Jewish, based on his last name? Many said his Hispanic lineage had nothing to do with the fact that the justice system had failed Martin, while some said Zimmerman's identity was very important.

"I'm actually happy that George Zimmerman is Hispanic so the usual white people are all guilty by virtue of their skin color stuff won't work," said a March 22 tweet by John Hawkins, who described himself as a professional blogger at Right Wing News.

Hispanic people can be black, white, Asian or mixed. Some 18 million Latinos checked the "some other race" category on their 2010 Census forms – which admonished in bold letters that Hispanic is not a race. So many Hispanics identified themselves as white, the overall number of white people in the United States increased.

"We sit in this in between place in the United States. In the U.S., when we think about race, it's usually black and white. ... Latinos complicate that dichotomy," said Cynthia Duarte, associate director of research for the Institute of Latino Studies at Notre Dame.

On voter registration forms, George Zimmerman identified himself as Hispanic, as did his mother. His father, Robert, listed himself as white on voter registration forms. Zimmerman's mother, Gladys, is originally from Peru.

Ethnicities in Peru run the gamut. Descendants of the original people or Amerindians of Peru, those who were under rule of the Inca empire, are the largest ethnic group, followed by those who are a mix of Spanish and Amerindian ancestry, also known as mestizos. Whites are about 15 percent of the population, followed by blacks, Asians and other groups. Class distinctions based on race and language persist in Peru, with whites at the top of the societal hierarchy and indigenous people often at the bottom, a vestige of Spanish colonialism.

Neither Zimmerman nor his family members were available to comment about their family history. Beyond what's in the police report, Zimmerman has yet to give his side of what happened the night of Feb. 26, when he called police to say he was following a "suspicious" person he believed was on drugs, while Martin, wearing a hooded sweat shirt, walked through the gated Sanford, Fla., townhome community where Zimmerman lives. Police have not charged Zimmerman, who told them he shot Martin in self-defense, something considered justified homicide under Florida's "stand your ground law."

George Zimmerman's father, Robert Zimmerman, appeared on an Orlando-area news broadcast to defend his son, and told a reporter that Trayvon Martin said to his son: "you're going to die tonight."


Zimmerman's father outlined the scuffle that was part of Zimmerman's report to the police, which was made public yesterday. The threat the elder Zimmerman attributes to Martin did not appear in that report.

Zimmerman told police that on the night of the shooting that a fight began after Martin sucker-punched him, climbed on top of him, and repeatedly banged his head into the ground.

"After nearly a minute of being beaten, George was trying to get his head off the concrete, trying to move with Trayvon on him into the grass. In doing so, his firearm was shown. Trayvon Martin said something to the effect of 'you're going to die now or you're going to die tonight,' something to that effect. He continued to beat George and at some point, George pulled his pistol and did what he did."

According to Tampa Bay Fox affiliate WTVT-TV, what the witness says he saw could bolster Zimmerman’s claim that he shot Martin in self-defense:

“The guy on the bottom who had a red sweater on was yelling to me: ‘help, help…and I told him to stop and I was calling 911,” he said.

Trayvon Martin was in a hoodie; Zimmerman was in red.

The witness only wanted to be identified as “John,” and didn’t not want to be shown on camera.

His statements to police were instrumental, because police backed up Zimmerman’s claims, saying those screams on the 911 call are those of Zimmerman.

“When I got upstairs and looked down, the guy who was on top beating up the other guy, was the one laying in the grass, and I believe he was dead at that point,” John said.

On Friday night, Zimmerman attorney Craig Sonner appeared on CNN’s “Anderson Cooper 360” and said he client sustained a broken nose and a head laceration on the night of the incident.

“His nose was broken, he sustained injury to his nose and on the back of his head he sustained a cut that was serious enough that probably should have had stitches…it was an injury that was done by Trayvon Martin,” Sonner said.

When police approached Trayvon's body on the grassy path between the townhouse back porches, they found no I.D. on him. Police ran his fingerprints, but found no record that would help identify him.

When he didn't return back to the townhouse, there would be another 12 hours before Tracy Martin found out his son was dead.

"I started making calls to see if he was arrested," he said.

Calls to 911 led him to missing persons, where he left a description of his son. Soon a marked patrol car followed by detectives arrived at Green's rented townhouse.

"It was drizzling a bit, I said, 'lets go in the house.' He [the detective] pulled out a card and said he was from major crimes. Then he said he wasn't sure, he had sketchy details, but there was an altercation, and Trayvon was shot once in the chest."

The special prosecutor in the Trayvon Martin case said that the Sanford Police Department asked the state attorney's office for an arrest warrant to charge George Zimmerman early in the investigation, but the state's attorney's office decided to wait.

The Miami Herald reported that the local police initially went to the Seminole State Attorney with a request to file charges and the police report labeled the case as "homicide/negligent manslaughter."

"The state attorney impaneled a grand jury, but before anything else could be done, the governor stepped in and asked us to pick it up in mid-stream," Angela Corey, the special prosecutor on the case said.

Chris Serino, the lead detective on the case, expressed doubts around Zimmerman's account of the shooting, according to ABC News. Serino filed an affidavit on the night of the shooting in which he said that he was unconvinced of Zimmerman's version of events.

"I never foresaw so much hate coming from the president, the Congressional Black Caucus, the NAACP," he said. "Every organization imaginable is trying to get some notoriety or profit from this some way. But there's so much hate. I've never been involved in hate and George hasn't. It's really unbelievable."

"I just hope at one point, they're willing to go beyond the hate that they have."

But Robert Zimmerman's detailing of the altercation between his son and Martin aired the same night that ABC News broadcast police surveillance video showing Zimmerman the night of the shooting which seems to contradict his son's story. A handcuffed Zimmerman is shown being led by police into the station, and he has no visible injuries or blood stains on his body.

Before George Zimmerman shot Trayvon Martin on February 26, a 911 call recorded the voice of someone screaming. Whether that person was Martin or Zimmerman -- who police say claimed he was attacked by Martin before the fatal incident -- has been an open question since the calls were released by the Sanford, Florida police department.

Also, it’s important keep in mind that all of this footage was taken after Zimmerman received treatment from an EMS team at the scene.

I would presume that in a fight as severe as the one described by Zimmerman, the injuries would have to be substantial. One would expect to see Zimmerman with an obviously broken nose, facial abrasions and head bandages, but we aren’t seeing any of that yet.

Much of what I’ve written has centered around the narrative that Zimmerman was in a situation where he was being pinned down and severely beaten by Trayvon Martin. Those were his statements, they have been supported by at least one witness, and especially by his voice screaming for help on 911 recordings.

If Zimmerman was not injured badly enough for it to be obvious on police station tapes, why was he screaming bloody murder on the 911 calls?

Reports from the EMS team who treated him at the crime scene and other medical personnel will be critical in deciding how injurious this attack really was, and whether Zimmerman’s reaction can be considered appropriate.

Let’s hope someone in Sanford was competent enough to have documented Zimmerman’s injuries properly.


The Orlando Sentinel consulted two voice experts to try to settle the debate
, and both came to the same conclusion: The cries could not have come from George Zimmerman.

Yesterday, the special prosecutor in the case said that police at the scene requested a warrant for Zimmerman's arrest, but were rebuffed and told to wait.



In the video, apparently taken by surveillance cameras outside and inside the police station, Zimmerman’s face and head are clearly visible and show no injuries consistent with the kind of fight Zimmerman's statement described.

Zimmerman, 28, the neighborhood watch captain at the Retreat at Twin Lakes gated community, is seen arriving in a police cruiser. He gets out of the car with his hands cuffed behind his back. Zimmerman is clean-shaven and appears several pounds lighter than in ubiquitous mug shot of him taken in 2005 when he was arrested on a charge of assaulting a police officer.

The video’s release comes amid shifting public perception of Martin, whose baby-faced image has become the face of the so-called “Trayvon Martin movement for Justice” that has captivated much of the U.S. Earlier this week, school officials in Miami released Martin’s disciplinary record, showing that he had been on a 10-day suspension when he was killed. According to reports, school officials found an empty baggy that contained marijuana residue. Meanwhile, some websites have replaced widely circulated family photos of Martin with pictures of him sporting removable gold tooth caps. Other websites have picked seemingly random photos of other youth in questionable or offensive poses and claimed that they are of Martin.

Martin’s family has called the counter-offensive an assault on Martin’s character and a “smear campaign.” Tracy Martin, the teen's father, told HuffPost earlier this week, “I refuse to let them assassinate my son’s character." He added: "The question should not be why was he suspended from school, it should be why did this man kill him in cold blood."

Zimmerman shot Martin to death the night of Feb. 26. Martin had been walking toward his father's girlfriend's house shortly after 7 p.m. and Zimmerman spotted him and called 911 to report a "suspicious" person. Zimmerman followed Martin, disregarding a police dispatcher who told him "we don't need you to do that." Police said early in the investigation that Martin noticed he was being followed, asked Zimmerman what he wanted, and a physical encounter ensued.

In the recently released police reports, Zimmerman told police he got out of his vehicle to follow Martin, but lost sight of him. As he walked back to his vehicle, Martin attacked him from behind, punched him in the nose, knocked him down and began smashing the back of his head into the sidewalk, police reports say Zimmerman told officers. During the tussle, Zimmerman pulled the 9 mm handgun he carried and shot Martin in the chest, he told police.

Lawyers for the Martin family said Zimmerman was the aggressor. The lawyers said Martin's girlfriend in Miami was on the phone with him just moments before he was killed. The girlfriend has told ABC News and family lawyers that Martin told her someone was following him. She said she heard someone ask Martin something, then what sounded like someone pushing him. The phone sounded like it was then knocked to the ground and went dead, the girl said.



The funeral director who handled Martin's funeral said there were no cuts or bruises on the teen's hands that would suggest a violent struggle or fight.

“I didn’t see any evidence he had been fighting anybody,” Richard Kurtz of Roy Mizell and Kurtz Funeral Home in Fort Lauderdale, told television talk show host Nancy Grace.

Police took Zimmerman into custody after they arrived. He was questioned and released later that night. He remains free as the Seminole County State Attorney's Office reviews the police investigation and decides whether to file charges. The U.S. Justice Department also is investigating.

