Skip to content

FDA extends public comment period on genetically engineered foods and animals

May 30, 2017

5/29/2017

Source …..

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has extended its Request for Comment period on genome edited foods and animals. The move aims to continue gaining public input on the draft revised guidance about the agency’s stance on human and animal foods derived from plants that have undergone genome editing. The federal agency has also extended the comment period for the draft guidance regarding the regulation of intentionally-engineered genomic DNA in animals. The FDA’s recent action was in response to requests for additional time to submit comments. The comment periods for the two draft guidance will close on June 19, 2017.

The two draft guidance were originally released in January, which discuss the steps that the federal agency takes to clarify how it regulates specific biotechnology products. The recent announcements were in line with the federal agency’s commitments highlighted in the “National Strategy for Modernizing the Regulatory System for Biotechnology Products” issued in September last year. The document aims to ensure that the FDA is efficiently equipped to evaluate any risks associated with future biotechnology products.

Click here to post a comment.

FDA outlines pros, cons of genome-editing technology

In its blog the FDA Voice, the federal agency outlined that recent scientific innovations have led to the development of more efficient and precise methods in modifying plant, animal, and microorganism genomes to produce ideal traits. According to the FDA, these genome editing technologies were relatively easy to use, and may have extensive applications to a wide range of sectors including the medical, food and environmental industries. The federal agency also noted that genome-editing technologies may have potential use in the introduction, removal, or replacement of one or more specific nucleotides at a specific region in the organism’s genome. According to the agency, a number of research are currently at work to determine how genome-editing technologies can be applied to the following:

  • Treatment of  HIV, cancer, or rare medical conditions
  • Control or modify organisms that carry infectious diseases such as Zika-bearing mosquitoes and lyme disease-causing mice
  • Enhance the health and welfare of animals that produce food
  • Modify specific characteristics of food plants or fungi

However, the federal agency also stressed on the potential risks associated with genome editing technologies. According to the FDA, the risks include the technology’s effects on individual genomes, and its potential impact on the environment and ecosystem.

“Accompanying the enthusiasm about these promising technologies are questions about whether FDA is prepared to ensure the safety of regulated products that use this technology. Providing appropriate and balanced regulatory oversight for applications involving an emerging technology is not a new or unique challenge for FDA, but the potential breadth of applications and the fundamental nature of altering the genome call for the participation of multiple constituencies in considering the most effective regulatory policies to address any potential risks…Genome editing applications are relevant to three main FDA-regulated product classes. The specific regulatory approaches for each of these classes vary, reflecting differences in underlying statutory authorities. FDA is maintaining a product-focused, science-based regulatory policy, in accordance with specific legal standards applicable to each type of product and consistent with overarching U.S. Government policy principles,” the FDA blog read.
In 2015, the FDA has collaborated with a number of other federal agencies —  including the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service — in an initiative meant to ensure public confidence towards the regulatory system that oversees biotechnology products. The collaborative effort also aimed to enhance the said system’s transparency, coordination and efficiency.
Sources include:

Salvadoran Officials Overwhelmed by Returning Deported Gang Members

May 30, 2017

Ryan Saavedra

5/28/2017

Source …..

Officials in El Salvador held emergency meetings after seeing a sharp increase in the number of violent gang members being deported back to the country from the United States under the Trump administration.

Salvadoran authorities have held emergency meetings and proposed new legislation to monitor returning criminals and gang members that are returning to El Salvador after deportation, according to the Washington Post.

The move by Salvadoran officials comes as a direct result of the Trump administration’s crackdown on illegal immigration and efforts to deport more criminal illegal aliens from the U.S.

This year the U.S. has already deported 398 gang members back to El Salvador – compared to only 534 for all of 2016.

It is due to this rapid increase in deportations that Salvadoran officials like Héctor Antonio Rodríguez, the director of the country’s immigration agency, are worried about the impact the returning gang members will have in the country.

“This clearly affects El Salvador. We already have a climate of violence in the country that we are combating,” Rodríguez said. “If gang members return, of course this worries us.”

Many of the returning gang members belong to MS-13, a notoriously violent street gang that has plagued communities throughout the U.S. with horrific acts of violence. Although MS-13 started out in Salvadoran communities in Los Angeles sometime during the 1980’s, lax immigration policies and weak border security helped the gang explode in size as MS-13 originated from illegal immigrants, Breitbart Texas reported.

The recent murders of four teens in New York City have put MS-13 in the national spotlight with Attorney General Jeff Sessions declaring that U.S. authorities are going after the gang.

“The MS-13 motto is kill, rape, and control,” Sessions said. “I have a message to the gangs that are targeting our young people: We are targeting you. We are coming after you.”

Speaking at a rally in April, President Trump highlighted the importance of removing illegal alien MS-13 gang members from the U.S.:

At the heart of my administration’s efforts to restore the rule of law has been a nationwide crackdown on criminal gangs, and that means taking the fight to the sanctuary cities that shield these dangerous criminals from removal. The last very weak administration allowed thousands and thousands of gang members to cross our borders and enter into our communities, where they wreaked havoc on our citizens. The bloodthirsty cartel known as MS-13 has infiltrated our schools, threatening innocent children.

