Monthly Archives: January 2008

President Bush Kills Second Amendment For Veterans

Richard Simon
Los Angeles Times
January 8, 2008

A rare piece of gun legislation finds the National Rifle Association and the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence on the same side, and President Bush signed such a bill Tuesday.

The measure, Congress’ response to last year’s Virginia Tech shootings, is the first significant federal legislation in years aimed at tightening gun laws. It seeks to expand the federal database used to screen gun buyers to include the estimated 2 million-plus people, including felons and mentally ill individuals, who are ineligible to buy firearms.

“It’s the first gun-control legislation of any sort that Congress has passed in over 12 years,” said Paul Helmke, president of the Brady Campaign.

But the measure has created an unusual rift among gun-control groups.

Kristen Rand, legislative director of the Violence Policy Center, said there was “far more bad in this bill than good,” expressing concern about a provision that could restore gun-owning privileges to some people now prohibited from purchasing firearms.

“It’s certainly not this huge victory that the Brady Campaign is making it out to be,” said Joshua Horwitz, executive director of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence.

The bill represents a shift from the last major gun measure, which shielded gun makers and sellers from lawsuits arising from misuse of their weapons. It was passed in 2005 by a Republican-controlled Congress and signed by Bush. The year before, Congress allowed the 10-year-old ban on assault weapons to expire.

The legislation signed Tuesday, designed to improve the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, was the first gun measure to emerge since Democrats took over the House and the Senate a year ago. It was passed last month, in the waning hours of the 2007 legislative session.

Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, D-N.Y., one of the bill’s sponsors, said it would “close the wide gaps in our nation’s firearm background-check system to ensure violent criminals and the mentally ill no longer slip through the cracks and gain access to dangerous weapons.”

Said White House spokesman Tony Fratto: “We saw with the terrible shootings at Virginia Tech last year that an incomplete system can have tragic consequences.”

Even with the bill’s enactment, the gun issue is unlikely to gain more prominence on Capitol Hill this year.

Democrats have shied away from the issue since the 2000 election, believing that their presidential candidate, Al Gore, lost support in rural states because he supported gun control.

The issue also doesn’t fall strictly along party lines; eight Democratic senators recently joined 39 Republican senators in calling for repeal of a ban on carrying loaded firearms in national parks and wildlife refuges, saying the restriction “infringes on the rights of law-abiding gun owners.”

Efforts to strengthen the background-check system have been debated for years, but the movement gained momentum after Seung-hui Cho killed 32 students and teachers at Virginia Tech before taking his own life April 16 in the deadliest campus shooting in U.S. history. He had been ordered by a court to undergo outpatient mental-health treatment and should have been barred from buying the two handguns he used in the rampage, but his name was never entered into the background-check system.

A White House-ordered review of the Virginia Tech shootings found that “accurate and complete information on individuals prohibited from possessing firearms is essential to keep guns out of the wrong hands.”

Currently, 17 states provide no mental health records to the background-check system, according to the Justice Department.

The new law takes a carrot-and-stick approach to get states to report people ineligible to buy guns. It authorizes up to $250 million a year for five years to states to help pay the cost of providing the records and then threatens to withhold federal anti-crime funds if the states fail to act.

In addition to the support the bill received from the NRA and the Brady Campaign, it was sponsored by the unlikely pair of McCarthy, a leading gun-control advocate whose husband was killed and son wounded by a gunman on a Long Island train in 1993, and Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., a staunch NRA ally who has helped thwart gun-control legislation in the past.

“While most would say we are an odd pair when it comes to this particular issue, I would suggest we are just two legislators trying to fix a legitimate problem,” Dingell said.

But some gun-control groups aren’t celebrating.

The Violence Policy Center and the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence contend that the Brady Campaign, eager for a victory, conceded too much to the gun lobby.

“This program is just a disaster in the making,” Rand said, arguing that the new law could put guns back in the hands of dangerous people. She said the legislation allows veterans judged to be mentally incompetent to seek to get their gun privileges restored if they can show they are unlikely to endanger public safety or have received treatment and recovered.

