Monday, April 26, 2010

Children Drop Out And Into Prison Industrial Complex

By Marian Wright Edelman

[Child Watch]

A homeless man talking about how he ended up on the streets said he had wanted to get in with the "cool" crowd in 8th or 9th grade—a crowd that smoked marijuana, got into fights, and skipped school. No adult reached out to help him turn his life around so he continued his decline into a life of chronic joblessness and poverty, and long stretches of incarceration after he dropped out of school.

Youths who drop out of school represent a colossal loss to our communities and nation. And many dropouts are condemned to the social and economic fringes of our society and lives less fulfilled than their peers who graduate from high school. Today, more than half of all young adult dropouts are jobless. And dropouts are at greater risk of being incarcerated and having poorer physical and mental health than those who graduate.

The impact of the enormous dropout problem is not evenly shared among children in America. Poor and minority youths are far less likely to graduate from high school than White children. An October 2009 report released by the National Center for Education Statistics says 59.8 percent of Blacks, 62.2 percent of Hispanics, and 61.2 percent of American Indians graduated from public high school in four years with a regular diploma in the 2006–07 school year compared to 79.8 percent for Whites and 91.2 percent for Asian and Pacific Islanders. Black and Hispanic dropout rates were more than twice those of White youths.

Children don't just wake up one morning and decide to take a path to a dead end life. So how is it possible that more than half a million of them drop out every year? I believe the main reason is that adults have often let our children down and abandoned our responsibilities to prepare them for healthy and productive lives in our homes and communities.

We'd rather punish children after they get into trouble than prevent child problems. The only universally guaranteed child right is a jail or detention cell after they come in conflict with the law. We don't even assure all children prenatal care to be born as healthy as possible. We have deprived our children of fathers by locking up young men and putting them in a pipeline to prison, and we've allowed our community supports to fray, depriving children of safe havens and positive mentors. For most of the week, congregational doors are locked and we've cut back on the hours when community centers and libraries are open. Some have decided that after-school and summer enrichment programs are too expensive. Some states spend more to incarcerate a child for a year than it would cost to send him to Harvard University! Some New York state youth prisons cost $210,000 to house one child for a year. Gangs and drug dealers are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, offering apprenticeships in drug dealing and car stealing and other illegal behaviors.

So many of our nation's schools have let our children down and are unwitting accomplices to the pipeline to prison’s destructive work. Academic tracking, social promotion, and out-of-school suspensions and expulsions contribute mightily to the discouragement, low self-esteem, and disengagement of so many poor and minority children.

One-size-fits-all school zero tolerance disciplinary policies are responsible for the growth in the number of school-based arrests of poor and minority children, funneling them into the juvenile and criminal justice systems at younger and younger ages. So many are suspended, expelled, even arrested, for nonviolent infractions such as being "disruptive" or "disrespectful." In the past, many of these problems would have been resolved in the principal's office or referred to a pastor or social worker or by calling the parent (who may no longer be in the house). Too many children today end up with an arrest record and are labeled a troublemaker, increasing the likelihood of dropping out of school.

There are a lot of things we know about preventing children from dropping out. New research has led to a better understanding of how to turn this enormous crisis around and has identified schools where graduation is not the norm. Researchers at Johns Hopkins University have identified 2,000 high schools in the country (12 percent) responsible for nearly half of the nation's dropouts. The children attending these "dropout factories" are overwhelmingly minority.

We can spot students in elementary school who, if adults do intervene, will be less likely to drop out. Potential dropouts can be identified as early as the fourth and sixth grades by looking at attendance, behavior and, of course, failure in math and English. We can focus our resources on these schools and their students with the goal of turning them around and rescuing hundreds of thousands of children from the cradle to prison pipeline. But the community has to care and raise a ruckus for our children's and nation's sakes.

This is a national problem requiring all of our focused attention. The dropout crisis is too costly to our children, communities, and nation to let it persist. We know how to keep children in school. We simply must decide to mix our knowledge and experience with the will to educate every child.

Marian Wright Edelman is President of the Children's Defense Fund whose Leave No Child Behind mission is to ensure every child a Healthy Start, a Head Start, a Fair Start, a Safe Start and a Moral Start in life and successful passage to adulthood with the help of caring families and communities.

Has The Time Come For A Real Maverick?

By Michael Swartz

A few election cycles ago Republicans ended up nominating a real, honest-to-goodness old warhorse for their presidential candidate, putting him up against a scandal-plagued incumbent Democrat. With the off-year elections two years before bringing a resounding GOP victory, Republican regulars shrugged off the 23-year age gap between the two nominees and presumed that the contrast between the incumbent's lacking character and their nominee's homespun charm could still score them an upset victory.

