March 29, 2009

U.N. 'Climate Change' Plan Would Likely Shift Trillions to Form New World Economy

By George Russell

A United Nations document on "climate change" that will be distributed to a major environmental conclave next week envisions a huge reordering of the world economy, likely involving trillions of dollars in wealth transfer, millions of job losses and gains, new taxes, industrial relocations, new tariffs and subsidies, and complicated payments for greenhouse gas abatement schemes and carbon taxes — all under the supervision of the world body.

Those and other results are blandly discussed in a discretely worded United Nations "information note" on potential consequences of the measures that industrialized countries will likely have to take to implement the Copenhagen Accord, the successor to the Kyoto Treaty, after it is negotiated and signed by December 2009. The Obama administration has said it supports the treaty process if, in the words of a U.S. State Department spokesman, it can come up with an "effective framework" for dealing with global warming.

The 16-page note, obtained by FOX News, will be distributed to participants at a mammoth negotiating session that starts on March 29 in Bonn, Germany, the first of three sessions intended to hammer out the actual commitments involved in the new deal.

In the stultifying language that is normal for important U.N. conclaves, the negotiators are known as the "Ad Hoc Working Group On Further Commitments For Annex I Parties Under the Kyoto Protocol." Yet the consequences of their negotiations, if enacted, would be nothing short of world-changing.

Getting that deal done has become the United Nations' highest priority, and the Bonn meeting is seen as a critical step along the path to what the U.N. calls an "ambitious and effective international response to climate change," which is intended to culminate at the later gathering in Copenhagen.

Just how ambitious the U.N.'s goals are can be seen, but only dimly, in the note obtained by FOX News, which offers in sparse detail both positive and negative consequences of the tools that industrial nations will most likely use to enforce the greenhouse gas reduction targets.

The paper makes no effort to calculate the magnitude of the costs and disruption involved, but despite the discreet presentation, makes clear that they will reverberate across the entire global economic system.

Among the tools that are considered are the cap-and-trade system for controlling carbon emissions that has been espoused by the Obama administration; "carbon taxes" on imported fuels and energy-intensive goods and industries, including airline transportation; and lower subsidies for those same goods, as well as new or higher subsidies for goods that are considered "environmentally sound."

Other tools are referred to only vaguely, including "energy policy reform," which the report indicates could affect "large-scale transportation infrastructure such as roads, rail and airports." When it comes to the results of such reform, the note says only that it could have "positive consequences for alternative transportation providers and producers of alternative fuels."

In the same bland manner, the note informs negotiators without going into details that cap-and-trade schemes "may induce some industrial relocation" to "less regulated host countries." Cap-and-trade functions by creating decreasing numbers of pollution-emission permits to be traded by industrial users, and thus pay more for each unit of carbon-based pollution, a market-driven system that aims to drive manufacturers toward less polluting technologies.

The note adds only that industrial relocation "would involve negative consequences for the implementing country, which loses employment and investment." But at the same time it "would involve indeterminate consequences for the countries that would host the relocated industries."

There are also entirely new kinds of tariffs and trade protectionist barriers such as those termed in the note as "border carbon adjustment"— which, the note says, can impose "a levy on imported goods equal to that which would have been imposed had they been produced domestically" under more strict environmental regimes.

Another form of "adjustment" would require exporters to "buy [carbon] offsets at the border equal to that which the producer would have been forced to purchase had the good been produced domestically."

The impact of both schemes, the note says, "would be functionally equivalent to an increased tariff: decreased market share for covered foreign producers." (There is no definition in the report of who, exactly, is "foreign.") The note adds that "If they were implemented fairly, such schemes would leave trade and investment patterns unchanged." Nothing is said about the consequences if such fairness was not achieved.

Indeed, only rarely does the "information note" attempt to inform readers in dollar terms of the impact of "spillover effects" from the potential policy changes it discusses. In a brief mention of consumer subsidies for fossil fuels, the note remarks that such subsidies in advanced economies exceed $60 billion a year, while they exceed $90 billion a year in developing economies."

But calculations of the impact of tariffs, offsets, or other subsidies is rare. In a reference to the impact of declining oil exports, the report says that Saudi Arabia has determined the loss to its economy at between $100 billion and $200 billion by 2030, but said nothing about other oil exporters.

One reason for the lack of detail, the note indicates, is that impact would vary widely depending on the nature and scope of the policies adopted (and, although the note does not mention it, on the severity of the greenhouse reduction targets).

But even when it does hazard a guess at specific impacts, the report seems curiously hazy. A "climate change levy on aviation" for example, is described as having undetermined "negative impacts on exporters of goods that rely on air transport, such as cut flowers and premium perishable produce," as well as "tourism services." But no mention is made in the note of the impact on the aerospace industry, an industry that had revenues in 2008 of $208 billion in the U.S. alone, or the losses the levy would impose on airlines for ordinary passenger transportation. (Global commercial airline revenues in 2008 were about $530 billion, and were already forecast to drop to an estimated $467 billion this year.)

In other cases, as when discussing the "increased costs of traditional exports" under a new environmental regime, the report confines itself to terse description. Changes in standards and labeling for exported goods, for example, "may demand costly changes to the production process." If subsidies and tariffs affect exports, the note says, the "economic and social consequences of dampening their viability may, for some countries and sectors, be significant."

Much depends, of course, on the extent to which harsher or more lenient greenhouse gas reduction targets demand more or less drastic policies for their achievement.