Zimmerman, the 28-year-old Sanford, Fla., neighborhood watch volunteer who shot the unarmed 17-year-old Martin to death last month, was fired from a job securing illegal house parties for “being too aggressive,” according to the New York Daily News, which quoted a former colleague of Zimmerman’s. According to the co-worker, Zimmerman worked for two agencies that provided security for house parties from 2001 to 2005.

“Usually he was just a cool guy,” said the former co-worker, who the newspaper didn't name. “But it was like Jekyll and Hyde. When dude snapped, he snapped.” The Daily News said Zimmerman earned $50 to $100 a night for the parties. He was fired for being too aggressive with patrons.

“He had a temper and he became a liability,” the newspaper quoted the former co-worker as saying. “One time this woman was acting a little out of control. She was drunk. George lost his cool and totally overreacted,” he said. “It was weird, because he was such a cool guy, but he got all nuts. He picked her up and threw her. It was pure rage. She twisted her ankle. Everyone was flipping out.”



Where Zimmerman may fit within the range of Hispanic identity is another matter. Although Robert Zimmerman described his son as "Spanish speaking," it's clear from the 911 call made that night that George Zimmerman is comfortable speaking English. Some Latinos may not consider Zimmerman to be truly Latino, since only one of his parents is Hispanic.

Some Hispanics, mostly in the Southwest, will say they are Spanish to make clear they identify with Spanish explorers who came to the Americas in the 1500s. In Texas, Latino has only recently become an identifying term; Tejano, Chicano or Mexican American have been more common. Cubans, who make up a large share of Hispanics in Florida, are more likely to identify as white than Puerto Ricans, whose presence is growing in Florida.




Why didn’t the Sanford, Fla., police arrest George Zimmerman after he shot Trayvon Martin Feb. 26? That’s a question that today is more relevant than ever amid reports the lead investigator in the case thought Mr. Zimmerman should be charged with manslaughter for his actions. The investigator, Chris Serino, was unconvinced by Zimmerman’s assertion that he resorted to deadly force in self-defense, according to ABC News. Mr. Serino filed an affidavit to that effect on the night of the killing. But Serino’s superiors, in turn, were apparently unconvinced by Serino’s reasoning. They did not take Zimmerman into custody because of two words: “probable cause.” “The Sanford police said this is why they did not arrest Zimmerman: they did not have probable cause to believe that he had broken the law,” writes legal analyst Dave Kopel, research director of the Independence Institute, on the widely read legal blog The Volokh Conspiracy. Florida’ Stand Your Ground law would have been legally irrelevant to this determination, according to Mr. Kopel. Florida has other statutes that allow the use of force against a criminal attack, as do virtually all states. Zimmerman’s story has been that he was doing exactly that: defending against an assault by Martin. In his version of events, Martin knocked him down, then straddled him and pounded his head on the ground. He did not have an opportunity to retreat, he told police.
The Rev. Jesse Jackson said Friday that Martin's killing reflects "the classic struggle of our time" and said it echoes the slaying of Emmitt Till, a 14-year-old from Chicago who was murdered in 1955 while visiting Mississippi by a group of white men. No one was ever convicted, but Till's killing galvanized the civil rights movement. An Orlando criminal defense attorney who says he represents Zimmerson told CNN on Friday that his client isn't racist and the facts will show he acted in self-defense after a fight with the teen. "I don't believe that George Zimmerman's a racist or that this was motivated by a dislike for African-Americans," said Craig Sonner. Tracy Martin often recounted how his son saved his life. The elder Martin had begun heating up some oil to fry fish and fell asleep. The grease caught fire, and when Tracy Martin awoke and tried to put out the flames, he spilled the oil on his legs, severely burning himself. Trayvon Martin pulled his father out of the home and called 911. Martin's parents kept a close eye on him, but they didn't have to be too strict, since he stayed out of trouble, Collins said. However, he had recently been suspended from school for five days for tardiness, his English teacher, Michelle Kypriss, told the Orlando Sentinel. School officials did not respond to a request for comment. Martin's father was not happy and grounded the teen for the duration of the suspension. Trayvon "knew he was wrong," Horton said. Under state privacy law, only serious felonies appear on juveniles' public criminal records, and Martin did not have one. Citing the same law, Sanford police Sgt. David Morgenstern said he could neither confirm nor deny the family's statement that Martin had never gotten in legal trouble. Martin dreamed of becoming a pilot. He had flown on school vacations to various places around the country with his mother, skiing in Colorado one year, going off to Texas another. "There's no little black kids that want to be pilots," Horton joked with him when he was about 13. "Well, I'll be the first one," the teen replied.
Our son didn't deserve to die. Trayvon Martin was just 17 years old when he was shot and killed by George Zimmerman. Trayvon wasn't doing anything besides walking home with a bag of Skittles and some iced tea in his hands. What makes Trayvon’s death so much harder is knowing that the man who confessed to killing Trayvon, George Zimmerman, still hasn't been charged for Trayvon’s killing. Despite all this, we have hope. Since we started to lead a campaign on Change.org, more than 1,400,000 people -- including you -- have signed our petition calling for Florida authorities to prosecute our son’s killer. Our campaign is already starting to work. The FBI and Department of Justice announced they were investigating our son’s killing. Newspapers around the globe are reporting that it’s because of our petition. And the Sanford Police Chief even stepped aside temporarily because of pressure around his handling of the case. But our son’s killer is still free, and we need more people to speak out if we want justice for Trayvon. Can you please share our petition on Facebook and ask your friends and family to sign? Click here to share. You can also click here to email your friends and ask them to sign that way. We aren't looking for revenge, we're looking for justice -- the same justice anyone would expect if their son were shot and killed for no reason. Thank you so much for all you’ve done to support our family. - Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton
George Zimmerman was kicked out of Seminole State College today, in the wake of the Trayvon Martin shooting. "Due to the highly charged and high-profile controversy involving this student, Seminole State has taken the unusual but necessary step this week to withdraw Mr. Zimmerman from enrollment," according to a statement from the college. "This decision is based solely on our responsibility to provide for the safety of our students on campus as well as for Mr. Zimmerman." Zimmerman, 28, first enrolled at the college in 2003 and was working toward a vocational certificate to become an insurance agent. He re-enrolled in 2009 and was working toward an Associate in Arts degree in a general studies program, according to the college.