But thanks to a lackluster campaign and just enough of a third-party effort to deny the incumbent a majority of the vote, Republican stalwart Bob Dole lost the 1996 election to Bill Clinton. It was an era which placed the term "triangulation" into the political lexicon and Clinton executed that strategy masterfully in winning a second term.

In fact, recent history suggests Washington insiders don't do well as Republican candidates. George W. Bush won because he cut his political teeth in Texas, far from the nation's capital. Similarly, Ronald Reagan governed California before winning the White House on his second try and America expected more of the same when they elected a Beltway insider to succeed him in Vice-President George H.W. Bush. Conversely, Dole and John McCain were longtime Republican fixtures in Washington, perhaps alienating them from the party grassroots.

To that end, a number of names being bandied about for the GOP nod in 2012 come from the ranks of state governors. While Bobby Jindal of Louisiana declared last week he was not in the running, there's still several current or former state chief executives in the mix – Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota, Texas's Rick Perry, 2008 candidates Mike Huckabee of Arkansas and Mitt Romney of Massachusetts, and of course former second banana Sarah Palin of Alaska.

Yet there is a Beltway insider who has enough appeal among the conservatives who attend events like CPAC or last week's Southern Republican Leadership Conference to beat most of the above-mentioned names in their straw polls – he won the CPAC vote handily and just missed winning the SRLC balloting by one vote. If nominated, he would be 26 years older than the current incumbent Democratic president.

Somehow Ron Paul has escaped the wrath of being perceived as a Washington insider despite serving three stints in Congress totaling 20 years. Obviously he didn't do particularly well in a crowded primary field in 2008 as far as gathering votes goes, but he proved a potent fundraiser and has become a darling among the portion of the Republican Party which preaches fiscal conservatism and limited government through his Campaign for Liberty organization. More importantly, he has an appeal among young conservatives which belies his age.

And with economic issues in the forefront this time around, one Achilles heel of Paul's 2008 bid – his strident opposition to the war in Iraq – is off the table. His domestic policies generally follow a line which straddles conservatism and libertarianism, making him a definite friend of the TEA Party set.

It's doubtful that many of the Presidential players for the 2012 cycle are going to make their intentions known before the 2010 election because of November's potential for upending the Democrats' stranglehold on our legislative branch. This wait-and-see approach serves to gauge the strength of TEA Party politics and the general anti-incumbent mood.

But don't be surprised if the gentleman from Texas doesn't toss his hat back into the presidential ring next year and is more successful this time around. Unlike Bob Dole, it's not likely this elderly Washington insider will be uninspiring on the campaign trail.

Michael Swartz, an architect and writer who lives in rural Maryland, is a Liberty Features Syndicated writer.

Obama Initiatives: Are We Being Blitzed?

By Victor Morawski

Many of us have from time to time fallen victim to the common human frailty of trying to do too much too soon, usually with negative results. We have made ourselves very sore or by diving into that new exercise program with a little too much fervor. Trying to take off some of those extra pounds in record time we have actually undermined our health and affected our alertness. In making too many changes too quickly in that new position to which we were promoted we ended up angering and alienating our coworkers.

It would not be hard to charge members of Obama Administration and other prominent Democrats with the same human frailty. In taking on comprehensive health care reform, two major stimulus packages, auto industry bailouts, major environmental cap and trade legislation, nationalization of the student loan program, privatization of NASA and initiating steps for illegal alien amnesty they may easily be charged with taking on too much too soon, out of an innocent and all-too-human excess of enthusiasm. And such a dizzying succession of actions is bound to get them into trouble.

But there is a far more insidious light in which the initiatives of this Administration and its Congressional supporters during the first year and a half of their tenure can be viewed---one which, while it may have the improbable ring of a far-fetched conspiracy theory, should not be dismissed out-of-hand and deserves serious consideration because, if true, it has some serious and profound implications.

Some have plausibly suggested their actions to date may be part of an overall plan to undermine and overwhelm American free market Capitalism using the Marxist-inspired Cloward-Piven Strategy (CPS). Named after Columbia University sociologists Richard Andrew Cloward and wife Frances Fox Piven, CPS is a strategy for forcing the collapse of an organization or economic system from within by overloading it with an unrelenting series of burdensome demands.