And, precisely because the Bonn meeting is a stage for negotiating those targets, the note is silent. Instead it suggests that more bureaucratic work is needed "to deepen the understanding of the full nature and scale of such impacts."

But outside the Bonn process, other experts have been much more blunt about the draconian nature of the measures they deem necessary to make "effective" greenhouse gas reductions.

In an influential but highly controversial paper called "Key Elements of a Global Deal on Climate Change," British economist Nicholas Lord Stern, formerly a high British Treasury official, has declared that industrial economies would need to cut their per capita carbon dioxide emissions by "at least 80% by 2050," while the biggest economies, like the U.S.'s, would have to make cuts of 90 percent.

Stern also calls for "immediate and binding" reduction targets for developed nations of 20 percent to 40 percent by 2020.

To meet Stern's 2050 goals, he says, among other things, "most of the world's electricity production will need to have been decarbonized."

By way of comparison, according to the U.S. Department Of Energy, roughly 72 percent of U.S. electrical power generation in 2007 was derived from burning fossil fuels, with just 6 percent coming from hydro-power and less than 3 percent from non-nuclear renewable and "other" sources. And even then, those "other" non-fossil sources included wood and biomass — which, when burned, are major emitters of carbon.

George Russell is executive editor of FOX News

March 26, 2009

Rockefeller: Internet is “Number One National Hazard”

House Passes Mandatory National Service Bill

Legislation intensifies fears about Obama's civilian national security force

House Passes Mandatory National Service Bill 190309top

Paul Joseph Watson

The House passed a bill yesterday which includes disturbing language indicating young people will be forced to undertake mandatory national service programs as fears about President Barack Obama's promised "civilian national security force" intensify.

The Generations Invigorating Volunteerism and Education Act, known as the GIVE Act, was passed yesterday by a 321-105 margin and now goes to the Senate.

Under section 6104 of the bill, entitled "Duties," in subsection B6, the legislation states that a commission will be set up to investigate, "Whether a workable, fair, and reasonable mandatory service requirement for all able young people could be developed, and how such a requirement could be implemented in a manner that would strengthen the social fabric of the Nation and overcome civic challenges by bringing together people from diverse economic, ethnic, and educational backgrounds."

Section 120 of the bill also discusses the "Youth Engagement Zone Program" and states that "service learning" will be "a mandatory part of the curriculum in all of the secondary schools served by the local educational agency."

"The legislation, slated to cost $6 billion over five years, would create 175,000 "new service opportunities" under AmeriCorps, bringing the number of participants in the national volunteer program to 250,000. It would also create additional "corps" to expand the reach of volunteerism into new sectors, including a Clean Energy Corps, Education Corps, Healthy Futures Corps and Veterans Service Corps, and it expands the National Civilian Community Corps to focus on additional areas like disaster relief and energy conservation," reports Fox News.

The Senate is also considering a similar piece of legislation known as the "Serve America Act," which also includes language about "Youth Engagement Zones".

Fears about Obama's plans to create involuntary servitude were first stoked in July 2008, when Obama told a rally in Colorado Springs, "We cannot continue to rely on our military in order to achieve the national security objectives we've set. We've got to have a civilian national security force that is just as powerful, just as strong, just as well funded."

Despite denials that Obama plans to institute a mandatory program of national service, his original website stated that Americans would be "required" to complete "50 hours of community service in middle school and high school and 100 hours of community service in college every year". The text was only later changed to state that Americans would be "encouraged" to undertake such programs.

In addition, Obama's Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel, publicly stated his intention to help create "universal civil defense training" in 2006.

"The bill's opponents — and there are only a few in Congress — say it could cram ideology down the throats of young "volunteers," many of whom could be forced into service since the bill creates a "Congressional Commission on Civic Service," reports Fox.

"We contribute our time and money under no government coercion on a scale the rest of the world doesn't emulate and probably can't imagine," said Luke Sheahan, contributing editor for the Family Security Foundation. "The idea that government should order its people to perform acts of charity is contrary to the idea of charity and it removes the responsibility for charity from the people to the government, destroying private initiative."

Lee Cary of the conservative American Thinker warns that Obama's agenda is to, "tap into the already active volunteerism of millions of Americans and recruit them to become cogs in a gigantic government machine grinding out his social re-engineering agenda."

CFR luminary Gary Hart hit back at critics, claiming in a Huffington Post piece that, "Resistance to expanded public service programs can be expected from the ideologically sclerotic, those who occupy the negative ground between government as the problem and government as our enemy."

China calls for new reserve currency

By Jamil Anderlini in Beijing

China's central bank on Monday proposed replacing the US dollar as the international reserve currency with a new global system controlled by the International Monetary Fund.

In an essay posted on the People's Bank of China's website, Zhou Xiaochuan, the central bank's governor, said the goal would be to create a reserve currency "that is disconnected from individual nations and is able to remain stable in the long run, thus removing the inherent deficiencies caused by using credit-based national currencies".

Analysts said the proposal was an indication of Beijing's fears that actions being taken to save the domestic US economy would have a negative impact on China.

"This is a clear sign that China, as the largest holder of US dollar financial assets, is concerned about the potential inflationary risk of the US Federal Reserve printing money," said Qu Hongbin, chief China economist for HSBC.

Although Mr Zhou did not mention the US dollar, the essay gave a pointed critique of the current dollar-dominated monetary system.