A Florida police chief criticised over the investigation into the shooting of an unarmed black teenager has announced he will temporarily step down. Bill Lee has been censured by officials in Sanford, an Orlando suburb, over the death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. Florida Governor Rick Scott, meanwhile, announced he had appointed a new prosecutor to lead the investigation. Mr Lee explained his decision at a news conference on Thursday afternoon. "It is apparent that my involvement in this matter is overshadowing the process," he said. "Therefore I have come to the decision that I must temporarily remove myself." He added: "I do this in the hope of restoring some semblance of calm to the city, which has been in turmoil for several weeks." Later on Thursday, Governor Scott announced that state attorney Norman Wolfinger would stand aside from the case. In a letter to the governor, Mr Wolfinger said his move was aimed at "toning down the rhetoric and preserving the integrity of the investigation". The governor also appointed a task force led by Lt Gov Jennifer Carroll, an African-American, to conduct hearings on the case and to make recommendations for any changes to state law. Police chief Lee's decision to stand aside comes a day after city commissioners in Sanford issued a vote of no-confidence in him. They voted 3-2 to censure the police chief, who has held his position for just 10 months. Hundreds of people attended a mass rally led by civil rights leader Reverend Al Sharpton on Thursday evening in Sanford to demand justice for the 17-year-old. Tracy Martin, the victim's father, was cheered as he told demonstrators: "The temporary step down of Bill Lee is nothing. We want an arrest, we want a conviction." Mr Martin's parents have met officials from the Department of Justice, who have launched a civil rights investigation into police conduct of the case. Nearly one million people have signed online petitions calling for justice.
When a rash of burglaries and other crimes broke out in and around a gated community in Sanford, Fla., residents wanted some form of protection. Someone raised the possibility of a neighborhood watch group. But only one resident seems to have come forward for the duties: George Zimmerman. Zimmerman, 28, is the focal point for national outrage over the fatal Feb. 26 shooting of an unarmed teen, Trayvon Martin. The 17-year-old was returning from a sugar run -- he'd bought a bag of Skittles and an iced tea at a local convenience store -- and was reportedly talking on a cellphone to his girlfriend when he crossed paths with Zimmerman. Zimmerman, meanwhile, had spotted the teen and called police to report a young black male acting suspiciously, according to phone logs. What happened next is a matter of debate, and will ultimately be up to a Seminole County grand jury to decide when it convenes next month. The teen's girlfriend said she could hear someone confronting Martin. But Zimmerman said that Martin was the aggressor -- and that he opened fire in self-defense. He was not arrested. The case has taken on racial overtones as it has captured public attention. A Florida grand jury is considering whether there is enough evidence to file charges, and the US justice department has launched a probe into the conduct of the local police investigation. However, further action could be complicated by a Florida self-defence law that allows the use of deadly force if a person "reasonably" believes they or another person are threatened with death or serious harm. A statement from Sanford City Manager Norton Bonaparte calls the death of Trayvon Martin a "tragic situation". But he emphasised that officers of the Sanford police department were "prohibited from making an arrest based on the facts and circumstances they had at the time". 'Crazy to wait' Speaking to NBC's Today programme, Tracy Martin, the victim's father, said the shooter was suspicious of his son "because he was young, black and with a hoodie".
If it was the other way around they would have arrested their son on the spot  Benjamin Crump Martin family lawyer
Appealing for Mr Zimmerman to be prosecuted, he added: "Let the courts decide, but I strongly feel that he needs to be arrested."
The statement from Trayvon Martin's parents comes amid continuing public outcry against police handling of the case. Appearing alongside Martin's parents, their lawyer Benjamin Crump said the shooter "needs to be arrested, prosecuted and convicted". "Now, the state needs to do it. It's crazy that this family has to wait for grand juries and stuff when, if it was the other way around they would have arrested their son on the spot."
By Rene Lynch March 20, 2012, 4:41 p.m. Police identified Zimmerman as white, but his family says he's Hispanic. Critics of how authorities have dealt with the case have launched marches, petitions and demonstrations, and civil rights leader the Rev. Al Sharpton was expected in the area Tuesday night. Earlier in the day Tuesday, black leaders hand-delivered a letter to Florida Gov. Rick Scott expressing their concerns and displeasure with how the case has been handled so far. According to local media reports, Zimmerman took seriously his volunteer role as captain of the neighborhood watch group in the diverse community. He had aspirations of being a police officer at one point in his life, and had called 911 to report suspicious activity in the neighborhood nearly 50 times in the last year, according to the Miami Herald. "He once caught a thief and an arrest was made," Cynthia Wibker, secretary of the homeowners association, told the Herald. "He helped solve a lot of crimes." But others apparently felt uneasy with Zimmerman's zealousness. One African American resident, Ibrahim Rashada, told the Herald that Zimmerman seemed friendly and helpful, but Zimmerman also circulated a description of a suspect that pulled Rashada up short. "I fit the stereotype he emailed around," Rashada said. That realization led Rashada to drive downtown whenever he wants to take a walk and stretch his legs. "I don’t want anyone chasing me," he said. Zimmerman's father wrote a letter to the Sun Sentinel that insists that his son is neither a racist nor guilty of being the aggressor in the deadly encounter. The statement was published in full on the newspaper's website. It reads in part: "George is a Spanish speaking minority with many black family members and friends. He would be the last to discriminate for any reason whatsoever.... The media portrayal of George as a racist could not be further from the truth." The statement goes on to suggest that the public should be outraged over the "extremely misleading" portrayal of Zimmerman, and hinted that there are key facts that have yet to be made public. "The events of February 26 reported in the media are also totally inaccurate. Out of respect for the on-going investigation, I will not discuss specifics. However, the media reports of the events are imaginary at best. At no time did George follow or confront Mr. Martin. When the true details of the event become public, and I hope that will be soon, everyone should be outraged by the treatment of George Zimmerman in the media." ABC News has also been delving into what it suggested were irregularities with the investigation to date. For one, ABC reported, Zimmerman was not tested for drugs or alcohol on the night of the shooting, something that the news organization says is routine in many homicide cases. Moreover, a narcotics detective -- and not a trained homicide detective -- took Zimmerman's statement in the wake of the shooting, ABC said. Tracy Martin, the father of the slain teen, said police told him that Zimmerman's background was "squeaky clean." However, ABC News reported, public records show that Zimmerman was charged with battery against on officer and resisting arrest in 2005, a charge that was later "expunged" from his record. That allowed him to legally obtain the weapon he was carrying the night of the shooting. Zimmerman and his father have temporarily left their home, after they were the subject of death threats, according to media reports. Most of the attention that tape has garnered has been over the portion where the officer specifically tells Zimmerman he’s not to follow Martin. Had Zimmerman followed these instructions (which are also part of the national guidelines for any Neighborhood Watch, which Zimmerman was a part of), Martin would still be alive. However, now the attention has moved to the seconds before that back and forth. In those moments, Zimmerman can be heard moving after Martin (the sounds of his movements are what caused the officer to ask if he was pursuing Martin). In the midst of these sounds, there seems to be a quick comment made under Zimmerman’s breath and some now say is “fucking coons,” coon obviously being a racial slur against blacks.
Our son didn't deserve to die. Trayvon Martin was just 17 years old when he was shot and killed by George Zimmerman. Trayvon wasn't doing anything besides walking home with a bag of Skittles and some iced tea in his hands. What makes Trayvon’s death so much harder is knowing that the man who confessed to killing Trayvon, George Zimmerman, still hasn't been charged for Trayvon’s killing. Despite all this, we have hope. Since we started to lead a campaign on Change.org, more than 500,000 people -- including you -- have signed our petition calling for Florida authorities to prosecute our son’s killer. Our campaign is already starting to work. Just last night, the FBI and Department of Justice announced they were investigating our son’s killing. Newspapers around the globe are reporting that it’s because of our petition. But our son’s killer is still free, and we need more people to speak out if we want justice for Trayvon. Can you please share our petition on Facebook and ask your friends and family to sign? Click here to share. You can also click here to email your friends and ask them to sign that way. We aren't looking for revenge, we're looking for justice -- the same justice anyone would expect if their son were shot and killed for no reason. Thank you so much for all you’ve done to support our family. - Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton Police arrived minutes later. After the shooting, Trayvon’s body was bagged and taken to the morgue, where he was tagged as a John Doe. Critics have noted that no one contacted Trayvon’s family even though police had his cell phone in their possession. The Miami Herald reports Zimmerman had taken it upon himself to patrol the neighborhood and had called police 46 times since January 2011 to report suspicious activity or other incidents. Trayvon Martin was killed on February 26th, but it’s only weeks later that his story is gaining national attention after a campaign led by family members and the release of the 911 tapes last week. JASMINE RAND: I mean, I think it just—it shows that the Sanford Police Department—I mean, there was either corruption or just woeful ignorance on their behalf. They were calling the family, after losing their child, harassing the parents over his phone, wanting to get—you know, get to his phone, get in his phone. And they had the phone in their possession the entire time. So, you know, there are a lot of questions that I can’t answer, because they don’t make sense.
In September 2010, Trevor Dooley stormed into a park near his home outside Tampa, angry because a teenager was skateboarding on the basketball court. Dooley was carrying a .32-caliber semiautomatic handgun in his pants, and it was visible to David James, 41, who was in the park with his 8-year-old daughter. James tried to disarm Dooley, who is now 71, and as the two men tussled on the ground, Dooley shot James in the chest, killing him. Prosecutors, not surprisingly, charged Dooley with manslaughter. But if Dooley's lawyers can convince a judge by next week that he fired the gun because his life was being threatened -- that he is therefore protected under Florida's "stand your ground" law -- Dooley may well walk away a free man. A growing number of people hope the judge will make Dooley stand trial on the manslaughter charge. But that sentiment has as much to do with another tragedy that occurred last month, 60 miles (100 km) to the northeast, in Sanford, Fla. That's the case of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed teen who was shot and killed the night of Feb. 26 while walking back to the house where he was staying in a gated community. The shooter, George Zimmerman, 28, the neighborhood watch captain, was following Martin because he thought the 17-year-old, dressed in a hooded sweatshirt, looked suspicious. When the two got into an altercation, Zimmerman fired the gun he was carrying. As astonishing as it sounds, Sanford police have refused to charge Zimmerman -- although the state attorney's office now says it will convene a grand jury next month to investigate the case. The cops have been balking in large part because, under the stand-your-ground statute, they're virtually obligated to accept his argument that he was acting in self-defense -- even if it was Martin who may have felt more threatened, according to recordings of 911 calls by neighbors that were released over the weekend. The 2005 Florida law permits anyone, anywhere to use deadly force against another person if they believe their safety or life is in danger, and it's the state's usually futile task to prove that the act wasn't justified. Little wonder the St. Petersburg Times found that five years after the law was signed by then Governor Jeb Bush -- who called it a "good, commonsense anti-crime" bill -- claims of justifiable homicides in Florida more than tripled, from just over 30 to more than 100 in 2010. In that time, the stand-your-ground defense was used in 93 cases involving 65 deaths -- and in the majority of those cases, it worked. Pro-gun advocates like the National Rifle Association, which pushed hard for stand your ground, say it simply broadens citizens' capacity for self-defense. But if Dooley and now Zimmerman do walk, there may be an understandable public backlash against a statute that in reality has made the streets, bars and parks of Florida -- and of the at least 16 other states that have enacted similar laws since 2005 -- more dangerous spaces. Stand your ground, which many Floridians sardonically call "shoot first," didn't broaden self-defense as much as it broke with centuries of British and American common (and commonsense) law that absolved such deadly force only in cases involving the "castle doctrine," that is, defending one's home against a violent intruder. (MORE: Trayvon Martin's Murder: Was the Motive Self-Defense or Racism?)
In the final moments of his life, Trayvon Martin was being hounded by a strange man on a cellphone who ran after him, cornered him and confronted him, according to the teenage girl whose call logs show she was on the phone with the 17-year-old boy in the moments before neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman shot him dead. Martin's death Feb. 26 has stirred national outrage and protests, partly prompting the U.S. Justice Department's Civil Rights Division and the FBI to open an investigation into the case. ABC News was there exclusively as the 16-year-old girl told Martin family attorney Benjamin Crump about the last moments of the teenager's life. "He said this man was watching him, so he put his hoodie on. He said he lost the man," Martin's friend said. "I asked Trayvon to run, and he said he was going to walk fast. I told him to run but he said he was not going to run." Eventually he would run, said the girl, thinking that he'd managed to escape. But suddenly the strange man was back, cornering Martin. "Trayvon said, 'What, are you following me for,' and the man said, 'What are you doing here.' Next thing I hear is somebody pushing, and somebody pushed Trayvon because the head set just fell. I called him again and he didn't answer the phone." The line went dead. Besides screams heard on 911 calls that night as Martin and Zimmerman scuffled, those were the last words he said. Trayvon's phone logs, also obtained exclusively by ABC News, show the conversation occurred five minutes before police first arrived on scene. The young woman's parents asked that her name not be used, and that only an attorney could ask her questions. Martin's father, Tracey Martin, and mother, Sybrina Fulton, listened to the call along with ABC News, ashen-faced. "He knew he was being followed and tried to get away from the guy, and the guy still caught up with him," Tracey Martin said. "And that's the most disturbing part. He thought he had got away from the guy and the guy back-tracked for him." The teen was killed by Zimmerman while walking back to his father's fiancés home after stepping out to buy Skittles and some iced tea during the NBA All-Star Game. After weeks of relentless pressure, the Sanford Police have decided to release emergency and non-emergency calls placed during the incident. "These a**holes always get away," Zimmerman says in a call to a non-emergency number. Dispatcher: "Are you following him?" Zimmerman: "Yeah." Dispatcher: "We don't need you to do that." An altercation soon ensued. A few moments later a torrent of 911 calls flooded in and Martin was killed by a single bullet. Zimmerman claimed self-defense and has yet to be arrested, stoking outrage and claims of prejudice against the police department. "When George Zimmerman is arrested, tried and convicted I will get a little rest," Tracey Martin said. According to a statement by the Justice Department, "The department will conduct a thorough and independent review of all of the evidence and take appropriate action and the conclusion of the investigation. … The government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a person acted intentionally and with the specific intent to do something which the law forbids. Negligence, recklessness, mistakes and accidents are not prosecutable under the federal criminal civil rights laws." Nearly half a million people have signed an online petition on change.org urging law enforcement officials to step in and arrest Zimmerman. Protests have played out in the Florida town all week with a large gathering expected Thursday. Zimmerman violated major principles of the Neighborhood Watch manual, ABC News has learned. The manual from the Neighborhood Watch program states: "It should be emphasized to members that they do not possess police powers. And they shall not carry weapons or pursue vehicles." According to Chris Tutko, the director of the National Neighborhood Watch program, there are about 22,000 registered watch groups nationwide, and Zimmerman was not part of a registered group, which police were not aware of at the time of the incident.
The family of Trayvon Martin is asking the FBI to get involved in the investigation of the killing of the unarmed 17-year-old Florida high school student, who was shot last month by a self-appointed neighborhood watchman outside his stepmother's home. Martin, a black high-school junior, was making his way home with a bag of Skittles and a can of iced tea on Feb. 26 when George Zimmerman spotted him, called a non-emergency dispatch number to report Martin looked intoxicated, followed him, and then minutes later after an altercation, shot him. Zimmerman, 28, who is white, claimed self defense. He was never arrested and has been charged with no crime, sparking national outrage. ABC News has learned police seemed to accept Zimmerman's account at face value that night and that he was not tested for drugs or alcohol on the night of the shooting, even though it is standard procedure in most homicide investigations. Now Martin family attorney Ben Crump has written a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder, and it's being circulated by several members of congress who are putting pressure on him to get the FBI involved. An FBI spokesman told ABC News: "We are aware of the incident, we have been in contact with local authorities and are monitoring the matter." The night of Feb. 26, Zimmerman made a non-emergency call to police before fatally shooting Martin, in which he told a dispatcher, "This guy looks like he's up to no good, on drugs or something." But law enforcement expert Rod Wheeler who listened to the tapes tells ABC News that Zimmerman, not Martin, sounded intoxicated in the police recordings of the 911 calls. "When I listened to the 911 tape the first thing that came to my mind is this guy sounds intoxicated. Notice how he's slurring his words. We as trained law enforcement officers, we know how to listen for that right away and I think that's going to be an important element of this entire investigation," Wheeler said. But Zimmerman was not tested. Martin's family is now calling on the FBI to take over what they say is a botched investigation. "We've got a fair investigation, it was the best we can do, it's in states attorney hands now," Sanford Police Department spokesman Dave Morgenstern said.
Heartbreaking tragedy: 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was visiting a relative's house in a Florida gated community when he walked to the store to get Skittles and iced tea for his little brother. He never made it home. Trayvon Martin was shot and killed by a self-styled neighborhood watch leader, who told police he thought Trayvon was "suspicious" in the mostly-white community.
Unbelievable twist: A man named George Zimmerman allegedly admitted to police that he shot Trayvon Martin in the chest. Zimmerman claims he acted in self defense, even though police allegedly told him not to do anything until they arrived -- and despite the fact that Trayvon was unarmed, carrying only a bag of Skittles when he died. In the two weeks since Zimmerman allegedly killed Trayvon, police have refused to arrest the confessed killer.
Hope for justice: Sybrina Fulton is Trayvon's mother, and she's leading a campaign on Change.org to get justice for her son. Tracy knows that if enough people raise an outcry, Sanford, Florida authorities will be forced to investigate Zimmerman the same way they would investigate any confessed killer. 
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Here's a lot more info about Sybrina's campaign, in her own words:
On February 26, my son Trayvon Martin was shot and killed as he walked back from a convenience store where he had just bought some candy. He was only 17 years old. 
Trayvon's killer, George Zimmerman, admitted to police that he shot Trayvon in the chest. Zimmerman, the community's self appointed "neighborhood watch leader," called the police to report a suspicious person when he saw Trayvon, a young black man, walking from the store. But Zimmerman, who is white, still hasn't been charged for killing my son. 
Trayvon was my hero. At the age of 9, Trayvon pulled his father from a burning kitchen, saving his life. He loved sports and horseback riding. At only 17 he had a bright future ahead of him with dreams of attending college and becoming an aviation mechanic. Now that's all gone.
When Zimmerman reported Trayvon to the police, they told him not to confront him. But he did anyway. All I know about what happened next is that my 17 year-old son, who was completely unarmed, was shot and killed.
I don't know if my family will ever receive justice for this terrible tragedy. It's been nearly two weeks and the Sanford Police have refused to arrest George Zimmerman. In their public statements, they even go so far as to stand up for the killer - saying he's "a college grad" who took a class in criminal justice.
Please join me in calling on the the Sanford Police Department and Florida State's Attorney Norman Wolfinger to investigate my son's death and prosecute George Zimmerman for the shooting and killing of Trayvon Martin. 
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civil rights abuses