Directly inspired through their own admission by avowed Communist Saul Alinsky, their CPS primarily focuses on two of his famous Rules for Radicals. The first is RULE 4, "Make the enemy live up to their own book of rules." His whole approach for bringing about change in the direction of socialism is often referred to as "boring from within." Like termites that bring about collapse of a home's foundation from the inside, Alinsky-inspired radicals are urged to undermine the basic structures of Capitalism by working from within them to bring about their collapse. And the President, who received his early training in community organizing from Alinsky's Industrial Areas Foundation and who represented ACORN, an organization whose voter rights tactics follow the Cloward-Piven Strategy is arguably just such an Alinsky-inspired radical.

The second Alinsky rule---"RULE 8: "Keep the pressure on. Never let up." ---explains why Obama and his followers are trying to do so much so quickly and it isn't due to youthful enthusiasm. This rule, according to one Midland blogger suggests, "Keep trying new things to keep the opposition off balance. Attack, attack, attack from all sides, never giving the reeling organization a chance to rest…"

In Backgammon, my hobby, there is a game plan that parallels this strategy. It is even called a Blitz or Attacking game and consists in relentlessly pressuring your opponent until you have entirely overwhelmed them. It can only be employed, however, in certain specific situations. Most Backgammon games do not employ a Blitz strategy but are relatively even-handed affairs of give and take with opponents having positions of more or less equal strength where one opponent finally gains enough of an edge to pull off a close win.

Most politics, like most Backgammon games, usually proceeds in a give and take arena of mutual compromise. As Progressive Richard Rorty once noted, gains made by the left are often achieved in this plodding two-steps-forward-one-step-back fashion.

The key to a successful blitz is knowing when the game situation is right to employ it. And who can doubt that, for the new Obama Administration, the situation was right in the political arena. With a Democratic President and significant Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress---including a filibuster proof super majority in the Senate---the time was right to mount a blitz to fundamentally transform America into, at minimum, a European style social democracy.

The key to a successful defense against the Blitz is to, first of all, recognize what your opponent is trying to do, and to put all of your efforts into first establishing an anchoring point to stop the attack.

Our strategy to stop the Obama Administration's blitz is first to elect in 2012 leaders who will hold true to the fundamental principles on which this nation was founded as an anchor. In Backgammon it can be deadly not to recognize that you are being Blitzed. In politics it can be just as deadly not to recognize the attach that our nation's foundations is under and to instead elect people who misread the politial arena as calling simply for more give and take quiet business as usual.

Victor Morawski, professor at Coppin State University, is a Liberty Features Syndicated writer for Americans for Limited Government.

Barack Obama: Administrator

By Bill Wilson

The American people cannot say they weren't warned. When he was standing for election, Barack Obama said, "I think when you spread the wealth around, it's good for everybody." And, a $787 billion "stimulus", a $2.5 trillion health care takeover, and a proposed budget that will add at least $10.6 trillion to the national debt by 2020 later, there should be little uncertainty of this White House's insistence to redistribute wealth.

But in case there was any lingering doubt, last week Obama left none when he endorsed a Senate plan to take over the nation's financial system. The Dodd bill, which the Senate will vote to proceed to today, gives the government the ultimate power to take over and "liquidate" any company in the country and "spread the wealth around."

As noted in an Americans for Limited Government summary published last week, all that is necessary, under the bill for a company to be taken over, is that:

1) government deems the company to be "substantially engaged in activities… that are financial in nature,"

2) alleges it is in default or in danger of default,

3) which would have what it says are "serious adverse effects on financial stability in the United States"

4) where it claims "no viable private sector alternative is available to prevent the default of the financial company."

You know, companies like GM and Chrysler, which were nationalized under the similar Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP). Only, those companies were automakers, not financial companies, and there were private sector alternatives to nationalization. It's called bankruptcy.

The costs of the failures of the automakers were overstated, too. It would have meant that the brands were bought by other companies, not that the end of the U.S. economy was imminent. But, because of unlimited discretion vested in the executive, the bailout fund was abused to take exception to its intentions.

Importantly, the ownership of the companies was redistributed from their bondholders that kept the companies afloat to the labor unions that put it into red in the first place. Obama did say he wanted to "spread the wealth around," and the Dodd bill will make that authority permanent.

Under this unending program, any company may be seized under a $50 billion, revolving "orderly liquidation fund," which is funded by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) levying assessments on about 60 financial and insurance companies holding $50 billion or more in assets. There would be no limit on how much money could flow through that fund, nor require any Congressional approval for firms to be seized, funds to be spent, or new assessments to be levied by the FDIC to replenish the fund.