"The outbreak of the [current] crisis and its spillover to the entire world reflected the inherent vulnerabilities and systemic risks in the existing international monetary system," Mr Zhou wrote.

China has little choice but to hold the bulk of its $2,000bn of foreign exchange reserves in US dollars, and this is unlikely to change in the near future.

To replace the current system, Mr Zhou suggested expanding the role of special drawing rights, which were introduced by the IMF in 1969 to support the Bretton Woods fixed exchange rate regime but became less relevant once that collapsed in the 1970s.

Today, the value of SDRs is based on a basket of four currencies – the US dollar, yen, euro and sterling – and they are used largely as a unit of account by the IMF and some other international organisations.

China's proposal would expand the basket of currencies forming the basis of SDR valuation to all major economies and set up a settlement system between SDRs and other currencies so they could be used in international trade and financial transactions.

Countries would entrust a portion of their SDR reserves to the IMF to manage collectively on their behalf and SDRs would gradually replace existing reserve currencies.

Mr Zhou said the proposal would require "extraordinary political vision and courage" and acknowledged a debt to John Maynard Keynes, who made a similar suggestion in the 1940s.

"Unafraid" of Internet, China appears to block YouTube

BEIJING (Reuters) - China is not afraid of the Internet, its Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday, even as access to the popular video sharing site YouTube appeared to be blocked.

YouTube has unavailable for users in China, which filters the Internet for content critical of Communist Party rule, since late on Monday.

"Many people have a false impression that the Chinese government fears the Internet. In fact it is just the opposite," Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang told reporters.

Qin said China's 300 million Internet users and 100 million blogs showed that "China's internet is open enough, but also needs to be regulated by law in order to prevent the spread of harmful information and for national security."

He said he did not know about YouTube being blocked.

Access to YouTube had been spotty earlier in March, the one-year anniversary of widespread protests by Tibetans against Chinese rule.

An Internet crackdown that began in January has closed hundreds of Chinese sites, including a popular blog hosting site and several sites popular with Tibetans.

It has been described by analysts as another step in the Party's battle to stifle dissent in a year of sensitive anniversaries, including the 20th anniversary of the government's bloody crackdown on the pro-democracy Tiananmen Square protests in 1989.

(Reporting by Lucy Hornby; Editing by Nick Macfie)

Can Private Security Guards Act As Cops?

That's Exactly What They May Soon Be Doing On The Far South Side

They're private security guards, already on patrol, but they may soon have the powers of Chicago Police officers.

As CBS 2 Chief Correspondent Jay Levine reports, the private security officers now on patrol on the city's Far South Side are expected to have their powers expanded as part of a citywide ordinance now being prepared.

But officials are questioning whether this means public safety is being outsourced.

Mayor Richard M. Daley has already privatized many city functions. The Chicago Skyway has been leased to a Spanish conglomerate. Midway Airport is run by a Canadian company. The parking meters were sold to a firm run by Morgan Stanley, and as a result, the cost of parking in the city has skyrocketed.

But the question is whether another foreign firm providing cops on patrol may be privatization gone too far.

A single squad car, marked "special patrol," cruises up and down a small commercial strip on far south Michigan Avenue tonight. Its patrol area is between 100th and 116th streets, and area merchants have their doubts.

"As good as they may be, I don't think they probably have all the training that a policeman would have," said business owner Howard Bolling.

But the security guards are not supposed to replace Chicago Police officers, according to the alderman writing the ordinance. He said the enforcement powers of the private security group would remain highly limited.

"No traffic violations such as moving violations – such as moving violations. Small things – illegally parked, blocking the parking," said Ald. Anthony Beale (9th).

That wasn't exactly what Mayor Daley thought when he was asked about it on Saturday. He said the security force would have the power to enforce "moving violations and citations including loitering, littering and graffiti."

This means they're still working on it. But Beale was asked what would happen when they security officers tried to detain someone who didn't want to be detained and didn't respect their authority as they would a police officer's.

"Next thing you know, guns are drawn, and you have a real problem," Levine posited.

Replied Beale: "I'm not going to say what the future may hold. We can all predict unforeseen situations."

Mayor Daley said the city would benefit from the extra patrols.

"It's not a bad idea. You maybe have to refine it, but it's not a bad idea," the mayor said.

With Chicago Police stretched so thin, just having a few extra cars and extra uniforms is comforting to some people. The J. Carolina Hosiery store, for example, was robbed 14 times in the last year.

"The stores are being robbed, and then they're getting extorted, and you have the little gangbangers running in and out of stores trying to rob people," said store supervisor Larry McCullough.

Since the private security patrols arrived, the robberies have continued, "but it's slowing down, because it seems like more of the stores have to have their own guns and their own security."

In addition to the Fraternal Order of Police being against it, experts tell CBS 2 that asking private security guards to conduct police functions is dangerous, and potentially fatal, with most security guards paid much less and receive less training. Chicago's Police Supt. Jody Weis calls it all a work in progress.

"Let's be creative," Weis said. "If we can have police officers focusing on higher priority cases, it's worth talking about."

CBS 2 wanted to ask the Toronto-based firm which was the lowest bidder for contracts in the 9th and 10th wards about the background and training of its officers. Also in question was is how much experience the Canadian company has with the inner city problems which make the Roseland community a challenge for even the most streetwise Chicago Police professionals. The firm has not yet returned calls.

(© MMIX, CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.)