Rand also said she was skeptical that Congress would follow through on providing the promised funding for states to enter the records of prohibited gun purchasers. “Frankly, we just don’t trust that the NRA will lift a finger to see that the grant portion of the bill is fully funded,” she said. Some states still might not provide mental health records because of their own privacy laws, she added.

Peter Hamm, a spokesman for the Brady Campaign, described groups like Rand’s as “friends of ours,” adding: “We’re stunned and exasperated that they opposed this legislation.”

The measure’s benefits outweighed its risks, he said, noting that his group is concerned about the millions of mental health records that are not in the database.

The measure also divided gun-rights groups.

Iran Showdown Echoes Faked Gulf Of Tonkin Attack

An Ominous Non-Event: The Gulf of Tonkin and the Strait of Hormuz
by Robert Fantina
Global Research

As the U.S. government continues to demonstrate its inability to learn from history, an alarming report from the Strait of Hormuz was broadcast to the world on January 7. The Associated Press reported the following: “In what U.S. officials called a serious provocation, Iranian boats harassed and provoked three U.S. Navy ships in the strategic Strait of Hormuz, threatening to explode the American vessels.” These Iranian ships are believed to part of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard’s navy, the organization that the U.S. Congress officially decreed a ‘terrorist’ organization.

Those either old enough to remember, or cognizant enough to understand history, will immediately be reminded of the infamous ‘Gulf of Tonkin’ incident, reported on August 2, 1964. On that day, the U.S. destroyer Maddox, on an espionage mission in the Gulf of Tonkin off the Vietnam coast, reported being fired on by North Vietnamese torpedo patrol boats. In response the Maddox fired back, sinking one boat. Tensions in the area were already growing, and now the world watched and waited.

On August 4 of that same year, the Maddox and the C. Turner Joy, another destroyer, were again patrolling the Gulf of Tonkin. Instruments on the Maddox indicated that it was either attacked or was under attack, and both the Maddox and the C. Turner Joy began firing back, with assistance from U.S. air power.

It was less than 24 hours later when the captain concluded that there might not have been an attack; why the instruments indicated otherwise was not clearly explained. The pilot of a Crusader jet, James B. Stockdale, undertook a reconnaissance flight over the gulf that evening. He was asked if he saw any North Vietnamese attack vessels. Mr. Stockdale did not equivocate in his response. Said he: “Not a one. No boats, no wakes, no ricochets off boats, no boat impacts, no torpedo wakes–nothing but black sea and American firepower.”

Yet this non-event, either misinterpreted or fabricated altogether, was seen by an hysterical U.S. Congress, ever willing to protect America from its enemies, real or imagined, as aggression against the U.S. It also provided members of that august body with some additional ‘I’m-strong- on-Communism’ credentials, which were ever in demand from the end of World War II until the dawn of the world’s newest bugaboo, ‘terrorism.’ Congress quickly passed the so-called ‘Gulf of Tonkin Resolution,’ which empowered President Lyndon Johnson to take all measures he deemed necessary to repel aggression. While this was not the start of the Vietnam War, it represented the first major escalation that did not end for over a decade, and cost the lives of over 50,000 U.S. soldiers, and between 1,000,000 and 2,000,000 Vietnamese citizens. It caused havoc with the U.S. economy, brought near-revolution to American streets and campuses and drew hostility towards the U.S. from most of the world.

Today, an unidentified Pentagon official called this ‘incident’ in the Strait of Hormuz “a serious provocation.” Defense Department spokesman Bryan Whitman referred to it as a “serious incident.” Mr. Gordon Johndore, National Security Council spokesman said the United States urges the Iranians “to refrain from such provocative actions that could lead to a dangerous incident in the future.”