We have seen the horrible assaults and many killings all along Long Island where I grew up. We are seeing the vicious spread of transnational gangs into all 50 states and the human suffering they bring with them. I have been with the parents. It is devastation. A very respected General recently told me that MS-13 are the equivalent in their meanness to Al Qaeda. My administration will not rest until we have dismantled these violent gangs, and we are doing it rapidly, and we are sending them the hell out of our country.

On Wednesday, Breitbart Texas reported that Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), Chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, said recently obtained documents from a whistleblower show that the Obama administration knowingly admitted 16 MS-13 gang members in 2014.

 

California Ready for Single-Payer Insurance … But Who’s Going to Pay for It?

May 29, 2017

Samuel Chi

5/27/2017

Source …..

In California, after the state robs the taxpayers of their last pennies, apparently more money just falls out of the sky.

That must be the conclusion reached by a California state senate committee that passed a $400 billion universal healthcare proposal Thursday with no funding plan. Yes, that’s 400 billion with a B, which is more than twice the annual budget for the entire state.

Sen. Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) introduced SB 562, which calls for a sweeping overhaul of the state’s health insurance market. His committee passed the bill with a 5-2 vote, clearing the way for it to be taken up on the Senate floor next week. But Lara has yet to reveal a plan about how the state would come up with the money to provide health care to California’s nearly 40 million residents, including illegal immigrants.

But in California, who cares about funding mechanisms? There’s still that $68 billion “bullet train” out there going nowhere. The state doubled down on increasing services for illegals after President Donald Trump pledged to tighten the nation’s borders. And just last month, the state legislature decided to levy even more taxes on gasoline purchases, as Californians will be paying $1 in taxes for every gallon of gas.

And Democratic Gov. Jerry “Moonbeam” Brown had the audacity to lecture the taxpayers who complained about the added burden as “freeloaders.”

But this latest single-payer whopper might be a bit too much for even Brown and California’s Democrats, who own a supermajority in both the state senate and assembly, to swallow. Then again, maybe they believe in unicorns.

Lara told the Sacramento Bee that he thinks it’s possible to come up with a sustainable funding mechanism that doesn’t overtax people and guarantees coverage for all. He never mentioned how. Lara said in a statement:

Republicans in Congress voted to strip healthcare from 23 million people without a hearing or a fiscal analysis. We have already held two hearings and had an analysis, and I will be introducing a plan to pay for this program and cover every Californian. With Republicans determined to take away people’s healthcare, we can’t afford to wait.

Part of Lara’s rush is to appease a progressive base that’s never shy about spending other people’s money. RoseAnn DeMoro, executive director of the California Nurses Association, offered a foul-mouthed tirade at a rally for SB562 that ridiculed those who wanted a fiscal analysis as engaging in “chicken-s*** talk.”

Video …..

California’s Republican legislators — what’s left of them — wondered out loud if their Democratic colleagues would eventually come to their senses.

“We’re thinking about it as a concept that we’re going to pass without any detail,” Patricia Bates (R-Laguna Niguel) told the Bee. “I hope at some point rational thinking kicks in and we’re not just driven by this lobbying effort. Good policy doesn’t come out of intimidation.”

Don’t hold your breath.

 

California Farmer Fined $2.8M for Plowing His Own Field

May 29, 2017

Assemblyman Tim Donnelly

5/27/2017

Source …..

The California farmer who became the poster child for EPA reform under President Donald Trump is being fined $2.8 million by state and federal regulators for plowing his own field in Tehama County.

According to a story in the Redding Record Searchlight:

“The case is the first time that we’re aware of that says you need to get a (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers) permit to plow to grow crops,” said Anthony Francois, an attorney for the Pacific Legal Foundation.

“We’re not going to produce much food under those kinds of regulations,” he said.

However, U.S. District Judge Kimberly J. Mueller agreed with the Army Corps in a judgment issued in June 2016. A penalty trial, in which the U.S. Attorney’s Office asks for $2.8 million in civil penalties, is set for August.

It all started in 2012 when a Modesto farmer named John Duarte, owner of Duarte Nursery, bought 450 acres near Red Bluff in Tehama County.

Because the acreage had numerous “swales and wetlands,” Duarte made the decision to hire a consulting firm to map out areas on the property to mark off areas that drained into the nearby Coyote and Oak creeks — which, under an Obama-era regulation, are considered to be “waters of the United States,” (“WOTUS”).

According to the Record report, Francois and court records confirmed that Duarte planned to grow wheat on the 450 acres.

The wheat Duarte planted was never harvested, “because in February 2013 the Army Corps of Engineers and the California Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board issued orders to stop work at the site because Duarte had violated the Clean Water Act by not obtaining a permit to discharge dredged or fill material into seasonal wetlands considered waters of the United States.”

Duarte responded by suing the Army Corps and the state of California. The U.S. Attorney’s office filed a counter-suit.

The government’s case appears to rest entirely on a technicality created under the new rule that grants EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers sweeping powers in what President Trump, at the signing of an executive order directing EPA to begin repealing WOTUS, described as “a massive power grab” granting the federal government control of “nearly every puddle or every ditch on a farmer’s land.”