Still Standing: The Building That Proves WTC 7 Was Imploded

Still Standing: The Building That Proves WTC 7 Was Imploded 100209top3

Council uses spy plane with thermal imaging camera to snoop on homes wasting energy

The Daily Mail, The Mail on Sunday, Evening Standard & Metro Media Group

By Andrew Levy

Our movements are already tracked by CCTV, speed cameras and even spies in dustbins.

Now snooping on the public has reached new heights with local authorities putting spy planes in the air to snoop on homeowners who are wasting too much energy.

Thermal imaging cameras are being used to create colour-coded maps which will enable council officers to identify offenders and pay them a visit to educate them about the harm to the environment and measures they can take.

A council has spent £30,000 using a spy plane carrying a thermal camera to determine which homes are wasting energy. (File photo)

A scheme is already under way in Broadland District Council in Norfolk, which has spent £30,000 hiring a plane with a thermal imaging camera.

It said the exercise has been so successful other local authorities are planning to follow suit.

But critics have warned the crackdown was another example of local authorities extending their charter to poke their noses into every aspect of people's lives.

Broadland, which covers towns including Aylsham, Reepham and Acle, hired the plane from a Leicestershire-based company for five days at the end of January.

The aircraft took images of homes and businesses, with those losing the most heat showing up as red, while better insulated properties appear blue.

The council's head of environmental services, Andy Jarvis, said the original plan was to target businesses but it was realised the scope could be extended to include residental properties.

'The project we put together was for a plane to go up on various nights flying strips of the district and taking pictures,' he said.

'Through those images, a thermal image photograph can be created in which you can pick out individual properties which are losing a lot of heat.

'We do a lot on domestic energy conservation already and realised it would be useful to see if any of the homes which were particularly hot were properties where people had not insulated their lofts.

'We were also able to look at very cold properties and think we might have picked up people on low incomes who are not heating their homes because they cannot afford to.'

More than half the UK's carbon dioxide emissions come from the domestic sector, which includes property and transport.

Almost 60 per cent of a household's heat is lost through uninsulated walls, lofts and windows, costing the average home £380 a year.

Insulation is estimated to reduce each home's carbon emissions by around two tonnes annually.

The first city in the UK to make a heat-loss map was Aberdeen, while the first local authority in England was Haringey Council, in London - although environmental groups at that time said they viewed the practice as a 'gimmick' of little real value.

The TaxPayers' Alliance has added concerns about the issue of privacy.

Chief executive Matthew Elliott said: 'People are sick and tired of being heckled and spied on by local government and this council has shown an utter disregard for the man on the street.'

He added: 'We're in a recession and you would have thought this council had better ways to spend £30,000.

'Taxpayers are already footing the bill for innumerable advertising campaigns at a time when families are struggling to make ends meet.'

But Conservative-led Broadlands insisted the heat-loss map would allow officers to pinpoint offenders and point out how to get help and grants to improve insulation to cut carbon emissions.

Council leader Simon Woodbridge said the project would 'effectively pay for itself within a few weeks in terms of the amounts of money we can help people to save'.

Lib Dem group leader Stuart Beadle added: 'Cameras are in place all over today and we have to accept them. So long as the right guidelines are in place and it will bring benefits, I think the scheme is a good thing.'

Britain now has more than four million CCTV cameras - a fifth of those in use around the world - and around 8,000 speed cameras.

Almost 500 local authorities have been using anti-terrorism powers brought in under the controversial Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act to launch a string of bizarre investigations.

These have included checks on dog fouling, putting bins out on the wrong day and people trying to cheat school catchment area rules.

March 21, 2009

Is this the end of America?

By Terence Corcoran

Helicopter Ben Bernanke's Federal Reserve is dropping trillions of fresh paper dollars on the world economy, the President of the United States is cracking jokes on late night comedy shows, his energy minister is threatening a trade war over carbon emissions, his treasury secretary is dithering over a banking reform program amid rising concerns over his competence and a monumentally dysfunctional U.S. Congress is launching another public jihad against corporations and bankers.

As an aghast world — from China to Chicago and Chihuahua — watches, the circus-like U.S. political system seems to be declining into near chaos. Through it all, stock and financial markets are paralyzed. The more the policy regime does, the worse the outlook gets. The multi-ringed spectacle raises a disturbing question in many minds: Is this the end of America?

Probably not, if only because there are good reasons for optimism.

U.N. panel says world should ditch dollar

LUXEMBOURG (Reuters) - A U.N. panel will next week recommend that the world ditch the dollar as its reserve currency in favor of a shared basket of currencies, a member of the panel said on Wednesday, adding to pressure on the dollar.

Currency specialist Avinash Persaud, a member of the panel of experts, told a Reuters Funds Summit in Luxembourg that the proposal was to create something like the old Ecu, or European currency unit, that was a hard-traded, weighted basket.

Persaud, chairman of consultants Intelligence Capital and a former currency chief at JPMorgan, said the recommendation would be one of a number delivered to the United Nations on March 25 by the U.N. Commission of Experts on International Financial Reform.

"It is a good moment to move to a shared reserve currency," he said.

Central banks hold their reserves in a variety of currencies and gold, but the dollar has dominated as the most convincing store of value -- though its rate has wavered in recent years as the United States ran up huge twin budget and external deficits.

Some analysts said news of the U.N. panel's recommendation extended dollar losses because it fed into concerns about the future of the greenback as the main global reserve currency, raising the chances of central bank sales of dollar holdings.