NONE ARE MORE HOPELESSLY ENSLAVED THAN THOSE WHO FALSELY BELIEVE THEY ARE FREE

By S.R. Shearer

Niemand ist hoffnungsloser versklavt als jene, die fälschlicherweise glauben, frei zu sein.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

William Blum, an investigative journalist in Washington, DC, writes in his excellent book, Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower:

«Overtly and covertly, legally and illegally, the military-industrial complex (in the United States) has joined forces with the prison-industrial complex, linked further to the omnipresent national security-police complex, all clasping hands tightly with the War on Drugs, in a declaration of War on the American people and the Bill of Rights. This Authority juggernaut – enamored with its own perpetuation, glorification and enrichment – has convinced the American public that without its storm troopers all hell would break loose and the safety and security of the citizenry would be on a life-support machine. In this undertaking, it has had the indispensable assistance of intimidated legislatures, an uniconoclastic judiciary, compliant media, and a president — who – in the words of civil-liberties columnist Nat Hentoff – ‘in this century … has afflicted the most harm on our constitutional rights and liberties. [Please see our article, «Apostasy: Christianity In The Service Of A Religio-Political-Corporate-Terrorist State.»]»
Blum then presents a list of civil rights abuses that he culled from public sources (i.e., newspapers, journals, etc.) that occur regularly on a day-to-day basis in the United States which – when taken together – show with unmistakable clarity how far «civil rights» in the United States have been eroded and how dangerously close we are today to being a police-state. AND THIS IS THE COUNTRY THAT EVANGELICAL LEADERS LIKE TIM LAHAYE, JERRY FALWELL, D. JAMES KENNEDY, JAMES ROBISON, ETC. CALL THE «NEW ISRAEL OF GOD?» THIS IS THE COUNTRY ABOUT WHICH PAT ROBERTSON SAYS:

«If America is free, people everywhere can hope for freedom. And if America goes down, all hope is lost to the rest of the world» ?
One wonders if all these so-called «men of God» have been lingering too long around the «second-hand smoke» of the «pot-heads» they’ve taken such delight in condemning over the years. The truth is there if they want to see it; indeed, one would have to be blind to miss it, so that in these men – ALL OF THEM

«… is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive …» (Matt. 13:14)


The list that follows is a composite list derived partially from Blum’s list and assorted others. The thing to remember here is that all of the instances listed below occur today on a REGULAR basis. They are not aberrations or anomalies. The sad thing in all of this, is that there is little doubt that most Christians will not be upset by this «catalogue» of civil rights abuses. And why is that? – because most of those who are the «targets» of these abuses and indignities (i.e., the poor, the minorities, the so-called «welfare cheats,» the single moms, etc.) have been so DEMONIZED by the «mainline press» that they now seem somehow or other to be deserving of it all. But, then, this is what the Germans did to the Jews in the 1920s and 1930s – demonized them to the point where most Germans came «naturally» and «easily» to the belief that the Jews were «getting what they deserved.» [If you possess additinal examples, please send them to us and we will add them to the list] The list is as follows:

  • In every state, the police or the National Guard and, at times, active-duty army troops, are – under the guise of the «War on Drugs» (again, please see our article, «APOSTASY: Christianity In The Service Of A ‘Religio-Political-Corporate-Terrorist State'») – conducting relentless helicopter surveillances over people’s homes and property, setting up roadblocks, interrogating, detaining, harassing and terrifying residents with displays of excessive power. To a very large extent, these activities have very little to do with any «war on drugs» and everything to do with suppressing the «throw-away» portion of the American population that has been consigned to «unemployment» or to jobs that don’t pay a «living wage» – about one-third of today’s population – i.e., «poor white trash,» blacks, Hispanics, etc. (Please see Barbara Ehrenreich’s book, Nickled and Dimed, available at most book stores.)
  • In hundreds of American cities, young people – again, under the rubric of the «War on Drugs» – are being subjected to nighttime curfew laws (a phenomenon that rarely is enforced in affluent white neighborhoods, but only in poor minority areas); many have a daytime curfew as well. Again, these curfews have very little to do with any «war on drugs,» and everything to do with suppressing militant young people that in every «revolution» (especially those revolutions that pit the poor against the rich) form the backbone of the «revolt.» The idea here is to harass them to such an extent that they can never organize themselves, and to DEMONIZE them as hooligans and «ner-do-wells» so as to justify the harsh measures that are being taken against them.
  • The CIA, FBI and other federal agencies are increasingly refusing to respond to legitimately issued subpoenas for documents which detail the «extra-legal» and unconstitutional activities they are engaged in. They are simply ignoring the judiciary – and doing it with impunity. The arrogance of these agencies in this respect brings to mind the arrogance practiced by Hoover’s FBI in the 1960s and ’70s against those in the Civil Rights Movement and the anti-war effort.
  • Citizens are undergoing assorted harassments and penalties from the federal government for having traveled to, spent money in and/or shipped various goods to countries the United States has blacklisted; for example, the former Yugoslavia – or for that matter, any nation that has «opted out» of the American System and has – as a result – incurred the wrath of the American elites – countries like Cuba, Libya, Iran, Iraq, etc. Those who visit the United Nations Mission in New York or the Interests Section in Washington of some of the countries the government has black listed risk being photographed and receiving visits or phone calls from the FBI. This phenomenon is especially directed against those people who are in the habit of speaking out against America’s «New World Order System» like the Mary Knollers, the Quakers, and anyone and everyone who is in any way associated with movements like Liberation Theology, labor rights organizations, etc. [Please see our articles, «Colombia: America’s New Vietnam» and «Colombia: The Spread Of America’s New World Order System Northward From Latin America To The Untied States.»]
  • The CIA is once again routinely opening and reading the mail (and email) of U.S. citizens without benefit of search warrants. The FBI is also peeking at our correspondence, domestic and international, for a host of its own priorities – again, on the most specious of reasons (really, pretenses). They habitually cite as their authority vague references to «national security.» When asked to be more specific, they refuse on grounds of «national security.»
  • Motorists are being stopped on highways on the flimsiest of excuses (unsafe lane changes, tail light infractions, failures to signal, etc.) and then intimidated into submitting to a search of their vehicles without «probable cause.» If they refuse, that alone is often taken as «probable cause» (or «probable cause» is «created» – which occurs more often than most people realize), and their vehicles are searched anyway. The utility of these laws (i.e., tail light infractions, «unsafe lane changes,» seat belt violations, etc.) lies in the fact that they can be used to harass various «suspect» populations the police want to keep «off balance» – AND THAT IS PRECISELY THE WAY THEY ARE USED – or does one really think that such measures are taken in places like Simi Valley, Palm Beach, the Hamptons?
  • Private corporations are recording employees’ phone calls and voice mail, reading their computer files and email, getting logs of what websites they’ve looked at, videotaping them as they work, observing them in bathrooms and locker rooms with two-way mirrors or hidden cameras, tracking their whereabouts by having them use electronic pass keys, bugging their offices, subjecting them to airport-style electronic searches, testing their urine for drugs, doing extensive security checks on their backgrounds – all this whether or not they have ever behaved poorly on the job, or whether their work involves any danger to anyone. For the most part, this kind of activity was initiated as a «crime-fighting» device and under the cover that an «employer has the right to know what his employee is doing on his time.» But such «rights» by an employer over an employee has NEVER been asserted before in the United States, although one would think – given the propaganda that has accompanied the assertions of these rights – that such is not the case. THESE ARE THE KIND OF «RIGHTS» A «MASTER» ASSERTS OVER HIS «SLAVE But then that should say something about elite attitudes towards their employees, shouldn’t it?
  • At growing numbers of schools around the country, students are having to undergo urinalysis in order to join the track team, join the chess club, go to the prom, go on a field trip or drive to and from school. Once again, all this is being done under cover of the «War on Drugs,» but what it really is, is a «control mechanism» used to suppress the underclass with – or, again, does one really believe, other than in a few «high profile» instances, this is ever done in affluent white areas.
  • New Jersey state troopers are enlisting hotel workers along the New Jersey Turnpike to tip them off about suspicious guests who, among other things PAY FOR THEIR ROOMS IN CASH, or receive a flurry of phone calls; hotel managers are allowing troopers, without a warrant, to leaf through the credit card receipts and registration forms of guests; the troopers are given surveillance seminars to train employees to scrutinize guests who fit a given «profile.» IF THIS WERE DONE IN THE OLD SOVIET UNION, ONE WOULD NOT BE INCORRECT IN LABELING SUCH ACTIVITY AS THE ACTIVITY OF A «POLICE-STATE.» Of course, one could retort that the police are merely trying to «combat crime.» But then, that’s what the police in the old Soviet Union would have said too.
  • The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is keeping up to date a list of what it calls «radicals» and other undesirables who will be rounded up and detained without benefit of a hearing in times of «national emergency.» This is, of course, something all dictatorships do. This is what Hitler did in 1933 – and in 1934 he declared an «emergency,» and rounded up all his enemies. You can bet that if such things were ever done in the name of «Right Religion,» the Religious Right would be there cheering on the state in its «round up.» This is what Rick Joyner wants when he said, «… leaders who … resist (the imposition of the new Christian state people like him envision) … will be removed from their place.» George Hawton suggests a way, «… 2/3 will have to die in the last days so that 1/3 might emerge pure.»
  • Task forces of international, federal, military, state and local law enforcement and intelligence agencies, as well as private entities, are employing increased interaction, abundant funds, new laws, new technologies and new octopus-like data bases to spy on and harass activists of many stripes. THIS IS ESPECIALLY SO IN THE CASE OF THOSE ACTIVISTS THAT HAVE BEEN DEMONSTRATING AGAINST THE WTO, THE IMF, THE WORLD BANK AND THE G-8 SUMMITS. The FBI and police are noting license plate numbers of people attending meetings and demonstrations, photographing people, paying informers to infiltrate groups, breaking into offices to steal mailing and contributor lists, rifling through files and carrying out «harassment arrests» (i.e. charges later dropped). Individual members of these groups are receiving FBI visits at their homes and workplaces, or the Bureau is sending anonymous letters to the person’s colleagues implying that he or she is actually an informer as well as sending assorted poison-pen letters to employers, landlords and spouses designed to produce optimal distress. Again, is this the kind of activity a «free society» tolerates? No! – this is the kind of activity one would have expected to see in the Third Reich or in the old Soviet Union. How is it possible for Christians to associate themselves with such a state and call it the «New Israel of God?»
  • Increasingly, airport passengers are being detained for hours, even days, and missing flights because they fit a «terrorist profile» based on appearance, airport behavior, travel itinerary or other criteria. They are being strip searched, including body cavity searches, X-rayed, forced to take laxatives, their bowel movements monitored. Many white Christians, of course, are not aware of all this because they do not fit the profile, but fitting a profile – does that make it right? If you say, «yes, these steps are necessary to guarantee public safety,» then you would have made a nice little Nazi in the Third Reich of some sixty years ago because that is precisely the reasons they gave in implementing the exact same steps then. «Public safety,» «national security,» and the phrase, «If you have nothing to hide, then you shouldn’t be afraid» come straight out of the 1934 Hitler Youth Handbook.
  • The FBI is urging librarians to report on the books taken out by patrons with foreign-sounding names, particularly scientific and technical books. When this program was first revealed and criticized, the FBI proceeded to do checks on the critics. These are the same kind of techniques used by the Chinese communists during Mao’s «Cultural Revolution.»
  • The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is demanding that a publisher provide it with the names of people who have ordered certain «anti-government» material. Again, these are the same kinds of acts that made Mao’s «Cultural Revolution» such a heinous affair.
  • Under the «cover» of the «War on Drugs» and a similar «war» against «illegal guns,» police throughout the country have been seizing the property of thousands and thousands of individuals without «due process.» And much more than most people are aware of, this kind of activity is now being used against people deemed to be involved in «anti-government» activity. For example, it was alleged by the BATF that the «dissidents» at Waco (Mt. Carmel) had automatic weapons and illegal firearms – despite the fact that the local sheriff had checked such reports out and had determined that the reports were false. BATF was simply determined to raid Mt. Carmel, and they were not about to let the facts stand in their way.
  • The DEA, ATF, INS, FBI, DIA, Secret Service, US Forest Service, National Park Service, Sheriff’s Departments, National Guard and/or other official cowboys, wearing black suits, ski masks and the like, forming massively armed mobs of screaming, swearing agents, helicopters chopping above, battering down doors, raiding people’s homes, smashing up furniture, beating up residents, handcuffing them, manhandling pregnant women, terrifying children, separating them from their parents, shooting people dead, looking for drugs or individuals which often are not there – this jihad (holy war) being the outcome of no more than a tip from an «unnamed informant.» Heavily-armed so-called «bounty hunters,» with the force of law behind them, are carrying on in a similar manner to kidnap a person, sometimes killing someone, sometimes the «wrong person.» Operators of «pirate» radio stations are also being invaded, with FCC agents, federal marshals, a SWAT team, customs agents and local police comprising the attacking force. Again, these are all the tactics of a «police-state,» not those of a «free society.»
  • A driver, stopped by the police, tapes the encounter. When he goes to the local police station to complain about his treatment, he is asked to hand the tape over. He’s then charged with illegal wiretapping. It seems that it’s okay for the police to record and video tape these stops for their records, but it is not okay for private citizens who are the targets of such «illegal» and warrantless» stops to do so. Again, privileges extended to the police that are not extended to average citizens. THIS IS THE KIND OF ATTITUDE ONE WOULD EXPECT TO FIND IN A «POLICE-STATE,» BUT NOT IN A «FREE SOCIETY.» The term «free society» is a meaningless, empty phrase if it does not mean a society that is free from harassment from its own police.
  • Intercity busses and trains are being boarded by DEA agents to conduct searches of passengers’ belongings. Passengers are assured that it’s all «voluntary.» One is reminded of World War II movies where busses in occupied countries are routinely stopped by the SS and the Gestapo in search of provocateurs.
  • The police are beating up and arresting strikers and escorting scab workers into plants, thus taking the side of the employer, as the police have done virtually without exception during 150 years of industrial conflict in the United States. Corporations are using many of the more than 10,000 private security firms, which employ 1.5 million guards, to suppress strike action and intimidate union organizers. Again, these are the activities one would expect to find being employed by the police in America’s «client-states» like Nicaragua, Guatemala, Brazil, Indonesia, etc., but not in the United States.
  • Law enforcement officers in northern California, taking the side of logging interests once again, are pressing cotton swabs saturated with pepper spray (600 times hotter than cayenne pepper) into the eyes of non-violent people chained to each other, who are protesting the felling of ancient redwoods; protesters are shrieking and writhing in pain as the solution takes effect. People are dying in police custody in cases where pepper spray is a contributing factor. Again, the police tactics of a «terrorist-state.» These protesters were all non-violent! They are American citizens who – in and of themselves do not possess the financial wherewithal to fight the logging interests except in the fashion they are doing. What are people to do when confronting the power of the rich? – do nothing? Or, maybe the police do not belong to the poor, but only to the rich in this country. That’s evidently where we are headed.
  • Banks, telephone companies, utility companies, credit card companies, airlines, bus companies, rental car outlets, storage facilities, hotel and motels and all manner of other private institutions are providing various local, state and federal authorities with all the information about their customers they desire under the ever-expanding legal authorities being granted to law enforcement bodies with scarcely any public hearings or debate. The «War on Drugs» is requiring banks, brokers, casinos and other financial institutions to monitor their customers’ financial transactions and report any «unusual» or «suspicious» activity. The information is all fed into the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network whose computers spend their days making linkages between individuals and bank accounts, businesses, real estate and other assets.
  • States are selling confidential wage, driving and other information about their residents to private information companies and other enterprises.
  • Scenarios along the lines of the following from Savannah, Georgia are probably taking place elsewhere: Without warning , a team of armed county and schools system officers periodically entered the schools, ordered everyone into the hallways, used dogs to sniff student’s belongings, and scanned the students’ bodies with metal detectors. One of the high-school teachers was very upset by this – «Because I teach the Constitution,» she explained – and made her feelings known to the authorities. A police officer told her principal that because of her «attitude» problem, she might have to be detained or restrained during future surprise raids. During a subsequent raid, the teacher’s son was the only student out of 1,500 to be individually searched. Later, cars in the parking lot were searched, and the police claimed to have found a marijuana cigarette in the teacher’s car. The Board of Education suspended her and she was later fired.
  • A federal court, created by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978, is receiving applications for authorization of electronic surveillance within the United States and is rubber-stamping them. In its first 20 years, the court received 10,000 applications form the Justice Department on behalf of the FBI and the National Security Agency. By all accounts, only one was rejected, on a technicality. There exists no public record of any kind about the individual cases, nor any oversight. The Clinton administration has expanded the court’s mandate to allow it to approve physical break-ins, enabling the Justice Department to bypass the usual warrant procedure in an open court, which would necessitate some accounting of the items seized, and an explanation of probable cause that a crime had been committed. The targets of these wiretaps and burglaries can be under surveillance merely because of belonging to or supporting an organization whose politics are looked upon with disfavor by the U.S. government. Federal agents can now obtain the phone numbers of all incoming and outgoing calls on any line used or called by suspected «foreign» agents.
  • The grand jury system is running amok. Virtually all federal cases now use it to obtain indictments. Neither the accused nor his or her lawyer is there, so they can’t confront accusers. The system is used as an instrument of terror – relatives testifying against one another with no confidentiality privilege with respect to family members other than husbands and wives: parents called to testify against their children, children against their parents, brothers against sisters. It lacks due process. It’s another secret tool of an expanding executive branch.
  • Hundreds of cities now are employing highly armed and trained Special Weapons and Tactics Teams (SWAT), based on military special operations models, and told they’re part of a «war» on crime; ready to terrorize the enemy (the citizens) with automatic assault rifles, tanks and grenade launchers, called out even in non-crisis situations; choosing a neighborhood and swooping onto street corners, forcing pedestrians to the ground, searching them, running warrant checks, taking photos and entering all the new «intelligence» into a state database from computer terminals in each patrol car. As they carry out this exercise, they do not trip over many members of the Fortune 500.
  • Forced labor is beginning to thrive again in the United States: people compelled to work off their welfare grants, with no prospect of real employment, sometimes at sub-minimum wages, or no wages at all; convicted defendants sentenced to «community service;» inmates denied vital privileges if the refuse to work in prison, many producing for private companies, who get away with paltry wages, no benefits, no unions. Some prison-made products are being exported, exactly what the U.S. has condemned China for.
  • embassies abroad are surveilling selected American travelers, fingered by a joint effort of the FBI and the State Department Passport Office.
  • The notion of bail is rapidly eroding. We’re raised to believe that for other than a capital offense, reasonable bail must be offered. We have a long history of not holding people in custody until their guilt has been determined. That’s not true anymore. We call the new concept «preventive detention.»
  • You’re exercising your precious freedom to vote and the only candidates presented to you with more than a snowball-in-hell’s chance of winning are those whose ideologies enable them to raise about a half million dollars to contest a seat in the House, about five million for the Senate, and about a hundred million for the White House. Or, increasingly, the candidates themselves are multi-millionaires.
  • As in Detroit, New York, Philadelphia, Los Angeles and Indianapolis in recent years, police in large cities are exhibiting a remarkable level of disdain for the laws of the land; giving false information to courts to secure search warrants, or acting without warrants, committing perjury on the stand, allowing the results of botched tests of drugs to be used in criminal cases, staging drug raids in order to steal drugs, money, guns and other valuables, taking money and drugs in exchange for immunity, robbing and beating people on the streets of their precinct. And exhibiting the same disdain for individual rights in numerous search-and-destroy missions against private homes: using special «shock-lock» shotgun rounds to blow apartment doors off their hinges, or shooting off the door locks, tossing in «flash-ban grenades,» which produce explosions that terrify and disorient people, illegally searching the inhabitants, menacing them with their guns, firing shots at people without cause, killing people, planting drugs or other false evidence, forcing people outside almost naked, filing false arrest reports, or sometimes filing no charges at all after all this, assaulting or threatening people who make charges against them.
  • Public relations firms, hired by large corporations and business associations, are utilizing hefty fees, lawyers, detectives, spies and phony «grassroots» campaigns to influence the media and public opinion against food, environmental and other activists and authors who pose a threat to one of their special-interest clients, trying to make the activists look foolish, if not criminal, as they exercise their political rights.
  • NBC is canceling an appearance by a nuclear activist because she has criticized General Electric, which owns the network. Another nuclear activist or author, or opponent of military spending, is unwelcome at CBS because it belongs to Westinghouse; while yet another finds doors closed at ABC because of having treated the Disney conglomerate with less than reverence; ditto at CNN, owned by the AOL-Time-Warner octopus; while the advertisers are increasingly influencing the content of news stories. [As A.J. Liebling famously wrote: «If you want freedom of the press, you have to own one.»]
  • During a new U.S. invasion abroad, the media is being severely restricted as to what it can report to the American people about the war; reporters are required to submit their copy to the Pentagon censor, and are told where they can go, what they can film, who they can interview; those who don’t toe the line are transferred by their employer under heavy Pentagon pressure.
  • The FBI is staging photos used in a trial, and its crime laboratory is producing scientifically flawed, misleading or altered evidence benefiting the prosecutor’s case against a defendant, even allowing a judge to be impeached on false charges. A Bureau official is destroying an internal report critical of an FBI action in a particular case and not disclosing its existence to prosecutors or defense attorneys, or the Bureau is allowing inaccurate and/or incomplete «expert» testimony during court proceedings, tilting it in such a way as to incriminate the accused. A veteran FBI agent who blows the whistle on such goings-on is being harassed and suspended.
  • The DEA, other federal and state agents and police are seizing houses, boats, cars, airplanes, real estate, furnishings, bank accounts and other assets belonging to people suspected of involvement in drug trafficking, or belonging to their spouses, often without a conviction, and whether or not the assets seized were tied to the alleged crime. In one state, a man is losing his home and his business for selling two grams of cocaine. In another, numerous cars are being confiscated from new car dealerships for failing to report all cash transactions involving more than $10,000. Elsewhere, a 75-year old grandmother is being dispossessed of her home for the sins of her fugitive, drug-dealing son. The government agencies are selling these assets and using the proceeds for anything from patrol cars to parties. The expected value of forfeitures is a times a determining factor in the question of who to raid. Police are routinely planting drugs and falsifying police reports to establish probable cause for cash seizures. Plea bargains are struck that commonly favor drug kingpins willing to surrender their assets and penalize «mules» with nothing to trade. As of early 1999, there was $2.7 billion in the federal government’s «Asset Forfeiture Fund» alone.
  • The concept of equal access to legal remedy and justice is being invalidated every day after a decade of deep government cutbacks to the legal aid program, thus robbing the poor of what is often their sole defense against unscrupulous landlords, scam artists, battering spouses, home foreclosure, consumer fraud and many other legal predicaments.
  • A public official who questions the War on Drugs is paying an awful price, like former Surgeon General Jocelyn Elders whose son was sentenced to 10 years in prison for selling one-eighth of an ounce of cocaine to an undercover police officer. His arrest took place five months after the sale, on a warrant issued a week after his mother suggested that the government study the legalization of drugs.
  • Then, of course, there are the incidents called «Waco» and «Ruby Ridge.»