The Los Angeles Times describes the whole case as a “protracted legal battle ensued over whether 5-inch furrows amounted to enough of an alteration of the land to “pollute” the pools.

“The wetlands in my case amount to very minor depressions — they’re vernal pools — far away and disconnected from any stream or navigable waters,” Duarte told the Times. “Sometimes they’re just dark spots in the grass to the layperson.”

In an ironic twist, the Times noted that “[d]uring the Senate hearing on Pruitt’s nomination, Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst used a photograph of Duarte’s furrows as a backdrop, mocking a federal brief that said ‘the furrow tops now serve as small mountain ranges.’”

Despite Trump’s new policy, federal regulators are still demanding almost $3 million from an American farmer for plowing his own privately acquired farmland — land that he reasonably assumed to be exempt from the regulation now being enforced.

 

Charlie Daniels’ Open Letter to Chuck Schumer: You’ve Opened Pandora’s Box

May 28, 2017

Charlie Daniels

5/24/2017

Source …..

Sen. Schumer, I don’t live in your constituency, but in the larger picture, you live in mine and every other legal, taxpaying American citizen who is affected by the power you hold in your political party, your blind allegiance to it and the obstructionist posture to anything that doesn’t directly benefit it.

There’s something sinister about seeing you bent over the lectern in the Senate Chamber, your countenance resembling what I would imagine Edgar Allen Poe’s would look like reciting one of his macabre tales of doom and gloom, as if there is not one drop of happiness in your life, forecasting a dismal future for America if anything President Trump proposes passes both houses, is signed and becomes law.

I know you’re disappointed. I know you had the balloons ready to fall and the corks halfway out of the champagne bottles on election night. And I know you just can’t face the truth that what happened in the election was exactly the same thing you continue to do: you forgot about the working people; you forgot about the empty factories of the rust belt; you took for granted the high crime, low employment inner cities you’ve made unkept promises to for decades.

Instead of looking inward at the real cause for your party’s loss, you had to find a scapegoat, and if it hadn’t been Russia, it would have been something else.

Sen. Schumer, will you do me and America a favor? Will you lay your hand on a Holy Bible and tell America that you believe in your heart that Donald Trump has actually colluded with Vladimir Putin and the Russian government to the detriment of the United States of America?

You see, sir, everything you’ve come up with so far, and you’ve been at it since well before the election, has been superficial. And I believe that anything your special counsel will come up with will also be superficial, guilt by association, the fires of triviality fanned and proliferated by a tilted, hate-filled media and super partisan politicians.

Sen. Schumer, what goes around truly does come around, and if, or should I say when, this pendulum starts swinging back the other way, do you realize that Mr. Mueller could actually find a lot more dirt on prominent Democrats than they do Trump and his staff?

You have opened Pandora’s Box, sir, and basically thrown away the lid.

Now it’s time to chop the log and let the chips fall where they will.

If President Trump has actually colluded with the Russians or any other foreign government, or sold out my beloved nation in any way, I definitely want to know about it, and if he has, he should be impeached and thrown out of office in disgrace. But right now, you’re a hell of a long way from proving even one iota of your accusations.

Now let’s turn this coin over.

Did or did not Hillary Clinton sign off on allowing a Russian agency to purchase a company holding up to 20 percent of America’s uranium production capacity?

Who leaked the classified information that started this ball rolling? For the investigation to be valid, that has to come out.

Did Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton’s State department, through incompetence, indifference or both, allow four American citizens to die in Benghazi?

Be careful how you answer this one because the jury and some explosive evidence are still out there, and it all could well be brought to light in a few months.

Did or did not Hillary Clinton, by using an unsecured server and allowing Huma Abedin to email copies to her husband, Anthony Weiner, expose classified documents?

Was there collusion between the Obama administration and the IRS to disallow tax free status to conservative organizations?

If not, why did Lois Lerner plead the Fifth Amendment and retire with full benefits?

You see, sir, Pandora is neither a Democrat nor a Republican, and what is revealed in the coming months could well be a two-edged sword.

Be careful what you wish for.

What do you think?

Pray for our troops, our police and the peace of Jerusalem.

God Bless America

Charlie Daniels

Left’s biggest lies exposed on major TV show

May 28, 2017

Paul Bremmer

5/27/2017

Source …..

The legal principle of “separation of church and state” is enshrined in the Constitution, right? After all, Americans hear it all the time from their politicians and judges and mainstream journalists. Authorities and “experts” would never tell such a huge lie, would they? Wouldn’t they be afraid of being found out?

But as psychologists have observed over the decades, repeat a lie often enough, no matter how blatantly false it is, and many people come to believe it.

“Separation of church and state,” in fact, is never mentioned in the Constitution or Bill of Rights, yet the left in politics, academia, law and the media have drilled it into Americans’ consciousness as though it were true.

That’s just one of many key insights from the popular book “The Marketing of Evil” that best-selling author and WND Managing Editor David Kupelian discussed recently on an internationally broadcast Christian TV show.

People of good conscience should never assume any lie is too big for others to tell, said Kupelian. “We project outward; we assume that because we would never do such a crazy thing, others would never do it because they’d be afraid of getting caught.” Kupelian made a marathon two-hour appearance on the SonLife Broadcasting Network show “Frances & Friends.” “Big mistake to think that others would not do something that your conscience would prevent you from doing.”