"Speculation that major central banks would begin rebalancing their FX reserves has risen since the intensification of the dollar's slide between 2002 and mid-2008," CMC Markets said in a note.

Russia is also planning to propose the creation of a new reserve currency, to be issued by international financial institutions, at the April G20 meeting, according to the text of its proposals published on Monday.

It has significantly reduced the dollar's share in its own reserves in recent years.


Persaud said that the United States was concerned that holding the reserve currency made it impossible to run policy, while the rest of world was also unhappy with the generally declining dollar.

"There is a moment that can be grasped for change," he said.

"Today the Americans complain that when the world wants to save, it means a deficit. A shared (reserve) would reduce the possibility of global imbalances."

Persaud said the panel had been looking at using something like an expanded Special Drawing Right, originally created by the International Monetary Fund in 1969 but now used mainly as an accounting unit within similar organizations.

The SDR and the old Ecu are essentially combinations of currencies, weighted to a constituent's economic clout, which can be valued against other currencies and indeed against those inside the basket.

Persaud said there were two main reasons why policymakers might consider such a move, one being the current desire for a change from the dollar.

The other reason, he said, was the success of the euro, which incorporated a number of currencies but roughly speaking held on to the stability of the old German deutschemark compared with, say, the Greek drachma.

Persaud has long argued that the dollar would give way to the Chinese yuan as a global reserve currency within decades.

A shared reserve currency might negate this move, he said, but he believed that China would still like to take on the role.

(To read Reuters Global Investing Blog click here; for the MacroScope Blog click on; for Hedge Fund Hub click on

(editing by Patrick Graham)

Army Investigating How and Why Troops Were Sent Into Alabama Town After Murder Spree

U.S. Army soldiers from Ft. Rucker patrol the downtown area of Samson, Alabama after a shooting spree March 10, 2009. (Photo: Reuters/Mark Wallheiser. Used by permission. )
By Pete Winn, Senior Writer/Editor

The U.S. Army has launched an inquiry into how and why active duty troops from Fort Rucker, Ala., came to be placed on the streets of Samson, Ala., during last week's murder spree in that tiny South Alabama community. The use of the troops was a possible violation of federal law.
"On March 10, after a report of an apparent mass murder in Samson, Ala., 22 military police soldiers from Fort Rucker, Ala., along with the provost marshal, were sent to the city of Samson," Harvey Perritt, spokesman for the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) at Fort Monroe, Va., told on Monday.
"The purpose for sending the military police, the authority for doing so, and what duties they performed is the subject of an ongoing commander's inquiry--directed by the commanding general of U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, Gen. Martin Dempsey."
TRADOC is the headquarters command for Ft. Rucker.
"In addition to determining the facts, this inquiry will also determine whether law, regulation and policy were followed," Perritt added. "Until those facts are determined, it would be inappropriate to speculate or comment further."
Jim Stromenger, a dispatcher at the Samson Police Department, confirmed the MP's presence in the town, telling that the troops "came in to help with traffic control and to secure the crime scene"--and the department was glad for the help.
"We've been getting a lot of calls," Stromenger said. "They weren't here to police, let me make that clear. They were here to help with traffic and to control the crime scene--so people wouldn't trample all over (it)."
Stromenger said the town needed help--calls had gone out to all police departments in the area.
"We only have a five-man police department," he told "We had officers from all surrounding areas helping out. There were a lot of streets to be blocked off and there had to be someone physically there to block them off. That's what these MPs were doing. I don't think they were even armed. The troops helped keep nosy people away."
But Stromenger said it wasn't the Samson Police Department that called for the troops.
"I don't know who called Fort Rucker. But someone did. They wouldn't have been able to come if someone hadn't," he added.
Under Whose Authority?
The troops were apparently not deployed by the request of Alabama Gov. Bob Riley -- or by the request of President Obama, as required by law. 

When contacted by, the governor's office could not confirm that the governor had requested help from the Army, and Gov. Riley's spokesman, Todd Stacy, expressed surprise when he was told that troops had been sent to the town.
No request from President Obama, meanwhile, was issued by the White House--or the Defense Department.
Wrongful use of federal troops inside U.S. borders is a violation of several federal laws, including one known as the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878, Title 18, Section 1385 of the U.S. Code.
"Whoever, except in cases and under circumstances expressly authorized by the Constitution or Act of Congress, willfully uses any part of the Army or the Air Force as a posse comitatus or otherwise to execute the laws shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than two years, or both," the law states.
David Rittgers, legal policy analyst at the Cato Institute, said there are other laws barring use of federal troops outside of federal property, as well.
"Title 18, Section 375 of the U.S. Code is a direct restriction on military personnel, and it basically precludes any member of the army in participating in a 'search, seizure, arrest or other similar activity, unless participation is otherwise authorized by law,' " Rittgers told
"The security of a crime scene is something I think that would roll up in the category of a 'search, seizure or other activity,'" Rittgers added.
In addition, there is the Insurrection Act of 1808, as amended in 2007, (Title 10, Section 331 of the U.S. Code) under which the president can authorize troops "to restore order and enforce the laws of the United States" in an insurrection.
"Whenever there is an insurrection in any State against its government, the President may, upon the request of its legislature or of its governor if the legislature cannot be convened, call into federal service such of the militia of the other States, in the number requested by that State, and use such of the armed forces, as he considers necessary to suppress the insurrection," the law states.
In 2007, Congress expanded the list to include "natural disaster, epidemic, or other serious public health emergency, terrorist attack or incident, or other condition" as situations for which the president can authorize troops, provided that  "domestic violence has occurred to such an extent that the constituted authorities of the state or possession are incapable of maintaining public order." 
Congress has been clear that the use of U.S. troops for civilian police purposes is forbidden.
"One of the statutes explicitly says that military brigs can't even be used to detain domestic criminals," Rittgers said. "It really is supposed to be a black and white line."
The U.S. Department of Justice, meanwhile, would have prosecuting authority, if any violation is deemed to have occurred. The Justice Department did not comment for this story. 
Ft. Rucker, located in Southern Alabama, is the home of Army Aviation.