NONE ARE MORE HOPELESSLY ENSLAVED THAN THOSE WHO FALSELY BELIEVE THEY ARE FREE

By S.R. Shearer

Niemand ist hoffnungsloser versklavt als jene, die fälschlicherweise glauben, frei zu sein.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

William Blum, an investigative journalist in Washington, DC, writes in his excellent book, Rogue State: A Guide to the World's Only Superpower:



"Overtly and covertly, legally and illegally, the military-industrial complex (in the United States) has joined forces with the prison-industrial complex, linked further to the omnipresent national security-police complex, all clasping hands tightly with the War on Drugs, in a declaration of War on the American people and the Bill of Rights. This Authority juggernaut - enamored with its own perpetuation, glorification and enrichment - has convinced the American public that without its storm troopers all hell would break loose and the safety and security of the citizenry would be on a life-support machine. In this undertaking, it has had the indispensable assistance of intimidated legislatures, an uniconoclastic judiciary, compliant media, and a president --- who - in the words of civil-liberties columnist Nat Hentoff - 'in this century ... has afflicted the most harm on our constitutional rights and liberties. [Please see our article, "Apostasy: Christianity In The Service Of A Religio-Political-Corporate-Terrorist State."]"
Blum then presents a list of civil rights abuses that he culled from public sources (i.e., newspapers, journals, etc.) that occur regularly on a day-to-day basis in the United States which - when taken together - show with unmistakable clarity how far "civil rights" in the United States have been eroded and how dangerously close we are today to being a police-state. AND THIS IS THE COUNTRY THAT EVANGELICAL LEADERS LIKE TIM LAHAYE, JERRY FALWELL, D. JAMES KENNEDY, JAMES ROBISON, ETC. CALL THE "NEW ISRAEL OF GOD?" THIS IS THE COUNTRY ABOUT WHICH PAT ROBERTSON SAYS:



"If America is free, people everywhere can hope for freedom. And if America goes down, all hope is lost to the rest of the world" ?
One wonders if all these so-called "men of God" have been lingering too long around the "second-hand smoke" of the "pot-heads" they've taken such delight in condemning over the years. The truth is there if they want to see it; indeed, one would have to be blind to miss it, so that in these men - ALL OF THEM -



"... is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive ..." (Matt. 13:14)