Kupelian acknowledged that most Christians, including those watching “Frances & Friends,” usually stick to little white lies, if they lie at all. This is because guilt and the fear of getting caught prevent most from telling bigger lies. It was Adolf Hitler himself who articulated the concept and hidden power of the “Big Lie” in his autobiography “Mein Kampf,” although he deviously claimed it was a propaganda technique used by the Jews, not a description of his own modus operandi.

“[Hitler] was deranged and crazy and all the rest, but he was brilliant and he understood the dark side of human nature and he spells it out in there,” Kupelian said. “He basically says the bigger the lie, the more people believe it.”

Exposing, explaining and illuminating lies and deception are themes that permeate Kupelian’s three popular books, the most recent being “The Snapping of the American Mind.” In his first book, “The Marketing of Evil,” he describes, as the subtitle says, “How Radicals, Elitists and Pseudo-Experts Sell Us Corruption Disguised as Freedom.”

When Kupelian talks about “the left,” he’s not talking about loyal Americans who are traditional “bleeding-heart liberals” or John F. Kennedy-era Democrats.

“When we say the left, the hard left, we’re talking about a part of society that is actually – I’m just going to spit it out here – in rebellion against reality, in rebellion against Christianity, against the Ten Commandments,” he declared. “This is a group that’s basically at war with core American, what we call Judeo-Christian, values – basically biblical values, the values that America was based on. And so when you do that, when you don’t have truth on your side, what do you have? All you have is marketing, emotion, lies.”

The marketing of evil, explains Kupelian, is very simply the art of making something bad appear good, and something good appear bad. Transgenderism, for example, is classified as a disorder by the World Health Organization, and 41 percent of transgender people attempt suicide at some point. Yet today transgendered individuals are widely portrayed as totally normal people whose true gender simply does not match the reproductive organs with which they were born. Even former Vice President Joe Biden once declared transgender discrimination to be the “civil rights issue of our time.”

Yet those who disagree with the left’s inversion of morality and common sense are labeled haters and bigots. Kupelian knows it’s an effective tactic.

“Nobody wants to be demonized and called any of these names – a bigot, a hater,” Kupelian said. “They make up words: ‘homophobe,’ ‘Islamophobe,’ ‘you’re transphobic.’ These aren’t even words! But they make up these new words to intimidate people into shutting up, because nobody wants to be hated. Nobody wants to think of themselves as a racist, which, nowadays, being a racist is almost worse than being called a murderer.”

One label that is arguably worse than “racist” or “murderer” is “Nazi,” and Kupelian noted leftists have frequently thrown around that label to describe Trump and his supporters. In fact, Kupelian wrote a column last October in which he exposed five Washington Post writers who had compared Trump to Hitler. This sort of rhetoric is grossly irresponsible, he says.

“I’m in the news business,” Kupelian said to the panel of interviewers on “Frances & Friends.” “When somebody kills three, four, five people, it’s a big news story. Hitler killed 11 million, including the 6 million Jews, in World War II. He’s probably the worst guy in history, just about, and to compare Donald Trump, who never killed anybody, to Adolf Hitler is kind of overkill, but we have to understand what the effect of that is. If Donald Trump is Hitler, then all the crazy talk we hear – ‘he needs to be impeached,’ all the rest of this stuff – not only is that understandable, but it’s very dangerous because you’re setting people up to commit violence.”

If Trump really were Hitler, Kupelian reasoned, all the horrible things the left wants to do to him would be justified. After all, those who tried to fight back against Hitler are celebrated today.

“This is serious stuff when you compare anybody to Adolf Hitler,” he warned. “So we’ve gone way beyond irresponsible.”

One of the things the left seems to resent most about Trump is his lack of reverence for diversity and a multicultural America. But Kupelian said the left’s “multicultural” obsession is at the center of another one of its big lies.

“It is not really about celebrating other cultures,” he insisted, regarding what he calls “Multicultural Madness” in “The Marketing of Evil.”  “What it’s really about, my friend, is denigrating Christianity, faith in Christ, the Judeo-Christian tradition and values of our country. That’s really what it’s about.”Kupelian pointed out there are plenty of left-wing Christians who believe the U.S. should fling open its doors to foreigners from terrorist hotbeds to prove America is not a racist country. But that is extremely unwise and dangerous, he insists.

“You’re bringing people in from a culture that, as a rule, do not assimilate,” he warned. “They don’t tend to assimilate, they don’t tend to love the Constitution. They are loyal to a different religion, a different way of life, and it’s just foolishness to bring as many people as humanly possible from a culture that will never assimilate.”

Kupelian said of the people pushing multiculturalism: “They have an antipathy, an anger. They are at war with what they see as white, racist, Christian male patriarchy. You see it all the time in the news. It is a form of craziness.”

Donnie Swaggart, the co-host of “Frances & Friends,” opened up the program with effusive praise for his guest, calling Kupelian’s “The Marketing of Evil” “one of the greatest books that I’ve ever read.”

He added, “It’s a book that every believer should read.”