March 17, 2009

The Obama Deception

Air Force Planning Giant Spy Airship

Chicago Tribune

WASHINGTON - The next Air Force spy craft is likely to be a giant, unmanned dirigible that can remain aloft at high altitudes, keeping an unblinking watch on vehicles, planes and even people.

The dirigible is the brainchild of the U.S. Air Force and the Pentagon's research arm, which together will spend $400 million to develop a prototype that could pave the way for a fleet of spy airships, military officials said Thursday.

The plans represent the final stage of work to develop a giant airborne radar system capable of providing ground operators with intricate detail over vast expanses, even if the dirigible is hundreds of miles from its target.

The project reflects a recent shift in Pentagon planning and spending priorities under Defense Secretary Robert  Gates who has urged the military services to improve intelligence and surveillance operations, while cutting high-tech weaponry costs.

However, it marks the return to a form of flight that has stirred anxiety and doubt since the deadly 1937 disaster involving the Hindenburg. In Iraq, the military has used less-sophisticated tethered blimps called aerostats to conduct surveillance around military bases.

Unlike other surveillance platforms, the proposed airship will stay aloft for 10 years and provide a constant watch over an area, Air Force officials said.

"It is absolutely revolutionary," said Werner Dahm, chief scientist for the Air Force. "It is a cross between a satellite and a Global Hawk (spy plane)."

The airship will fly at 65,000 feet, or 12 miles, beyond the range of any handheld missile, and safe from most fighter planes.

At that height, it would be nearly impossible to see. But the dirigible could be vulnerable to some surface-to-air missiles, and would be unable to maneuver out of the way. Nonetheless, the airship's range will allow it to operate at distant edges of any military theater, likely out of the range of many missiles.

The airship would provide the military a much better understanding of an adversary's movements, habits and tactics, officials said. The ability to constantly monitor small movements in a wide area - like the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, for example - will dramatically improve military intelligence, officials said.

"It is constant surveillance, uninterrupted," Dahm said. "To be able to observe over a long period of time, you get a much better understanding of how an adversary operates. When you only have a short-time view - whether it is a few hours or a few days - that is not enough to put the picture together."

The dirigible will be filled with helium and powered by an innovative system that uses solar panels to recharge hydrogen fuel cells. Military officials said those underlying technologies, including a very light hull and low power transmitters, were critical to making the project work.

"The things we had to do here were not trivial, they were revolutionary," said Jan Walker, a spokeswoman for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

The final version of the airship will be about 450 feet long. However, the prototype will be only a third of that size. The craft is known to military planners as ISIS, or Integrated Sensor Is the Structure, referring to the radar system built into the structure of the craft.


The ISIS has a hull made of a lightweight, thick skin. Zeppelins - like the Hindenburg - have a rigid external structure. Blimps are not rigid, and are given their shape from the pressure of the helium gas. According to military, the ISIS is closer to a blimp than a zeppelin, but officials most frequently call it an airship. "Airship," like "dirigible," is a broader term.

The Air Force has signed an agreement to develop a demonstration dirigible along with the defense research agency. Due to be finished by 2014, the Air Force will begin to use the prototype after an initial three-month testing period. The military has not yet designated a contractor. The Air Force's intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance - or ISR - abilities have improved dramatically in the last five years with the expanded use of Predators and other drones. Although Air Force drones can linger over an area for a long time, they do not watch constantly.

The radar system is what gives the new airship its value to military planners.

"Being able to observe threats with a very large radar in the sky we have the ability to see things much better," Dahm said. "Being able to watch those things, understand what is happening, is really the game-changing piece here."

March 7, 2009

LIFE WITH BIG BROTHER: Radio chip coming soon to your driver's license?

Homeland Security seeks next-generation REAL ID

By Bob Unruh
© 2009 WorldNetDaily

Washington state's enhanced driver's license

Privacy advocates are issuing warnings about a new radio chip plan that ultimately could provide electronic identification for every adult in the U.S. and allow agents to compile attendance lists at anti-government rallies simply by walking through the assembly.

The proposal, which has earned the support of Janet Napolitano, the newly chosen chief of the Department of Homeland Security, would embed radio chips in driver's licenses, or "enhanced driver's licenses."

"Enhanced driver's licenses give confidence that the person holding the card is the person who is supposed to be holding the card, and it's less elaborate than REAL ID," Napolitano said in a Washington Times report.

REAL ID is a plan for a federal identification system standardized across the nation that so alarmed governors many states have adopted formal plans to oppose it. However, a privacy advocate today told WND that the EDLs are many times worse.

Radio talk show host and identity chip expert Katherine Albrecht said REAL ID earned the opposition of Christians because of its resemblance to the biblical "mark of the beast," civil libertarians opposed it for its "big brother" connotations and others worried about identity theft issues with the proposed databases.