The list that follows is a composite list derived partially from Blum's list and assorted others. The thing to remember here is that all of the instances listed below occur today on a REGULAR basis. They are not aberrations or anomalies. The sad thing in all of this, is that there is little doubt that most Christians will not be upset by this "catalogue" of civil rights abuses. And why is that? - because most of those who are the "targets" of these abuses and indignities (i.e., the poor, the minorities, the so-called "welfare cheats," the single moms, etc.) have been so DEMONIZED by the "mainline press" that they now seem somehow or other to be deserving of it all. But, then, this is what the Germans did to the Jews in the 1920s and 1930s - demonized them to the point where most Germans came "naturally" and "easily" to the belief that the Jews were "getting what they deserved." [If you possess additinal examples, please send them to us and we will add them to the list] The list is as follows:
  • In every state, the police or the National Guard and, at times, active-duty army troops, are - under the guise of the "War on Drugs" (again, please see our article, "APOSTASY: Christianity In The Service Of A 'Religio-Political-Corporate-Terrorist State'") - conducting relentless helicopter surveillances over people's homes and property, setting up roadblocks, interrogating, detaining, harassing and terrifying residents with displays of excessive power. To a very large extent, these activities have very little to do with any "war on drugs" and everything to do with suppressing the "throw-away" portion of the American population that has been consigned to "unemployment" or to jobs that don't pay a "living wage" - about one-third of today's population - i.e., "poor white trash," blacks, Hispanics, etc. (Please see Barbara Ehrenreich's book, Nickled and Dimed, available at most book stores.)
  • In hundreds of American cities, young people - again, under the rubric of the "War on Drugs" - are being subjected to nighttime curfew laws (a phenomenon that rarely is enforced in affluent white neighborhoods, but only in poor minority areas); many have a daytime curfew as well. Again, these curfews have very little to do with any "war on drugs," and everything to do with suppressing militant young people that in every "revolution" (especially those revolutions that pit the poor against the rich) form the backbone of the "revolt." The idea here is to harass them to such an extent that they can never organize themselves, and to DEMONIZE them as hooligans and "ner-do-wells" so as to justify the harsh measures that are being taken against them.
  • The CIA, FBI and other federal agencies are increasingly refusing to respond to legitimately issued subpoenas for documents which detail the "extra-legal" and unconstitutional activities they are engaged in. They are simply ignoring the judiciary - and doing it with impunity. The arrogance of these agencies in this respect brings to mind the arrogance practiced by Hoover's FBI in the 1960s and '70s against those in the Civil Rights Movement and the anti-war effort.
  • Citizens are undergoing assorted harassments and penalties from the federal government for having traveled to, spent money in and/or shipped various goods to countries the United States has blacklisted; for example, the former Yugoslavia - or for that matter, any nation that has "opted out" of the American System and has - as a result - incurred the wrath of the American elites - countries like Cuba, Libya, Iran, Iraq, etc. Those who visit the United Nations Mission in New York or the Interests Section in Washington of some of the countries the government has black listed risk being photographed and receiving visits or phone calls from the FBI. This phenomenon is especially directed against those people who are in the habit of speaking out against America's "New World Order System" like the Mary Knollers, the Quakers, and anyone and everyone who is in any way associated with movements like Liberation Theology, labor rights organizations, etc. [Please see our articles, "Colombia: America's New Vietnam" and "Colombia: The Spread Of America's New World Order System Northward From Latin America To The Untied States."]
  • The CIA is once again routinely opening and reading the mail (and email) of U.S. citizens without benefit of search warrants. The FBI is also peeking at our correspondence, domestic and international, for a host of its own priorities - again, on the most specious of reasons (really, pretenses). They habitually cite as their authority vague references to "national security." When asked to be more specific, they refuse on grounds of "national security."
  • Motorists are being stopped on highways on the flimsiest of excuses (unsafe lane changes, tail light infractions, failures to signal, etc.) and then intimidated into submitting to a search of their vehicles without "probable cause." If they refuse, that alone is often taken as "probable cause" (or "probable cause" is "created" - which occurs more often than most people realize), and their vehicles are searched anyway. The utility of these laws (i.e., tail light infractions, "unsafe lane changes," seat belt violations, etc.) lies in the fact that they can be used to harass various "suspect" populations the police want to keep "off balance" - AND THAT IS PRECISELY THE WAY THEY ARE USED - or does one really think that such measures are taken in places like Simi Valley, Palm Beach, the Hamptons?
  • Private corporations are recording employees' phone calls and voice mail, reading their computer files and email, getting logs of what websites they've looked at, videotaping them as they work, observing them in bathrooms and locker rooms with two-way mirrors or hidden cameras, tracking their whereabouts by having them use electronic pass keys, bugging their offices, subjecting them to airport-style electronic searches, testing their urine for drugs, doing extensive security checks on their backgrounds - all this whether or not they have ever behaved poorly on the job, or whether their work involves any danger to anyone. For the most part, this kind of activity was initiated as a "crime-fighting" device and under the cover that an "employer has the right to know what his employee is doing on his time." But such "rights" by an employer over an employee has NEVER been asserted before in the United States, although one would think - given the propaganda that has accompanied the assertions of these rights - that such is not the case. THESE ARE THE KIND OF "RIGHTS" A "MASTER" ASSERTS OVER HIS "SLAVE." But then that should say something about elite attitudes towards their employees, shouldn't it?
  • At growing numbers of schools around the country, students are having to undergo urinalysis in order to join the track team, join the chess club, go to the prom, go on a field trip or drive to and from school. Once again, all this is being done under cover of the "War on Drugs," but what it really is, is a "control mechanism" used to suppress the underclass with - or, again, does one really believe, other than in a few "high profile" instances, this is ever done in affluent white areas.
  • New Jersey state troopers are enlisting hotel workers along the New Jersey Turnpike to tip them off about suspicious guests who, among other things PAY FOR THEIR ROOMS IN CASH, or receive a flurry of phone calls; hotel managers are allowing troopers, without a warrant, to leaf through the credit card receipts and registration forms of guests; the troopers are given surveillance seminars to train employees to scrutinize guests who fit a given "profile." IF THIS WERE DONE IN THE OLD SOVIET UNION, ONE WOULD NOT BE INCORRECT IN LABELING SUCH ACTIVITY AS THE ACTIVITY OF A "POLICE-STATE." Of course, one could retort that the police are merely trying to "combat crime." But then, that's what the police in the old Soviet Union would have said too.
  • The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is keeping up to date a list of what it calls "radicals" and other undesirables who will be rounded up and detained without benefit of a hearing in times of "national emergency." This is, of course, something all dictatorships do. This is what Hitler did in 1933 - and in 1934 he declared an "emergency," and rounded up all his enemies. You can bet that if such things were ever done in the name of "Right Religion," the Religious Right would be there cheering on the state in its "round up." This is what Rick Joyner wants when he said, "... leaders who ... resist (the imposition of the new Christian state people like him envision) ... will be removed from their place." George Hawton suggests a way, "... 2/3 will have to die in the last days so that 1/3 might emerge pure."
  • Task forces of international, federal, military, state and local law enforcement and intelligence agencies, as well as private entities, are employing increased interaction, abundant funds, new laws, new technologies and new octopus-like data bases to spy on and harass activists of many stripes. THIS IS ESPECIALLY SO IN THE CASE OF THOSE ACTIVISTS THAT HAVE BEEN DEMONSTRATING AGAINST THE WTO, THE IMF, THE WORLD BANK AND THE G-8 SUMMITS. The FBI and police are noting license plate numbers of people attending meetings and demonstrations, photographing people, paying informers to infiltrate groups, breaking into offices to steal mailing and contributor lists, rifling through files and carrying out "harassment arrests" (i.e. charges later dropped). Individual members of these groups are receiving FBI visits at their homes and workplaces, or the Bureau is sending anonymous letters to the person's colleagues implying that he or she is actually an informer as well as sending assorted poison-pen letters to employers, landlords and spouses designed to produce optimal distress. Again, is this the kind of activity a "free society" tolerates? No! - this is the kind of activity one would have expected to see in the Third Reich or in the old Soviet Union. How is it possible for Christians to associate themselves with such a state and call it the "New Israel of God?"
  • Increasingly, airport passengers are being detained for hours, even days, and missing flights because they fit a "terrorist profile" based on appearance, airport behavior, travel itinerary or other criteria. They are being strip searched, including body cavity searches, X-rayed, forced to take laxatives, their bowel movements monitored. Many white Christians, of course, are not aware of all this because they do not fit the profile, but fitting a profile - does that make it right? If you say, "yes, these steps are necessary to guarantee public safety," then you would have made a nice little Nazi in the Third Reich of some sixty years ago because that is precisely the reasons they gave in implementing the exact same steps then. "Public safety," "national security," and the phrase, "If you have nothing to hide, then you shouldn't be afraid" come straight out of the 1934 Hitler Youth Handbook.
  • The FBI is urging librarians to report on the books taken out by patrons with foreign-sounding names, particularly scientific and technical books. When this program was first revealed and criticized, the FBI proceeded to do checks on the critics. These are the same kind of techniques used by the Chinese communists during Mao's "Cultural Revolution."
  • The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is demanding that a publisher provide it with the names of people who have ordered certain "anti-government" material. Again, these are the same kinds of acts that made Mao's "Cultural Revolution" such a heinous affair.
  • Under the "cover" of the "War on Drugs" and a similar "war" against "illegal guns," police throughout the country have been seizing the property of thousands and thousands of individuals without "due process." And much more than most people are aware of, this kind of activity is now being used against people deemed to be involved in "anti-government" activity. For example, it was alleged by the BATF that the "dissidents" at Waco (Mt. Carmel) had automatic weapons and illegal firearms - despite the fact that the local sheriff had checked such reports out and had determined that the reports were false. BATF was simply determined to raid Mt. Carmel, and they were not about to let the facts stand in their way.
  • The DEA, ATF, INS, FBI, DIA, Secret Service, US Forest Service, National Park Service, Sheriff's Departments, National Guard and/or other official cowboys, wearing black suits, ski masks and the like, forming massively armed mobs of screaming, swearing agents, helicopters chopping above, battering down doors, raiding people's homes, smashing up furniture, beating up residents, handcuffing them, manhandling pregnant women, terrifying children, separating them from their parents, shooting people dead, looking for drugs or individuals which often are not there - this jihad (holy war) being the outcome of no more than a tip from an "unnamed informant." Heavily-armed so-called "bounty hunters," with the force of law behind them, are carrying on in a similar manner to kidnap a person, sometimes killing someone, sometimes the "wrong person." Operators of "pirate" radio stations are also being invaded, with FCC agents, federal marshals, a SWAT team, customs agents and local police comprising the attacking force. Again, these are all the tactics of a "police-state," not those of a "free society."