As reported by the Wall Street Journal's editorial board, all "crucial questions will be settled not by statute, but by regulatory discretion after the law passes." The Journal warns that "the President had better be very, very smart because the reform bill he is stumping for would give him and his regulators vast new sway over financial markets and risk-taking."

In short, it is the ultimate expression of Edward Mandell House's Philip Dru: Administator's "supremacy of mind." In House's utopian vision, a socialist takes over the nation, dissolves the Constitution, eliminates judicial review, and well, spreads the wealth around. He guarantees labor and government representation on the board of every corporation, places corporations under the control of national and state "commissions" appointed by the Administrator, and prohibits selling short or long stocks, bonds, commodities or "anything of value."

In Dru's America, profits are capped, wages are maximized, full employment secured, prices fixed, and loans guaranteed for the poor. Any "surplus" of profits was to "be distributed between labor and capital on some principle of equity."

Administrator Dru even pretends that the people prefer his role as dictator because of the "inefficiency" of Congress and the ability of the Supreme Court to strike down laws as unconstitutional. Thus, "the function of law making was confined to one individual, the Administrator himself." Speaking to the American people, Dru flatly states, "I am sure I shall be able to meet your wishes in a much simpler way" without the constraints of the Constitution, Congress, or the courts.

And that's exactly what the Dodd bill does.

Besides giving the executive branch unlimited authority to seize companies, levy taxes, and spend the fund, any company seized would be barred any recourse to federal courts on "any action seeking a determination of rights with respect to, the assets of any covered financial company for which the [FDIC] has been appointed receiver." The Supreme Court's "jurisdiction" would be utterly limited to no longer hear due process property rights claims.

In short, the seizure of any company by the government would be beyond dispute. Instead, any company seized by the FDIC will be bundled into securities to be sold to the Treasury. Then, the Treasury Secretary can keep (i.e. nationalize) the company, or redistribute it to customers of his choosing. You know, like union bosses.

In short, Obama will have a much "simpler" time at "spreading the wealth around" if the Dodd bill passes. Indeed, it may be what he had in mind all along.

Bill Wilson is the President of Americans for Limited Government.

Dear Liberty Activist,

Today, ALG President Bill Wilson urged the U.S. Senate to block debate on the Dodd financial takeover bill, and to start over with new legislation to address what it called "the root, government causes of the crisis."

In Wilson's letter to Senators, he wrote, "The American people will be more than livid with Senators that adopt an approach that expands government powers when the essential cause of the financial crisis was a government that was (and remains) unaccountable to the risks it was (and is) taking."

Wilson laid blame for the financial crisis at the feet of government-run Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Federal Housing Administration, and the Federal Reserve, which according to the letter weakened lending standards, underwrote risky mortgages, and created an unprecedented expansion in lending through artificially low interest rates.

Instead, Wilson wrote, the Dodd bill "in addition to creating a $50 billion revolving 'orderly liquidation fund,' will codify an unlimited bailout-takeover authority. This federal authority will endanger companies across the nation with unlimited government takeovers of their assets, operations, and ownership. No investment would be safe, and once seized, a company's shareholders would have no recourse in federal courts, even if the takeover was unwarranted."

According to an Americans for Limited Government summary of the legislation, there would be no limit on how much money could flow through the 'orderly liquidation fund' in total, nor would it require any Congressional authorization for firms to be seized, the funds to be spent, or new assessments to be levied by the FDIC to replenish the fund.

Wrote Wilson in his letter, "This will create moral hazard of the first order, and institutionalize 'too big to fail' for all time."

The bill would also shield from judicial review any government seizure of a company: "no court shall have jurisdiction over… any claim or action for payment from, or any action seeking a determination of rights with respect to, the assets of any covered financial company for which the Corporation has been appointed receiver."

Wilson wrote that this particular provision raised "serious Fifth Amendment due process property rights concerns" saying that any company could be seized under the broad provisions of the bill and would have no recourse in federal court.

Wilson wrote that the only solution was for Senators to "vote against proceeding to the current bill, and to demand a completely new bill that actually addresses the root, government causes of the crisis. In this instance, there is much to be said for starting over and getting it done right."

Let's keep the pressure on! Tonight, Harry Reid is forcing the Senate to vote to proceed to this bill. Using Capwiz, you can click here to get your Senators' office numbers to call, and here to send an email message to them. Let's make it real simple and tell the Senate:

This bill does not address the root, government causes of the crisis.
Would give the government unlimited power to seize companies, raise taxes, and spend funds without any Congressional approval.
Leave investors and shareholders with no legal recourse in federal court should their investments be seized by the government.