It must be remembered that it was just a month ago that the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) determined that Iran ceased its nuclear weapons program four years ago. As President Bush was busy rattling his saber, and apparently itching to start yet another war, the NIE took the wind out of his bloody sails. He huffed and puffed and said, inexplicably, that the NIE report proved that Iran was still a great threat to the U.S., but it seemed that no one took him too seriously. Now, however, we have an ‘incident.’ Obviously, we are told, like in the Gulf of Tonkin 44 years ago, the U.S. has been the victim of ‘aggression.’

It is, of course, unimportant to consider that Iran might understandably be a little trigger-happy when it sees U.S. naval vessels approaching. Just because Iran’s next-door neighbor was invaded by the U.S. without provocation, and now is in the midst of a deadly occupation, should not in any way justify Iran’s wariness. The fact that it was only a year ago that Mr. Bush sent a second aircraft carrier to the Persian Gulf for no other reason than to intimidate Iran, and to participate in ‘war games‘ (an oxymoron if ever there was one) in clear sight of one of the members of Mr. Bush’s ‘axis of evil,’ should simply be ignored by Iran. The fact that the U.S. has a long and violent history of invading countries that displease it in some way (perhaps they have a democratically elected government that does not bow and scrape to the occupant of the White House throne) should not alarm Iran. Mr. Bush and his spokesman have not said that they plan to invade Iran; they simply said
no options are off the table.

One waits in anxious impatience to see how Congress will react. Surely the slowly-dwindling multitudes seeking the Republican and Democratic presidential nominations will race each other to the microphone to denounce Iranian aggression, thus shining their patriotic credentials. Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY), who last fall voted to name Iran’s Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization, can gloat and glow with jingoistic satisfaction that that organization has now proven her right and her critics wrong, at least in her own mind. Perhaps former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, stumbling along on the path if not towards the Republican nomination, at least in its general direction, will endorse whatever Mr. Bush proclaims; after all, Mr. Romney has stated that it is Mr. Bush who has kept America safe (save for one or two unfortunate incidents in September of 2001). Will former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, who never tires of reminding the voters that he and he alone was mayor of New York on September 11 2001 (whatever that may be worth), now raise the specter of Iranian terrorism in the U.S?

One could sit back and laugh at the nonsense proclaimed by the men and women who seek to lead the United States if their actions were not so dangerous. In 1964 an incident not unlike the one that allegedly took place in the Strait of Hormuz on January 8 of this year caused Congress to officially embark on America’s most deadly imperial disaster. ‘Flawed intelligence,’ at best, and outright lies at worst paved the way for the current imperial mess which has the potential to dwarf America’s Vietnam catastrophe. And now, with a lame duck president seeking to salvage his disgraced reputation, one wonders if this reported incident from Iran will have the same effect as the non-incident in the Gulf of Tonkin 44 years ago.

Mr. Bush & Co. have never been particularly interested in facts. They have not had any desire to listen to opposing opinions. They have happily ignored the wishes of the U.S. citizens. They apparently have been very interested in enriching themselves and their cronies, and have focused their desire for riches on oil, at the expense of the blood of their own, and Iraq’s, citizens. They have used fear to get Congress to support their crimes. There is nothing to cause one to think things will be different now. Congress has proved its spinelessness over and over, and we all know that there is no reason for statesmanship when interesting, pander-to-the-fear-of-the-moment sound bytes are so much easier.

Whether or not this current situation leads Congress to justify an invasion of Iran, or other actions that will lead to an invasion, remains to be seen. But the U.S. has not learned from its own history, and another repeat of an unneeded and catastrophic war is not, unfortunately, unthinkable. That the president will not stop it is not surprising; that Congress will be complicit once again is unspeakable.

Iran Showdown Echoes Faked Gulf Of Tonkin Attack
Nick Juliano
Raw Story

A dramatic showdown at sea. Crossed communication signals. Apparently-hostile craft nearby. Sketchy intelligence leading to ratcheted up rhetoric.

The similarities between this week’s confrontation between US warships and Iranian speedboats and events off the coast of North Vietnam 44 years ago were too hard for many experts to miss, leading to the question: Is the Strait of Hormuz 2008’s Gulf of Tonkin?