Obama intel agency secretly conducted illegal searches on Americans for years

May 28, 2017

John Solomon and Sara Carter

5/24/2017

Source …..

The National Security Agency under former President Barack Obama routinely violated American privacy protections while scouring through overseas intercepts and failed to disclose the extent of the problems until the final days before Donald Trump was elected president last fall, according to once top-secret documents that chronicle some of the most serious constitutional abuses to date by the U.S. intelligence community.

More than 5 percent, or one out of every 20 searches seeking upstream Internet data on Americans inside the NSA’s so-called Section 702 database violated the safeguards Obama and his intelligence chiefs vowed to follow in 2011, according to one classified internal report reviewed by Circa.

The Obama administration self-disclosed the problems at a closed-door hearing Oct. 26 before the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that set off alarm. Trump was elected less than two weeks later.

The normally supportive court censured administration officials, saying the failure to disclose the extent of the violations earlier amounted to an “institutional lack of candor” and that the improper searches constituted a “very serious Fourth Amendment issue,” according to a recently unsealed court document dated April 26, 2017.

The admitted violations undercut one of the primary defenses that the intelligence community and Obama officials have used in recent weeks to justify their snooping into incidental NSA intercepts about Americans.

The FISA court opinion

https://www.scribd.com/book/349261099/2016-Cert-FISC-Memo-Opin-Order-Apr-2017-4

Circa has reported that there was a three-fold increase in NSA data searches about Americans and a rise in the unmasking of U.S. person’s identities in intelligence reports after Obama loosened the privacy rules in 2011.

Officials like former National Security Adviser Susan Rice have argued their activities were legal under the so-called minimization rule changes Obama made, and that the intelligence agencies were strictly monitored to avoid abuses.

The intelligence court and the NSA’s own internal watchdog found that not to be true.

“Since 2011, NSA’s minimization procedures have prohibited use of U.S.-person identifiers to query the results of upstream Internet collections under Section 702,” the unsealed court ruling declared. “The Oct. 26, 2016 notice informed the court that NSA analysts had been conducting such queries inviolation of that prohibition, with much greater frequency than had been previously disclosed to the Court.”

Speaking Wednesday on Fox News, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) said there was an apparent effort under the Obama Administration to increase the number of unmaskings of Americans.

“If we determine this to be true, this is an enormous abuse of power,” Paul said. “This will dwarf all other stories.”

“There are hundreds and hundreds of people,” Paul added.

The American Civil Liberties Union said the newly disclosed violations are some of the most serious to ever be documented and strongly call into question the U.S. intelligence community’s ability to police itself and safeguard American’s privacy as guaranteed by the Constitution’s Fourth Amendment protections against unlawful search and seizure.

“I think what this emphasizes is the shocking lack of oversight of these programs,” said Neema Singh Guliani, the ACLU’s legislative counsel in Washington.

“You have these problems going on for years that only come to the attention of the court late in the game and then it takes additional years to change its practices.

“I think it does call into question all those defenses that we kept hearing, that we always have a robust oversight structure and we have culture of adherence to privacy standards,” she added. “And the headline now is they actually haven’t been in compliacne for years and the FISA court itself says in its opinion is that the NSA suffers from a culture of a lack of candor.”

The NSA acknowledged it self-disclosed the mass violations to the court last fall and that in April it took the extraordinary step of suspending the type of searches that were violating the rules, even deleting prior collected data on Americans to avoid any further violations.

“NSA will no longer collect certain internet communications that merely mention a foreign intelligence target,” the agency said in the statement that was dated April 28 and placed on its Web site without capturing much media or congressional attention.

In question is the collection of what is known as upstream “about data”about an American that is collected even though they were not directly in contact with a foreigner that the NSA was legally allowed to intercept.

The NSA said it doesn’t have the ability to stop collecting ‘about’ information on Americans, “without losing some other important data. ” It, however, said it would stop the practice to “reduce the chance that it would acquire communication of U.S. persons or others who are not in direct contact with a foreign intelligence target.”

The NSA said it also plans to “delete the vast majority of its upstream internet data to further protect the privacy of U.S. person communications.”

Agency officials called the violations “inadvertent compliance lapses.” But the court and IG documents suggest the NSA had not developed a technological way to comply with the rules they had submitted to the court in 2011.

Officials “explained that NSA query compliance is largely maintained through a series of manual checks” and had not “included the proper limiters” to prevent unlawful searches, the NSA internal watchdog reported in a top secret report in January that was just declassified. A new system is being developed now, officials said.

The NSA conducts thousand of searches a year on data involving Americans and the actual numbers of violations were redacted from the documents Circa reviewed.

But a chart in the report showed there three types of violations, the most frequent being 5.2 percent of the time when NSA Section 702 upstream data on U.S. persons was searched.

The inspector general also found  noncompliance between 0.7 percent and 1.4 percent of the time involving NSA activities in which there was a court order to target an American for spying  but the rules were still not followed. Those activities are known as Section 704 and Section 705 spying.

The NSA inspector general’s highly redacted chart showing privacy violations.

The IG report spared few words for the NSA’s efforts before the disclosure to ensure it was complying with practices, some that date to rules issued in 2008 in the final days of the Bush administration and others that Obama put into effect in 2011.