The only hope the American people have to defeat this complete financial takeover is for Senate Republicans to filibuster it. Any short of that will lead the nation down a rabbit hole of endless takeovers, bailouts, taxes and spending.

In today's Liberty Action Report, Barack Obama has a lot in common with Philip Dru, Administrator, the Obama agenda is being pushed rapidly, and is Ron Paul setting the stage for 2012 presidential run? Plus, the Wall Street Journal points out the true "systemic" risk in Europe is the moral hazard created bailing out Greece and other debtor nations.

Please send your letters to the editor to We publish all points of view!

Keep fighting, folks!

For Liberty,

Robert Romano
Senior Editor of ALG News

Black woman leads former whites-only Philly school


PHILADELPHIA — The private boarding school for underprivileged students now led by Autumn Adkins, who describes herself simply as "a black girl from Richmond, Virginia," would have excluded her in years past.

The one-time white boys-only institution in Philadelphia did not admit its first black student until 1968 — and that was only after numerous legal challenges, months of protests, a visit from Martin Luther King Jr. and a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court. Girls weren't allowed until 1984.

Girard College — a misnomer, as it serves first- through 12th-graders — has come a long way since being established by the richest man you never heard of. And as its newest president, the 37-year-old Adkins is determined to take it further, raising the school's profile by giving its students "a true 21st-century education."

"I have been really putting a lot of energy around making school exciting," Adkins said. "It needs to be engaging. I've said to several of my administrators, I don't want teachers wasting kids' time — they're young. It's just not fair."

Stephen Girard, a French-born sea captain, amassed a fortune through shipping, trading and banking after coming to Philadelphia in 1776. He helped the U.S. finance the War of 1812 and, when he died in 1831, was likely the wealthiest man in America.

Read Full Story...

Florida remains No. 1 in mortgage fraud, but scams diminish

Florida has maintained its dubious distinction as the nation’s most fraud-ridden mortgage market, but the rate of fraud is falling, the LexisNexis Mortgage Asset Research Institute says today.

The group’s annual mortgage fraud study gives Florida an index of 292 for 2009, meaning Florida has 2.9 times as much loan chicanery as the rest of the nation.

Florida also was No. 1 in 2008, the study says, but with an index of 430, according to the report. Florida now has ranked No. 1 in mortgage fraud for four years in a row. (Note: The LexisNexis Mortgage Asset Research Institute originally ranked Rhode Island No. 1 in last year’s report and Florida No. 2, but it has revised those figures to rank Florida No. 1 for 2008.)

by Jeff Ostrowski

Video: Protesters: US Should Fight Ariz. Immigrant Law

Porsche recalls 2010 Panamera sedan

By Drew Johnson

Porsche and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration have announced a safety recall involving the 2010 Panamera sedan. The recall is due to a potentially faulty driver’s seat belt that could become detached in the event of an accident.

Te recall covers all 2010 Porsche Panamera models, including S, 4S and Turbo models. In all, the recall covers 3,176 vehicles.

According to the NHTSA, when the driver’s seat is moved to its extreme forward position, the locking mechanism of the seat belt could become compromised. If a crash occurs while the driver’s seat is in its forward position, the seat belt could detach from its anchoring system.

The NHTSA warns the defect could increase the risk of injury in the event of a crash, although no injuries have been linked to the recall. Dealers will remedy the problem with an additional locking mechanism. Porsche has yet to announce a recall schedule for the problem.

Supreme Court To Decide On California Game Ban Law

The U.S. Supreme Court today determined that it will rule on the constitutionally of a California law that bans the sale of violent video games to minors. The Court will most likely hear the case this fall.

California originally passed the anti-gaming law in 2005 by arguing that the state should be able to prohibit the sale of violent games to minors in the same way they restrict the sale of sexual material. California argued that violent games harm children psychologically and make them more violent, antisocial or aggressive.

The Entertainment Software Association and another industry trade group challenged the law in court by characterizing games as a form of artistic expression protected by the First Amendment, and pointed out that the industry already regulates itself in the form of the ESRB Lower courts agreed with the game industry.

"None of the research establishes or suggests a causal link between minors playing violent video games and actual psychological or neurological harm, and inferences to that effect would not be reasonable," Judge Consuelo Callahan said in the 9th Circuit ruling.

California appealed the 9th Circuit ruling, and now the matter will move on to the big, legal show: The Supreme Court.