  • A driver, stopped by the police, tapes the encounter. When he goes to the local police station to complain about his treatment, he is asked to hand the tape over. He's then charged with illegal wiretapping. It seems that it's okay for the police to record and video tape these stops for their records, but it is not okay for private citizens who are the targets of such "illegal" and warrantless" stops to do so. Again, privileges extended to the police that are not extended to average citizens. THIS IS THE KIND OF ATTITUDE ONE WOULD EXPECT TO FIND IN A "POLICE-STATE," BUT NOT IN A "FREE SOCIETY." The term "free society" is a meaningless, empty phrase if it does not mean a society that is free from harassment from its own police.
  • Intercity busses and trains are being boarded by DEA agents to conduct searches of passengers' belongings. Passengers are assured that it's all "voluntary." One is reminded of World War II movies where busses in occupied countries are routinely stopped by the SS and the Gestapo in search of provocateurs.
  • The police are beating up and arresting strikers and escorting scab workers into plants, thus taking the side of the employer, as the police have done virtually without exception during 150 years of industrial conflict in the United States. Corporations are using many of the more than 10,000 private security firms, which employ 1.5 million guards, to suppress strike action and intimidate union organizers. Again, these are the activities one would expect to find being employed by the police in America's "client-states" like Nicaragua, Guatemala, Brazil, Indonesia, etc., but not in the United States.
  • Law enforcement officers in northern California, taking the side of logging interests once again, are pressing cotton swabs saturated with pepper spray (600 times hotter than cayenne pepper) into the eyes of non-violent people chained to each other, who are protesting the felling of ancient redwoods; protesters are shrieking and writhing in pain as the solution takes effect. People are dying in police custody in cases where pepper spray is a contributing factor. Again, the police tactics of a "terrorist-state." These protesters were all non-violent! They are American citizens who - in and of themselves do not possess the financial wherewithal to fight the logging interests except in the fashion they are doing. What are people to do when confronting the power of the rich? - do nothing? Or, maybe the police do not belong to the poor, but only to the rich in this country. That's evidently where we are headed.
  • Banks, telephone companies, utility companies, credit card companies, airlines, bus companies, rental car outlets, storage facilities, hotel and motels and all manner of other private institutions are providing various local, state and federal authorities with all the information about their customers they desire under the ever-expanding legal authorities being granted to law enforcement bodies with scarcely any public hearings or debate. The "War on Drugs" is requiring banks, brokers, casinos and other financial institutions to monitor their customers' financial transactions and report any "unusual" or "suspicious" activity. The information is all fed into the Treasury Department's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network whose computers spend their days making linkages between individuals and bank accounts, businesses, real estate and other assets.
  • States are selling confidential wage, driving and other information about their residents to private information companies and other enterprises.
  • Scenarios along the lines of the following from Savannah, Georgia are probably taking place elsewhere: Without warning , a team of armed county and schools system officers periodically entered the schools, ordered everyone into the hallways, used dogs to sniff student's belongings, and scanned the students' bodies with metal detectors. One of the high-school teachers was very upset by this - "Because I teach the Constitution," she explained - and made her feelings known to the authorities. A police officer told her principal that because of her "attitude" problem, she might have to be detained or restrained during future surprise raids. During a subsequent raid, the teacher's son was the only student out of 1,500 to be individually searched. Later, cars in the parking lot were searched, and the police claimed to have found a marijuana cigarette in the teacher's car. The Board of Education suspended her and she was later fired.
  • A federal court, created by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978, is receiving applications for authorization of electronic surveillance within the United States and is rubber-stamping them. In its first 20 years, the court received 10,000 applications form the Justice Department on behalf of the FBI and the National Security Agency. By all accounts, only one was rejected, on a technicality. There exists no public record of any kind about the individual cases, nor any oversight. The Clinton administration has expanded the court's mandate to allow it to approve physical break-ins, enabling the Justice Department to bypass the usual warrant procedure in an open court, which would necessitate some accounting of the items seized, and an explanation of probable cause that a crime had been committed. The targets of these wiretaps and burglaries can be under surveillance merely because of belonging to or supporting an organization whose politics are looked upon with disfavor by the U.S. government. Federal agents can now obtain the phone numbers of all incoming and outgoing calls on any line used or called by suspected "foreign" agents.
  • The grand jury system is running amok. Virtually all federal cases now use it to obtain indictments. Neither the accused nor his or her lawyer is there, so they can't confront accusers. The system is used as an instrument of terror - relatives testifying against one another with no confidentiality privilege with respect to family members other than husbands and wives: parents called to testify against their children, children against their parents, brothers against sisters. It lacks due process. It's another secret tool of an expanding executive branch.
  • Hundreds of cities now are employing highly armed and trained Special Weapons and Tactics Teams (SWAT), based on military special operations models, and told they're part of a "war" on crime; ready to terrorize the enemy (the citizens) with automatic assault rifles, tanks and grenade launchers, called out even in non-crisis situations; choosing a neighborhood and swooping onto street corners, forcing pedestrians to the ground, searching them, running warrant checks, taking photos and entering all the new "intelligence" into a state database from computer terminals in each patrol car. As they carry out this exercise, they do not trip over many members of the Fortune 500.
  • Forced labor is beginning to thrive again in the United States: people compelled to work off their welfare grants, with no prospect of real employment, sometimes at sub-minimum wages, or no wages at all; convicted defendants sentenced to "community service;" inmates denied vital privileges if the refuse to work in prison, many producing for private companies, who get away with paltry wages, no benefits, no unions. Some prison-made products are being exported, exactly what the U.S. has condemned China for.
  • embassies abroad are surveilling selected American travelers, fingered by a joint effort of the FBI and the State Department Passport Office.
  • The notion of bail is rapidly eroding. We're raised to believe that for other than a capital offense, reasonable bail must be offered. We have a long history of not holding people in custody until their guilt has been determined. That's not true anymore. We call the new concept "preventive detention."
  • You're exercising your precious freedom to vote and the only candidates presented to you with more than a snowball-in-hell's chance of winning are those whose ideologies enable them to raise about a half million dollars to contest a seat in the House, about five million for the Senate, and about a hundred million for the White House. Or, increasingly, the candidates themselves are multi-millionaires.
  • As in Detroit, New York, Philadelphia, Los Angeles and Indianapolis in recent years, police in large cities are exhibiting a remarkable level of disdain for the laws of the land; giving false information to courts to secure search warrants, or acting without warrants, committing perjury on the stand, allowing the results of botched tests of drugs to be used in criminal cases, staging drug raids in order to steal drugs, money, guns and other valuables, taking money and drugs in exchange for immunity, robbing and beating people on the streets of their precinct. And exhibiting the same disdain for individual rights in numerous search-and-destroy missions against private homes: using special "shock-lock" shotgun rounds to blow apartment doors off their hinges, or shooting off the door locks, tossing in "flash-ban grenades," which produce explosions that terrify and disorient people, illegally searching the inhabitants, menacing them with their guns, firing shots at people without cause, killing people, planting drugs or other false evidence, forcing people outside almost naked, filing false arrest reports, or sometimes filing no charges at all after all this, assaulting or threatening people who make charges against them.
  • Public relations firms, hired by large corporations and business associations, are utilizing hefty fees, lawyers, detectives, spies and phony "grassroots" campaigns to influence the media and public opinion against food, environmental and other activists and authors who pose a threat to one of their special-interest clients, trying to make the activists look foolish, if not criminal, as they exercise their political rights.
  • NBC is canceling an appearance by a nuclear activist because she has criticized General Electric, which owns the network. Another nuclear activist or author, or opponent of military spending, is unwelcome at CBS because it belongs to Westinghouse; while yet another finds doors closed at ABC because of having treated the Disney conglomerate with less than reverence; ditto at CNN, owned by the AOL-Time-Warner octopus; while the advertisers are increasingly influencing the content of news stories. [As A.J. Liebling famously wrote: "If you want freedom of the press, you have to own one."]
  • During a new U.S. invasion abroad, the media is being severely restricted as to what it can report to the American people about the war; reporters are required to submit their copy to the Pentagon censor, and are told where they can go, what they can film, who they can interview; those who don't toe the line are transferred by their employer under heavy Pentagon pressure.
  • The FBI is staging photos used in a trial, and its crime laboratory is producing scientifically flawed, misleading or altered evidence benefiting the prosecutor's case against a defendant, even allowing a judge to be impeached on false charges. A Bureau official is destroying an internal report critical of an FBI action in a particular case and not disclosing its existence to prosecutors or defense attorneys, or the Bureau is allowing inaccurate and/or incomplete "expert" testimony during court proceedings, tilting it in such a way as to incriminate the accused. A veteran FBI agent who blows the whistle on such goings-on is being harassed and suspended.
  • The DEA, other federal and state agents and police are seizing houses, boats, cars, airplanes, real estate, furnishings, bank accounts and other assets belonging to people suspected of involvement in drug trafficking, or belonging to their spouses, often without a conviction, and whether or not the assets seized were tied to the alleged crime. In one state, a man is losing his home and his business for selling two grams of cocaine. In another, numerous cars are being confiscated from new car dealerships for failing to report all cash transactions involving more than $10,000. Elsewhere, a 75-year old grandmother is being dispossessed of her home for the sins of her fugitive, drug-dealing son. The government agencies are selling these assets and using the proceeds for anything from patrol cars to parties. The expected value of forfeitures is a times a determining factor in the question of who to raid. Police are routinely planting drugs and falsifying police reports to establish probable cause for cash seizures. Plea bargains are struck that commonly favor drug kingpins willing to surrender their assets and penalize "mules" with nothing to trade. As of early 1999, there was $2.7 billion in the federal government's "Asset Forfeiture Fund" alone.
  • The concept of equal access to legal remedy and justice is being invalidated every day after a decade of deep government cutbacks to the legal aid program, thus robbing the poor of what is often their sole defense against unscrupulous landlords, scam artists, battering spouses, home foreclosure, consumer fraud and many other legal predicaments.
  • A public official who questions the War on Drugs is paying an awful price, like former Surgeon General Jocelyn Elders whose son was sentenced to 10 years in prison for selling one-eighth of an ounce of cocaine to an undercover police officer. His arrest took place five months after the sale, on a warrant issued a week after his mother suggested that the government study the legalization of drugs.
  • Then, of course, there are the incidents called "Waco" and "Ruby Ridge."