On Aug. 2nd and 4th, 1964, the USS Maddox and the USS Turner Joy, patrolling off the North Vietnamese coast, intercepted signals indicating they were under attack. Within days, Congress passed the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, which paved the way to the escalation of the Vietnam War. However, as some intelligence agents suspected at the time, the Aug. 2nd attack took place after the USS Maddox fired first, according to a National Security Agency report released in 1995.

This week another NSA report surfaced, confirming suspicions that the Aug. 4th attack never happened.

The researcher who uncovered the most recent NSA assessment tells RAW STORY that the Strait of Hormuz confrontation, and the immediate saber-rattling from the Bush administration and its allies, demonstrates the extent to which officials must be wary about politicizing shaky intelligence in times of war.

“The parallels (between Tonkin and Hormuz) speak for themselves, but what they say is that even the most basic factual assumptions can be made erroneously [or] can prove to be false,” Steven Aftergood of the Federation of American Scientists, told Raw Story. “Therefore extreme caution is always appropriate before drawing conclusions … that might leave to violent conflict. That’s almost so obvious that I feel embarrassed saying it, but there is a history of mistaken interpretations of these kinds of encounters that ought to teach us humility.”

Humility and caution, of course, don’t seem to be the most popular buzz words in the Bush White House.

“It is a dangerous situation. … I think it was a provocative act,” Bush warned two days after a handful of small Iranian speedboats spooked a fleet of US Navy warships.

The Pentagon’s initial account of the Jan. 6 confrontation said the Iranian boats “charged” the US ships, dropped boxes in the water that were thought to be mines and threatened to set up “explosions.” An unnamed US Defense Department official told the Associated Press the day after the incident that it was “the most serious provocation of its sort” in the Gulf, although Iranian officials tried to downplay the incident as a simple misunderstanding.

It was not until Thursday, after the Pentagon and Iran had each released videos of the encounter, that the US acknowledged the verbal threats they had associated with the Iranian speedboats from day one could have been broadcast from virtually anywhere.

“I am coming to you …. You will explode after a few minutes,” a voice says on the audio recording but Farsi speakers and Iranians have said the voice did not sound Iranian.

Aftergood said he was surprised at the uncertainty regarding the origin of that message, which was broadcast on a public communication channel and superimposed onto the end of the Pentagon video.

“One might’ve thought that they would be able to pinpoint it exactly, but it turns out that’s not so,” said Aftergood, who runs FAS’s Project on Government Secrecy. “It’s also surprising that President Bush was permitted to get so far out in front on this issue, even though there were significant uncertainties on what transpired.”

Others have questioned the supposed mines that were claimed to be dropped form the Iranian boats.

“The bit about the ‘white boxes’ being dropped into the water seems almost equally dubious,” writes Glenn Greenwald. “Neither the video of the incident released by the U.S. military, nor the video version released by the Iranian government, includes any such event, nor are there any references to it at all on the audio.”

Aftergood said the information should have been more fully vetted before the White House began warning Iran of “serious consequences” of future showdowns.

“What you hear talking is the child on the schoolyard, not the sober national leader,” he said. “And i don’t think that serves anyone’s interest.”

Aftergood noted that America is less poorly equipped to avoid international incidents than it was during the Cold War.

“The credibility at least of the administration has taken a hit by the way this episode played out,” Aftergood said, but the near-confrontation could provide an opportunity for Bush to learn from his mistakes.

The US has largely given Iran the diplomatic silent treatment during the Bush years, which Aftergood said increases the likelihood that the next Strait of Hormuz-type incident won’t de-escalate so quickly.

“If we could have a hotline with the Kremlin while they had thousands of nuclear weapons aimed at our country, one would think we could do the same for Iran,” he said. “With some skillful statesmanship … this could serve as the impetus for that, but it would be one way to turn a negative into a net positive.”