The lower courts accepted arguments that California failed to show sufficient evidence that games are harmful to minors. That, combined with the guarantee of free expression the first amendment provides, seems to me to be pretty strong evidence that the law will be ruled unconstitutional...but I'm no Supreme Court Justice. We shall see when this big case goes down in the fall.

By Stephen Johnson

George W. Bush book ‘Decision Points’ out Nov. 9, to tackle Sept. 11 attacks, 2000 election

George W. Bush book ‘Decision Points’ out Nov. 9

By Hillel Italie

NEW YORK — The publisher of former President George W. Bush’s book “Decision Points” on Sunday set a Nov. 9 release date, unveiled its cover design and announced new details about it.

Bush has said he is not writing a traditional memoir but an account of key decisions in his life. The cover features a photo of then-President Bush alone with his thoughts, standing in the Rose Garden Colonnade, wearing a dark suit and holding a briefing book, his head turned slightly from the camera.

According to Crown Publishers, “Decision Points” will offer “gripping, never-before-heard detail” on such historic events as the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and the 2000 presidential election along with Bush’s decision to quit drinking, his relationship with his family and other personal details.

“Since leaving the Oval Office, President Bush has given virtually no interviews or public speeches about his presidency,” Crown said in a statement. “Instead, he has spent almost every day writing ‘Decision Points,’ a strikingly personal and candid account revealing how and why he made the defining decisions in his consequential presidency and personal life.”

A publishing industry source familiar with the book said that Bush had completed a first draft and was editing the manuscript on a computer at his office in Dallas. A former White House speech writer, Chris Michel, is helping with research. The source was unsure whether Bush had compared notes with his wife, Laura Bush, whose memoir comes out May 4.

The source asked not to be identified because the book had not been released.

As president, Bush was known for not acknowledging errors, but Crown said that he “writes honestly and directly about his flaws and mistakes, as well as his historic achievements in reforming education, providing life-saving treatments for HIV/AIDS and malaria for millions of people in Africa, safeguarding the country from another terrorist attack, and other areas.”

The book will have a list price of $35. One thousand signed, clothbound copies will be available, priced at $350 each.

The former president will promote “Decision Points” through a national tour, although Crown, a division of Random House Inc., said no details were available.

Lawmakers Call for Troops on the Streets of Chicago

Illinois state Reps. and Chicago Democrats John Fritchey and LaShawn Ford are calling for on the governor, Chicago mayor Daley and Superintendent Jody Weis to use the National Guard in response to crime in the city.

“As we speak, National Guard members are working side-by-side with our troops to fight a war halfway around the world,” Fritchey said in a Sunday release. “The unfortunate reality is that we have another war that is just as deadly taking place right in our back yard. Is this a drastic call to action? Of course it is. But is it warranted when we are losing residents to gun violence at such an alarming rate? Without question.”

“Enough is enough. We’ve already lost too many lives. We need action now,” Ford said.

Fritchey said guard members have been trained in civil law enforcement as part of their nation-building assignments in Iraq and Afghanistan.

It is illegal to own a handgun in Chicago. Proponents of outlawing the Second Amendment in the city argue that taking guns out of the hands of citizens will reduce violence and the murder rate. 113 people have been killed in Chicago so far this year, the exact same number as U.S. troops reported killed during the same time period in Iraq and Afghanistan. The murder rate in Chicago soared immediately after the city banned handguns in 1982.

The Posse Comitatus Act prohibits members of the federal uniformed services, including the State National Guard, from exercising nominally state law enforcement, police, or peace officer powers that maintain law and order on non-federal property within the United States. The act does not apply to National Guard units while under the authority of the governor of a state.

The John Warner National Defense Authorization Act gave the president the authority to call out National Guard troops in the event of “public emergencies,” although the wording of the bill was later repealed and reverted to the previous wording of the Insurrection Act.

In 2007, following Hurricane Katrina, Congress changed the 200-year-old Insurrection Act to allow the president to control state National Guards in the event of an emergency. In a letter to Congress, a number of state governors called the change “a dramatic expansion of federal authority during natural disasters that could cause confusion in the command-and-control of the National Guard and interfere with states’ ability to respond to natural disasters within their borders.”

In 2008, Defense Secretary Robert Gates ordered the Pentagon to conduct a “broad review” to determine if the military and the National Guard and Reserve can “adequately deal with domestic disasters.” Gates’ order followed an earlier report released by the Commission on the National Guard and Reserves urging the Pentagon to “use the nation’s citizen soldiers to create an operational force that would be fully trained, equipped and ready to defend the nation.”