“We found that the Agency controls for monitoring query compliance have not been completely developed,” the inspector general reported, citing problems ranging from missing requirements for documentation to the failure to complete controls that would ensure “query compliance.”

The NSA’s Signal Intelligence Directorate, the nation’s main foreign surveillance arm, wrote a letter back to the IG saying it agreed with the findings and that “corrective action plans” are in the works.

 

Secret court rebukes NSA for 5-year illegal surveillance of U.S. citizens

May 28, 2017

5/26/2017

Source …..

U.S. intelligence agencies conducted illegal surveillance on American citizens over a five-year period, a practice that earned them a sharp rebuke from a secret court that called the matter a “very serious” constitutional issue.

The criticism is in a lengthy secret ruling that lays bare some of the frictions between the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court and U.S. intelligence agencies obligated to obtain the court’s approval for surveillance activities.

The ruling, dated April 26 and bearing the label “top secret,” was obtained and published Thursday by the news site Circa.

It is rare that such rulings see the light of day, and the lengthy unraveling of issues in the 99-page document opens a window on how the secret federal court oversees surveillance activities and seeks to curtail those that it deems overstep legal authority.

The document, signed by Judge Rosemary M. Collyer, said the court had learned in a notice filed Oct. 26, 2016, that National Security Agency analysts had been conducting prohibited queries of databases “with much greater frequency than had previously been disclosed to the court.”

It said a judge chastised the NSA’s inspector general and Office of Compliance for Operations for an “institutional ‘lack of candor’ ” for failing to inform the court. It described the matter as “a very serious Fourth Amendment issue.”

The Fourth Amendment protects people from unreasonable searches and seizures by the government, and is a constitutional bedrock protection against intrusion.

Parts of the ruling were redacted, including sections that give an indication of the extent of the illegal surveillance, which the NSA told the court in a Jan. 3 notice was partly the fault of “human error” and “system design issues” rather than intentional illegal searches.

The NSA inspector general’s office tallied up the number of prohibited searches conducted in a three-month period in 2015, but the number of analysts who made the searches and the number of queries were blacked out in the ruling.

The NSA gathers communications in ways known as “upstream” and “downstream” collection. Upstream collection occurs when data are captured as they move through massive data highways – the internet backbone – within the United States. Downstream collection occurs as data move outside the country along fiber optic cables and satellite links.

Data captured from both upstream and downstream sources are stored in massive databases, available to be searched when analysts need to, often months or as much as two years after the captures took place.

The prohibited searches the court mentioned involved NSA queries into the upstream databanks, which constitute a fraction of all the data NSA captures around the globe but are more likely to contain the emails and phone calls of people in the United States.

Federal law empowers the NSA and CIA to battle foreign terrorist actions against the United States by collecting the electronic communications of targets believed to be outside the country. While communications of U.S. citizens or residents may get hoovered up in such sweeps, they are considered “incidental” and must be “minimized” – removing the identities of Americans – before broader distribution.

The court filing noted an NSA decision March 30 to narrow collection of “upstream” data within the United States. Under that decision, the NSA acknowledged that it had erred in sweeping up the communications of U.S. citizens or residents but said those errors “were not willful.” Even so, the NSA said it would no longer collect certain kinds of data known as “about” communications, in which a U.S. citizen was merely mentioned.

The NSA announced that change publicly on April 28, two days after the court ruling, saying the agency would limit its sweeps to communications either directly to or from a foreign intelligence target. That change would reduce “the likelihood that NSA will acquire communications of U.S. persons or others who are not in direct contact with one of the agency’s foreign intelligence targets.”

The court document also criticized the FBI’s distribution of intelligence data, saying it had disclosed raw surveillance data to sectors of its bureaucracy “largely staffed by private contractors.”

The “contractors had access to raw FISA information that went well beyond what was necessary to respond to the FBI’s requests,” it said, adding that the bureau discontinued the practice on April 18, 2016.

Insane Fourth Circuit: Muslims’ feelings trump national security

May 27, 2017

Daniel Horowitz

5/26/2017

Source …..

Actual rights — such as life, liberty, property, and conscience — are denied by the courts. American Christians cannot run their own property in accordance with their conscience — the most sacred of all property rights. “Bake the damn cake,” they say!

Yet, these same courts have created an affirmative right to immigrate based on religious liberty for Muslims living in a shack on some Somali hilltop.

Now, the Fourth Circuit has taken this debauchery a step further and has created a right to not feel perceived stigma – to the point that such a grievance can overturn national security and, presumably, diplomatic and military policies. The sky is the limit, if we are to hold the Fourth Circuit to a consistent reading of its own ruling.

As I noted in my first piece analyzing the Fourth Circuit’s immigration ruling on Thursday, this case was not about letting a foreign national into the country. Indeed, none of the relatives of the plaintiffs were even denied entry. What the court did was nullify the intangible executive policy, rhetoric, and directive in general about fighting Islamic terror because the plaintiffs felt stigmatized.