VeriChip Corporation’s Infant Protection Systems Now Installed In More Than Half Of All Birthing Facilities In Ohio

Article From Verichip Website:

DELRAY BEACH, FL – December 12, 2007 – VeriChip Corporation (Nasdaq: CHIP), a provider of RFID systems for healthcare and patient-related needs, announced today that the Company’s wholly-owned subsidiary, Xmark, recently completed a sale of an infant protection system in the state of Ohio, where Xmark’s infant protection systems are now installed in more than half of all birthing facilities. This install base features systems sold under the Company’s HUGS® brand.

“Our HUGS system, which is the industry standard, continues its sustained growth in maternity wards and birthing centers throughout the U.S.” said Daniel A. Gunther, President and CEO of Xmark. “The expansion of our install base is critical to our ongoing success. From sales to new hospital customers, replacement systems and upgrades to existing systems, we are pleased to be the provider of choice for infant security systems for the majority of hospitals.”

Xmark’s infant protection systems are designed to prevent infant abductions and inadvertent child mismatching. The main component of the systems is a wearable RFID tag that is assigned to child and mother following birth. Monitors positioned throughout the hospital detect the integrity of the tags and location of the child. If a newborn is removed from the ward, if the tag is lifted from the baby’s skin or if the ankle strap is compromised, the system immediately triggers an alarm, alerting hospital security to the situation.

Xmark infant protection systems also protect against mismatching events by affixing matching RFID tags to mother and child. If the mother is given the wrong child, the RFID tag detects the mismatch and activates an audible alarm.

About Xmark

Based in Ottawa, Ontario, Xmark is a wholly owned subsidiary of VeriChip Corporation. For over 25 years, Xmark Corporation has provided Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) solutions to identify, locate, and protect people and assets in healthcare environments. Its market-leading infant protection, wander prevention, personal duress, and asset tracking applications are trusted by over 5,000 healthcare institutions worldwide to keep individuals safe.

Xmark products are installed and serviced through an international network of authorized dealers, backed by a dedicated technical services department at Xmark. All aspects of Xmark’s business are certified to the ISO 9001 quality standard.

About VeriChip

VeriChip Corporation, headquartered in Delray Beach, Florida, develops, markets and sells radio frequency identification, or RFID, systems used to identify, locate and protect people and assets. VeriChip’s goal is to become the leading provider of RFID systems for people in the healthcare industry. The Company recently began marketing its VeriMed(TM) Patient Identification System, a passive RFID system for rapidly and accurately identifying people who arrive in an emergency room and are unable to communicate. This system uses the first human-implantable passive RFID microchip, the implantable VeriChip(TM), cleared for medical use in October 2004 by the United States Food and Drug Administration.

VeriChip Corporation is majority-owned by Applied Digital Solutions Inc. (Nasdaq: ADSX), which also owns a majority position in Digital Angel Corporation (Amex: DOC). Digital Angel, a leader in RFID and GPS technologies, owns the patent on the human implantable, passive RFID microchip and manufactures it for VeriChip.

Fox Ambushes Ron Paul With ‘9/11 Truthers’ Question At South Carolina Debates

By David Edwards and Muriel Kane
The Raw Story

During Thursday night’s Republican debate, after the other candidates had been invited to exchange views on whether the Reagan conservative coalition is now a thing of the past, Fox host Carl Cameron turned to Ron Paul with a very different question.

“Many of your supporters call themselves ‘9/11 Truthers,'” Cameron began. “They believe that the US government was in some way complicit with the 9/11 attacks or covered it up. Are you prepared to either embrace that rhetoric or ask those supporters to abandon it or divorce themselves from your candidacy?”

“Well, I can’t tell people what to do, but I’ve abandoned those viewpoints,” Paul replied. “I don’t believe that, and that’s the only thing that is important. … But I would like to take an opportunity to talk about the issue that we’ve been debating here for the last 20 minutes.”

Rather than letting Paul join in the general discussion, however, Cameron continued to attempt to corner him on the 9/11 question, demanding, “Would you ask them to cease that rhetoric tonight on your behalf?”

“Well, it doesn’t do me any good,” answered Paul, “so if they care about me they should, but the only thing I have control over is what I believe and what I say. I can’t tell them what to do. … So please, could I participate in the current debate …”

This remark was met with cheers and applause, and Paul went on to argue that the Republican Party has lost its way.

“I don’t think we’re fiscal conservatives any more,” Paul stated. “Look at what we’ve done over these last 10 years. We finally got control of the government, and we became big government people. … And then we turn around and we talk about liberty, and we’ve undermined the Fourth Amendment and personal liberty and personal privacy. … We’re policing the world … at the same time our economy is suffering. … So no wonder our coalition is breaking up. We actually have lost our way.”

A full transcript of the debate is available here.

This video is from Fox’s Republican Debate, broadcast January 10, 2008.

Cashless Society Sold To America In The Name Of Convenience

By Michael Difensore

The Cashless Society is being sold to the American people in the name of convenience. The Debit card was a major step towards a cashless society. It was offered to people by banks in the name of convenience. By connecting a persons bank account to the debit card a person no longer needs cash to buy items. This was very convenient and the idea caught on across the United States. Now people use their debit cards as credit to buy almost everything. The invention of the credit card of course really started the move towards a cashless society and the debit card took it to another level. Credit cards and debit cards will be done away with when America goes cashless.

The creation of Direct Deposit was also a major step towards a cashless society. What started out as another option to receive a pay check turned mandatory by most employers. This was first sold as convenience to the American people and currently the idea of picking up a pay check at work is considered old school by most people. For Example the U.S. Army will only pay soldiers if they have a bank account so their paycheck can be direct deposited. Direct Deposit is mandatory.

Self check out is some what new and is another step to a cashless society. While most people I have noticed still like to check out with a cashier it is much more convenient to not wait in long check out lines and go to the empty self check out line. Because of self check out companies no longer have more than one or two cashiers at one time working. This causes long lines when its time to check out. Some of the companies I know of using self check out systems are Home Depot, Giant Eagle, and Walmart. Companies are saving money using self checkout by not paying cashiers hourly wages making this system convenient for corporations as well.

Automatic withdrawal to pay monthly bills is also somewhat new and is another step to a cashless society. Almost every bill a person pays now days has a option to do automatic withdrawal to pay it. Some companies only offer automatic withdrawal. Some examples of mandatory automatic withdrawal are Blockbuster video online and Sirius Satellite Radio. Automatic withdrawal must exist to have a cashless society.

Internet Banking was another step to go cashless. Why go to the bank to do your banking needs when its convenient to stay home and get on the internet. It also saved banks money in bank teller wages payed out. The more Americans use internet banking the less bank tellers are needed to work at the bank. In a cashless society their will not be bank tellers.

Americans need to understand that convenience is not always the right reason to do something. The idea of using implantable micro chips is the way this nightmare cashless society is going to become reality. Verichip one of the first companies to design a implantable microchip under the skin has become more popular across America. It first was sold to the medical field as a way to put a persons medical record on a microchip so a hospital could scan the chip and get the patients medical records faster. Now the implantable microchips are being used in other fields as well.

The Bible talks about a cashless society in the book of Revelation. This verse is from the Old King James version. “And no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or name of the beast, or the number of his name.” Revelation chapter 13 verse 17. Is the implantable microchip the mark of the beast? Even if the chip is not the mark of the beast it is still evil and I don’t want it.

Watch The New World Order Sell The Chip.

Banks charging fees to use the atm to withdrawal cash is another example of forcing the public to go cashless. U.S. Bank charges a fee if you use the atm to withdrawal cash more than a specified number of times a month.

Treasury Plans Social Security Debit Card:

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The U.S. Treasury Department is set to offer a prepaid debit card for Social Security recipients, and has chosen Dallas-based Comerica Bank as the card issuer, The Wall Street Journal reported on Friday.

The report said the card is targeted at Social Security and Supplemental Security Income recipients who don’t have bank accounts, and is also aimed at providing cheaper and more secure payments by shifting away from paper checks.

Comerica Bank is a subsidiary of Comerica Inc.