"We got rid of the REAL ID program, but [this one] is way more insidious," she said.

Yes, Big Brother is watching! Find out more in "Spychips: How Major Corporations and Government plan to Track your every Move"

Enhanced driver's licenses have built-in radio chips providing an identifying number or information that can be accessed by a remote reading unit while the license is inside a wallet or purse.

The technology already had been implemented in Washington state, where it is promoted as an alternative to a passport for traveling to Canada. So far, the program is optional.

But there are other agreements already approved with Michigan, Vermont, New York and Arizona, and plans are under way in other states, including Texas, she said.

Napolitano, as Arizona's governor, was against the REAL ID, Albrecht said. Now, as chief of Homeland Security, she is suggesting the more aggressive electronic ID of Americans.

"She's coming out and saying, 'OK, OK, OK, you win. We won't do REAL ID. But what we probably ought to do is nationwide enhanced driver's licenses,'" Albrecht told WND.

"They're actually talking about issuing every person a spychip driver's license," she said. "That is the potential problem."

Imagine, she said, going to a First Amendment-protected event, a church or a mosque, or even a gun show or a peace rally.

Katherine Albrecht

"What happens to all those people when a government operator carrying a reading device makes a circuit of the event?" she asked. "They could download all those unique ID numbers and link them."

Participants could find themselves on "watch" lists or their attendance at protests or rallies added to their government "dossier."

She said even if such license programs are run by states, there's virtually no way that the databases would not be linked and accessible to the federal government.

Albrecht said a hint of what is on the agenda was provided recently by California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. The state's legislature approved a plan banning the government from using any radio chips in any ID documentation.

Schwarzenegger's veto noted he did not want to interfere with any coming or future federal programs for identifying people.

Albrecht's recent guest on her radio program was Michigan State Rep. Paul Opsommer, who said the government appears to be using a national anti-terrorism plan requiring people to document their identities as they enter the United States to promote the technology.

"The Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative was … just about proving you were a citizen, not that you had to do it by any specific kind of technology," Opsommer said.

But he said, "We are close to the point now that if you don't want RFID in any of your documents that you can't leave the country or get back into it."

Opsommer said his own state sought an exception to the growing federal move toward driver's licenses with an electronic ID chip, and he was told that was "unlikely."

He was told, "They were trying to harmonize these standards with Canada and Mexico [so] it had to apply to everybody. I was absolutely dumbfounded."

WND previously has reported on such chips when hospitals used them to identify newborns, a company desired to embed immigrants with the electronic devices, a government health event showcased them and when Wal-Mart used microchips to track customers.

Albrecht, who has worked on issues involving radio chip implants, REAL-ID, "Spychips" and other devices, provided a platform for Opsommer to talk about drivers licenses that include radio transmitters that provide identity information about the carrier. She is active with the and websites.

Opsommer said he's been trying for several years to gain permission for his state to develop its own secure license without a radio chip.

"They have flat out refused, and their reasoning is all about the need for what they call 'facilitative technology,' which they then determined was RFID," he said during the recent interview.

According to the U.S. State Department, which regulates international travel requirements, U.S. citizens now "must show proof of identity and proof of U.S. citizenship when entering the United States from Canada, Mexico, Bermuda and the countries of the Caribbean by land or seas."

Documentation could be a U.S. passport or other paperwork such as birth certificates or drivers' licenses. But as of this summer, one of the options for returning residents will be an "Enhanced Driver's License."

The rules are being promulgated under the outline of the WHTI, a result of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004, which requires travelers to present a passport or other identity documents on entry into the U.S.

While the government has expressed confidence that no personal or critical information will be revealed through the system, it also says drivers will need special information on how to use, carry and protect the radio-embedded licenses as well as "a shielded container that will prevent anyone from reading your license."

But Albrecht, the author or co-author of six books and videos, including the award-winning "Spychips: How major corporations and government plan to track your every move with RFID," warns it goes much further.

"This must be nipped in the bud. Enhanced DL's make REAL ID look like a walk in the park," Albrecht said.

"Look, I am all in favor of only giving drivers licenses to U.S. citizens or people that are otherwise here in this country legally," Opsommer said, "But we are already doing that in Michigan. We accomplished that without an EDL, as has virtually every other state via their own state laws.

"But just because we choose to only issue our license to U.S. citizens does not mean that our licenses should somehow then fall under federal control. It's still a state document, we are just controlling who we issue them to. But under the EDL program, the Department of Homeland Security is saying that making sure illegals don't get these is not enough. Now you need the chip to prove your citizenship," he continued.

Opsommer further warned the electronic chips embedded in licenses to confirm identity are just the first step.

"Canadians are also more connected to what is going on in Britain with the expansion of the national ID program there, and have seen the mission creep that occurs with things like gun control first hand … Whatever the reason, as an example, just last week the Canadian government repatriated a database from the U.S. that contained the driver's license data of their citizens," he said.

"Someone finally woke up and realized it would not be a good idea for that to be on American soil … I think it is only logical that we as state legislators really understand how the governments of Mexico and Canada will have access to our own citizen's data. Right now it is very ambiguous and even difficult for me to get answers on as a state representative."

But Opsommer said Big Brother concerns certainly have some foundation.

"So if EDLs are the new direction for secure licenses in all states, it just reinforces what many have been telling me that DHS wants to expand this program and turn it into a wireless national ID with a different name," he said. "We'll wake up one day and without a vote in Congress DHS will just pass a rule and say something like 'starting next month you will need an EDL to fly on a plane, or to buy a gun, or whatever.'"

Company Works to Bury Blackwater Reputation

Record 31.8 million on food stamps

Government shows increase of 700,000 food stamp recipients in a single month.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- A record 31.8 million Americans received food stamps at the latest count, an increase of 700,000 people in one month with the United States in recession, government figures showed Thursday.

Food stamps, which help poor people buy groceries, are the major U.S. anti-hunger program, forecast to cost at least $51 billion in this fiscal year ending Sept. 30, up $10 billion from fiscal 2008.

"A weakened economy means that many more individuals are turning to SNAP/food stamps," said the Food Research and Action Center. Last summer food stamps were renamed the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP.

The average food stamp benefit is $115 a month for individuals and $255 a month per household.

Enrollment for food stamps in December was up 2.2% from the previous month with increases in all but three states. Ohio had the largest increase among large states, up 3.4%, to 1.26 million people. Texas had the largest enrollment, 3.05 million, up 1.8%.

The previous record for food stamp enrollment was 31.6 million last September, which included "disaster" stamps for states hit by hurricanes and floods.

In April, food stamp benefits will increase temporarily by 13% under provisions of the recently enacted economic stimulus law. Ellen Vollenger of the Food Research and Action Center said some families will see increases of $80 a month.


Unemployment hits 25-year high


THE Queen is to give Barack Obama a private “getting-to-know-you” audience next month

Talks ... Queen yesterday

Political Editor


THE Queen is to give Barack Obama a private “getting-to-know-you” audience next month.



Her Majesty will meet the new US President in advance of an economic summit in London.

The private meeting is highly unusual because Mr Obama will not be on a State visit.

But advisers believe it is important the Queen — who opened an interchange in Hull yesterday — meets him before any official trip.

Visit ... Barack Obama

Visit ... Barack Obama

A source said: “There is a wish to do these things as discreetly as possible in the first instance.”

President Obama, famed for his Yes We Can slogan, will fly with wife Michelle on Air Force One to Stansted, Essex.

The private talks will be held the next day at Buckingham Palace.

Mr Obama will then join the G20 leaders for a Downing Street dinner on the eve of the summit on April 2.

Last night it emerged he gave Gordon Brown 25 top US movies as a gift after talks in the US.

Mr Brown’s wife Sarah gave Mr Obama’s two daughters Topshop outfits. And the First Lady gave Mr Brown’s two boys toy helicopters.


Russian scholar says US will collapse _ next year

Associated Press Writer



MOSCOW (AP) - If you're inclined to believe Igor Panarin, and the Kremlin wouldn't mind if you did, then President Barack Obama will order martial law this year, the U.S. will split into six rump-states before 2011, and Russia and China will become the backbones of a new world order.

Panarin might be easy to ignore but for the fact that he is a dean at the Foreign Ministry's school for future diplomats and a regular on Russia's state-guided TV channels. And his predictions fit into the anti-American story line of the Kremlin leadership.

"There is a high probability that the collapse of the United States will occur by 2010," Panarin told dozens of students, professors and diplomats Tuesday at the Diplomatic Academy—a lecture the ministry pointedly invited The Associated Press and other foreign media to attend.

The prediction from Panarin, a former spokesman for Russia's Federal Space Agency and reportedly an ex-KGB analyst, meshes with the negative view of the U.S. that has been flowing from the Kremlin in recent years, in particular from Vladimir Putin.

Putin, the former president who is now prime minister, has likened the United States to Nazi Germany's Third Reich and blames Washington for the global financial crisis that has pounded the Russian economy.

Panarin didn't give many specifics on what underlies his analysis, mostly citing newspapers, magazines and other open sources.

He also noted he had been predicting the demise of the world's wealthiest country for more than a decade now.

But he said the recent economic turmoil in the U.S. and other "social and cultural phenomena" led him to nail down a specific timeframe for "The End"—when the United States will break up into six autonomous regions and Alaska will revert to Russian control.

Panarin argued that Americans are in moral decline, saying their great psychological stress is evident from school shootings, the size of the prison population and the number of gay men.

Turning to economic woes, he cited the slide in major stock indexes, the decline in U.S. gross domestic product and Washington's bailout of banking giant Citigroup as evidence that American dominance of global markets has collapsed.

"I was there recently and things are far from good," he said. "What's happened is the collapse of the American dream."

Panarin insisted he didn't wish for a U.S. collapse, but he predicted Russia and China would emerge from the economic turmoil stronger and said the two nations should work together, even to create a new currency to replace the U.S. dollar.

Asked for comment on how the Foreign Ministry views Panarin's theories, a spokesman said all questions had to be submitted in writing and no answers were likely before Wednesday.

It wasn't clear how persuasive the 20-minute lecture was. One instructor asked Panarin whether his predictions more accurately describe Russia, which is undergoing its worst economic crisis in a decade as well as a demographic collapse that has led some scholars to predict the country's demise.

Panarin dismissed that idea: "The collapse of Russia will not occur."

But Alexei Malashenko, a scholar-in-residence at the Carnegie Moscow Center who did not attend the lecture, sided with the skeptical instructor, saying Russia is the country that is on the verge of disintegration.

"I can't imagine at all how the United States could ever fall apart," Malashenko told the AP.