This is the only way they were able to obtain standing and assert an injury-in-fact to satisfy an Establishment Clause violation. Thus, the court has now opened the door for any Muslim American or even Muslim LPR (legal permanent resident) to shoot directly at a national security policy in court — even beyond immigration — assert the injury of feeling a negative stereotype and a stigma, and have the court “overturn” that policy.

Take a look at this footnote from Page 60 of the opinion, whereby the courts essentially say the Justice Department can’t collect data on honor killings because it stigmatizes Muslims:

Plaintiffs suggest that EO-2 is not facially neutral, because by directing the Secretary of Homeland Security to collect data on “honor killings” committed in the United States by foreign nationals, EO-2 incorporates “a stereotype about Muslims that the President had invoked in the months preceding the Order.” Appellees’ Br. 5, 7; see J.A. 598 (reproducing Trump’s remarks in a September 2016 speech in Arizona in which he stated that applicants from countries like Iraq and Afghanistan would be “asked their views about honor killings,” because “a majority of residents [in those countries] say that the barbaric practice of honor killings against women are often or sometimes justified”). Numerous amici explain that invoking the specter of “honor killings” is a well-worn tactic for stigmatizing and demeaning Islam and painting the religion, and its men, as violent and barbaric.

Judge Thacker, in his concurrence, also cited the “stereotype” of honor killings as reason to make the president’s policy rise to the level of an Establishment Clause violation.

There are no words to describe the infinite and insane consequences that flow from this decision. By definition, almost all of our key diplomatic, military, homeland security, and national security policies are focused on the threat of Islamic terrorism. The consummate threat of our time will always involve, in some form, the recognition of a threat within the religion of Islam.

Any smart lawyer could now use the language of this ruling to strike down almost any foreign policy or homeland security policy on behalf of a Muslim by contending that such a policy violates the Establishment Clause because it stigmatizes Muslims.

What is to stop a Muslim LPR from suing our government for engaging in war almost exclusively in “Muslim” countries? Every major military engagement is against a Muslim-majority country or Muslim entity.

Plaintiffs could cite the same “data” and anecdotes suggesting that these policies cultivate an anti-Islam bias in this country and make them feel “anxious,” “stigmatized,” “stereotyped,” and “like an outsider.” This is the new threshold for determining whether a policy violates the Establishment Clause. And it could now apply to foreign policy and national security.

Most certainly, they could lodge lawsuits against any FBI policy of data collection and basic law enforcement actions because they are primarily focused on one religion as it relates to terrorism. Also, it’s quite clear from this decision that the DHS couldn’t ask basic questions to determine whether a visa applicant is a Sharia supremacist, practices honor killings, or believes in performing female genital mutilation. That is a prima facie violation of the Establishment Clause, according to these judges.

That means that the courts have now codified the Obama-era policies of willful blindness into law. And not only into law, but into the Constitution, thereby preventing even Congress from implementing basic protections.

Entry of aliens is just as much a part of foreign affairs as military and diplomacy

Lest you think my hypothetical case of a Muslim suing against military or diplomatic policy is an exaggeration or even an extrapolation of this case, think again. The decisions governing aliens entering this country are not only controlled by the delegated authority Congress has given over through statute to the president; it is also inherent in the president’s own Article II powers to conduct foreign affairs.

Here are a few quotes from past court decisions demonstrating this point:

The exclusion of aliens is a fundamental act of sovereignty. The right to do so stems not alone from legislative power but is inherent in the executive power to control the foreign affairs of the nation. * * * When Congress prescribes a procedure concerning the admissibility of aliens, it is not dealing alone with a legislative power. It is implementing an inherent executive power.” [930 F. Supp. 1360, 1365 (N.D. Cal. 1996)]

“It is pertinent to observe that any policy toward aliens is vitally and intricately interwoven with contemporaneous policies in regard to the conduct of foreign relations, the war power, and the maintenance of a republican form of government. Such matters are so exclusively entrusted to the political branches of government as to be largely immune from judicial inquiry or interference.” (Harisiades v. Shaughnessy, (1952).

“When Congress prescribes a procedure concerning the admissibility of aliens, it is not dealing alone with a legislative power. It is implementing an inherent executive power.

“Thus, the decision to admit or to exclude an alien may be lawfully placed with the President, who may, in turn, delegate the carrying out of this function to a responsible executive officer of the sovereign, such as the Attorney General. The action of the executive officer under such authority is final and conclusive. Whatever the rule may be concerning deportation of persons who have gained entry into the United States, it is not within the province of any court, unless expressly authorized by law, to review the determination of the political branch of the Government to exclude a given alien.” (Knauff v. Shaughnessy, 1950)

Thus, to grant standing to a Muslim to shoot down an immigration policy under the pretense of an Establishment Clause violation is tantamount to granting standing to sue against any foreign policy. This would mean that an American Jew should be able to sue the State Department for promoting a Palestinian state — a policy that would uproot Jews from Judea and Samaria.

No other diplomatic policy directly targets a religion to the point that the outcome and purpose of such a policy is to make a land — the Jewish homeland of all places — Jew-free. The stigma of Israel as an occupier is directly responsible for the violence and persecution of Jews on college campuses. There is a much stronger case to be made for suing on these grounds, along with FBI hate-crime data on attacks against Jews, than the claim before the Fourth Circuit … once we accept their maniacal premise.