Chicago Police Supt. Jody Weis said he did not believe calling out the National Guard is the best solution for a soaring crime rate in the city. “I appreciate their frustration and their willingness to help,” he told Fox News. “But I am simply not sure the National Guard is the answer to our problems — at least in terms of mass deployment. I’m frankly not sure what their mission would be.”

“I spent six years in the Army, and I never got any course on how or why to obtain a search warrant,” Weis said. “That simply isn’t part of the military mission, but it’s something our officers have to deal with every day.”

In July of 2009, an Illinois National Guard military police unit deployed armored vehicles on the streets of Springfield.

In February, Pittsburgh mayor Luke Ravenstahl called in the National Guard in response to a snow storm. The troops soon began patrolling the streets. The mayor told residents on a live broadcast that the should “be advised that you will begin to see National Guard Humvees in some of your neighborhoods beginning this evening.” Ravenstahl also said issues that would normally be handled by police would be handled by the National guard, including “domestic disputes” normally addressed by the police.

During the G20 summit in Pennsylvania last year, neighboring New York announced it would mobilize the National Guard and deploy Blackhawk and Chinook helicopters. “The New York Army National Guard aircrew and helicopters are flying in support of the Pennsylvania National Guard’s Joint Task Force G20 which is executing Operation Steel Kickoff, security support for the G20 Summit involving 2,500 National Guard Soldiers and Airmen working at the direction of the Secret Service,” reported ReadMedia Newswire in January.

In 2008, National Guard troops were dispatched to patrol Times Square during the New Year celebration.

The Iowa National Guard was forced to rollback a military training exercise on the streets of a rural Iowa town in February, 2009, after negative publicity. The Guard had planned a four-day urban military operation in tiny Arcadia, Iowa, population 443, sending troops to take over the town and search door-to-door for a suspected weapons dealer, WorldNetDaily reported.

By Kurt Nimmo

Stephen Hawking: Avoid Contact with Aliens

Genius physicist Stephen Hawking thinks that it’s likely that there’s intelligent life in the universe beyond our solar system. And he advises that we should avoid contact with aliens:
Such scenes are speculative, but Hawking uses them to lead on to a serious point: that a few life forms could be intelligent and pose a threat. Hawking believes that contact with such a species could be devastating for humanity.

He suggests that aliens might simply raid Earth for its resources and then move on: “We only have to look at ourselves to see how intelligent life might develop into something we wouldn’t want to meet. I imagine they might exist in massive ships, having used up all the resources from their home planet. Such advanced aliens would perhaps become nomads, looking to conquer and colonise whatever planets they can reach.”

He concludes that trying to make contact with alien races is “a little too risky”. He said: “If aliens ever visit us, I think the outcome would be much as when Christopher Columbus first landed in America, which didn’t turn out very well for the Native Americans.”

Do you agree with his advice?

No Shirt, No Shoes, No Service and No Gay Dogs Too!

I see an opportunity for PETA and ACT UP to combine forces to fight canine homophobia!

NineMSN: An Adelaide restaurant that refused a blind man entry because a waiter thought his guide dog was "gay" has been ordered to apologise and pay compensation.

Ian Jolly was told he could not take guide dog Nudge into the Thai Spice last May because a member of staff objected, The Sunday Mail reported.
The restaurant's owners said a misunderstanding had arisen between Jolly's female companion and a waiter who understood the woman "to be saying she wanted to bring a gay dog into the restaurant".

"The staff genuinely believed that Nudge was an ordinary pet dog which had been desexed to become a gay dog," the owners said in a statement to South Australia's Equal Opportunity Tribunal.
The tribunal on Friday ordered the restaurant to pay Jolly $1500 and offer him a written apology for discriminating against him on the grounds of disability.

The restaurant, which displays a "guide dogs welcome" sign, refused to comment to the newspaper and was unavailable to respond on Sunday.
Jolly told the Sunday Mail he was happy with the result.
"I just want to be like everybody else and be able to go out for dinner, to be left alone and just enjoy a meal," he said.

Levin releases Goldman Sachs emails

By Ed Brayton

As the U.S. Senate prepares to debate several financial industry regulation bills and the SEC has brought charges against Goldman Sachs for fraud, Sen. Carl Levin has fired a shot across the bow of the giant investment firm by releasing a series of emails that show the company profiting by betting against the American housing market.

The Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, which Levin chairs, will hold hearings on Tuesday looking at how investment banks exacerbated the mortgage foreclosure crisis. A press release from the committee says:

“Investment banks such as Goldman Sachs were not simply market-makers, they were self-interested promoters of risky and complicated financial schemes that helped trigger the crisis,” said Sen. Levin. “They bundled toxic mortgages into complex financial instruments, got the credit rating agencies to label them as AAA securities, and sold them to investors, magnifying and spreading risk throughout the financial system, and all too often betting against the instruments they sold and profiting at the expense of their clients.” The 2009 Goldman Sachs annual report stated that the firm “did not generate enormous net revenues by betting against residential related products.” Levin said, “These e-mails show that, in fact, Goldman made a lot of money by betting against the mortgage market.”

The four exhibits released today are Goldman Sachs internal e-mails that address practices involving residential mortgage-backed securities and collateralized debt obligations (CDOs), financial instruments that were key in the financial crisis…

In one of the e-mails released today, Mr. Blankfein stated that the firm came out ahead in the mortgage crisis by taking short positions. In an e-mail exchange with other top Goldman Sachs executives, Mr. Blankfein wrote: “Of course we didn’t dodge the mortgage mess. We lost money, then made more than we lost because of shorts.”

Britain Apologizes To Vatican Over Leaked Memo On Pope's Planned Visit

Britain's Foreign Office yesterday issued a public apology to the Vatican after the press obtained a copy of a provocative memo circulated earlier this month among government officials. London's Sunday Telegraph reports that the background document grew out of a "brainstorming" session among civil servants on plans for Pope Benedict XVI's September visit to Britain. Circulated within the Foreign Office by a junior official, the proposals for the "ideal visit" by the Pope included many items that were implicitly critical of current Church policies on a variety of issues. (Excerpts from memo.) Suggestions included the Pope's opening an abortion ward, doing forward rolls with children to promote healthy living, singing a duet with the Queen, reversing Church policy on women as bishops and opening a help line for abused children. A cover memo admitted that a number of the ideas were "far-fetched." Senior officials quickly withdrew the document and one official who was responsible for it has been transferred to other duties. UK's Ambassador to the Vatican has also met with Holy See officials to express regret.

A second document circulated at the same time lists individuals and groups that are important to the Pope's visit, and ranks them in order of how influential and positive they are. The singer Susan Boyle is listed as more influential than the Archbishop of Westminster.

Howard M. Friedman

Ohio man arrested outside North Carolina airport as Obama leaves

ASHEVILLE, N.C. -- Airport police arrested a 23-year-old Ohio man Sunday who was carrying a handgun and listening to police radio frequencies near the runway around the time President Barack Obama's flight was leaving Asheville Regional Airport, according to investigators.
Joseph Sean McVey, of Coshocton, parked his car near a gate at the end of the terminal that leads to the runway just before 2 p.m. as Air Force One was taxiing, according to a case summary by police filed at the Buncombe County Magistrate's Office.
Police charged him with going armed to the terror of the public, a misdemeanor offense, but investigators haven't yet determined whether he was attempting to target the president. McVey was being held at the Magistrate's Office on Sunday on a secured bond set at $100,000.
Airport Director Lew Bleiweis said the suspect didn't get close to the president, who departed at 2 p.m.
Police began questioning McVey after noticing his car's Ohio license plate and other equipment, including a digital camera on the dashboard and four large antennas on the trunk lid, according to the case summary.
McVey got out of the car and started talking on a handheld radio attached to a remote earpiece, and the officer noticed he was wearing a sidearm. The officer and Secret Service agents asked for McVey's identification, and when they ran his driver's license number through a computer, it did not come back as valid, according to the summary.
When the officer asked what he was doing, McVey stated "he heard the president was in town. He stated he wanted to see the president," according to the summary.
Officers removed McVey's Springfield XD 40 handgun and detained him.
While searching his Pontiac Grand Prix, investigators heard police department radio traffic, "indicating he was monitoring our frequency when he arrived." Officers also found a siren box under his steering wheel, several pieces of paper with agency radio frequencies written on them and a sticky note in the cup holder with rifle scope formulas on them, according to the case summary.
Bleiweis said McVey's intentions were unclear, but the case remains under investigation.
Airport Police Capt. Kevan Smith said the investigation is being pursued by airport police, rather than the Secret Service. Smith said he couldn't say whether further charges will be filed.

Swannanoa resident Max Henkell was at the airport Sunday to watch the president's departure when he saw officers converge on McVey in parking lot, where rental car offices are located.
"They searched him and it looked like he had an empty pistol holster on his side, and I think I hear one of them say he had had a gun," Henkell said.

"When I realized what was going on, I was flabbergasted," he said.