The precedent this decision sets on vetting immigrants is also breathtaking. What flows seamlessly from this opinion is that any American immigrant relative of someone who was denied a visa could sue and assert a religious liberty right.

Whereas for the first 200 years of our history we only admitted people who shared our values, now the courts are saying you can only deny entry to someone with absolute, unqualified known ties to terror. His values system is out of bounds. Support for honor killings or FGM, notwithstanding. As I note in Chapter 6 of “Stolen Sovereignty,” this not only violates the legalities of sovereignty, it violates the philosophy behind our immigration system since our founding of only bringing in “meritorious.”

In Federalist No. 69, when contrasting the role of a president from that of a king, Alexander Hamilton observed that “[T]he one [a president] can confer no privileges whatever; the other [a king] can make denizens of aliens.”

Now, unelected lower-court judges have more power than a king.

 

Judge protecting sanctuary cities using same trick to stop travel ban

May 27, 2017

Garth Kant

5/26/2017

Source …..

Federal judges are using the same strategy to skirt the law in order to protect sanctuary cites as they used to stop the president’s travel ban, according to an administration source familiar with the case.

The administration source told WND on Friday that, in both instances, the rulings were clear examples of judges making erroneous legal decisions by placing more importance on public comments than the text of the law in determining the constitutionality of President Trump’s executive orders.

Federal Judge William Orrick cited public comments when he temporarily blocked an executive order to withhold some funds for cities that do not cooperate with federal immigration law enforcement.

“If there was doubt about the scope of the order, the president and attorney general have erased it with their public comments,” the San Francisco-based judge wrote in his April 25 ruling.

Appointed to the Northern District of California court in 2013 by former President Obama, Orrick is the same federal judge who, on Friday, ordered YouTube to remove a video showing Planned Parenthood officials making gruesome comments about abortions, including dismemberment and beheadings of fetuses.

Federal judges have also used Trump’s public campaign comments as a candidate rather than relying strictly on the law to stop the president’s executive order instituting a temporary travel ban from six countries rife with terrorism.

In their unanimous Feb. 9 ruling, three federal judges on a panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals noted the states of Washington and Minnesota had “offered evidence of numerous statements by the president about his intent to implement a ‘Muslim ban’ as well as evidence they claim suggests that the Executive Order was intended to be that ban.” The statements cited by the courts were made by Trump as a candidate, not as president.

And on Thursday, federal judges on the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia, upheld the freeze on the travel ban, citing “among other things, then-candidate Trump’s numerous campaign statements expressing animus towards the Islamic faith.

However, as even the Washington Post noted, “The travel order itself makes no mention of religion or Muslims.”

Attorney General Jeff Sessions vowed to appeal to the Supreme Court, where the administration trusts the justices will rule based on the law rather than on sound bites from the news.

This issue of judges putting news reports above the letter of the law arose because WND contacted the Justice Department after dismayed readers expressed concern over a New York Times article on Monday titled “Sessions Narrows Trump’s Order Against Sanctuary Cities.”

A DOJ spokesman contacted Friday assured WND that the Times had misinterpreted the administration’s intentions and the DOJ was in no way lessening its crackdown on sanctuary cities

The Times reported a two-page clarification memo from Attorney General Jeff Sessions “appeared to fall far short of Mr. Trump’s previous threats to starve all federal funding from localities that limit their cooperation with federal immigration enforcement.”

That’s because “only federal grants from the Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security would be affected,” and that “Trump’s executive order on immigration, signed on Jan. 25, appeared to take a much harder line with sanctuary cities.”

The paper also reported that “since that initial threat, the administration has not moved to withhold any federal aid from sanctuary cities.”

However, based on information provided by the DOJ, the Times appeared to be misreading the situation by either not seeing, or not reporting, the bigger picture.

The DOJ spokesman said the executive order’s leverage is currently limited to withholding DOJ and DHS funds and grants to jurisdictions that don’t comply with federal law 8 U.S. Code 1373.

That law only makes it illegal for local, state or federal government officials not to communicate a person’s citizenship and/or immigration status with the Immigration and Naturalization Service.

What the Justice Department hopes to see is Congress amend 8 U.S. Code 1373 to make it illegal for government officials to refuse to cooperate with federal officials seeking to deport persons in local custody who are in the country illegally.

Even though it is currently illegal for local officials to refuse to communicate with federal officials seeking to deport illegal aliens, it is not illegal for local officials to refuse to cooperate with federal officials.

That is why, the DOJ source explained , in its budget plan announced this week, the administration has requested Congress amend the law to require local jurisdictions to honor detainer requests from federal authorities.

As for the Times contention that “the administration has not moved to withhold any federal aid from sanctuary cities,” the spokesman explained the plan to implement the executive order is ongoing and will apply both retrospectively and prospectively to jurisdictions that have or seek DOJ grants.

As the Times noted, “the Justice Department sent letters to officials in New York City, Philadelphia, New Orleans and a handful of other localities, warning them that they stood to lose some minor grants unless they could certify that they were in compliance” with the statute.

But, as the Times also reported, officials in those cities still have until June 30 to respond.

 

%d bloggers like this: