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NDAA Conference Committee Strips Right to Jury Trial

“The very weak protections for Americans that were added to the National Defense Authorization Act for 2013 via an amendment that was introduced by Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Mike Lee, and supported by Sen Rand Paul, has been stripped by the NDAA conference committee. Even those weak protections are now gone. Welcome to the United Soviet States of America.

Today, Rand Paul issued the following statement regarding the newly released NDAA conference report.

“The amendment, introduced by Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) and which passed with a 67-29 vote on Nov. 29, was designed to guarantee Americans the right to due process and a jury trial. These are basic and core American legal privileges prescribed in our Bill of Rights, which have been observed since our nation’s founding. Removing these indefinite detention protections now means that the NDAA is in violation of the Fourth and Fifth Amendments of the Constitution.

“The decision by the NDAA conference committee, led by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) to strip the National Defense Authorization Act of the amendment that protects American citizens against indefinite detention now renders the entire NDAA unconstitutional,” Sen. Paul said. “

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Greek Tragedy Unfolds in Many Layers

“In the Greek mountain town of Kastoria, less than an hour from the Albanian border, Kostas Tsitskos, 88, can’t afford fuel to heat his home against the winter’s cold. So he and his son live in a single bedroom, warmed by a small electric heater.

“One room is enough,” said Tsitskos, who lives on a 734 euro-a-month ($971) pension and doesn’t have the 1,000 euros a month he needs to buy heating oil.

Greece is facing a heating-oil crisis. With an economy that has contracted for five years and an unemployment rate at a record 25 percent, residents in northern Greece can’t heat their homes. Kastoria hasn’t received funds from the central government to warm schools and the mayor said he will close all 53 of them rather than let children freeze, a step already taken in a nearby town. Truckloads of wood are arriving from Bulgaria as families search for alternative fuels.

“This is the coldest place in Greece,” said Emmanouil Hatzisimeonidis, Kastoria’s mayor, in an interview in his office. “It’s winter from October to April. This year we are very lucky. Last year, it was snowing for four months.”

When temperatures fall below freezing, Tsitskos spends most of his time in his bedroom and rarely leaves the house, he said. For meals, he and his son move the electrical heater to the kitchen. Other older residents in the town spend their days at a senior center and cafes to save on heating costs, returning home only to sleep, he said….”

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Banks to Be Shielded from Home Owner Lawsuits


“As regulators complete new mortgage rules, banks are about to get a significant advantage: protection against homeowner lawsuits.

The rules are meant to help bolster the housing market. By shielding banks from potential litigation, policy makers contend that the industry will have a powerful incentive to make higher quality home loans.

But some banking and housing specialists worry that borrowers are losing a critical safeguard. Industries rarely get broad protection from consumer lawsuits, and banks would seem unlikely candidates given the range of abuses revealed during the housing bust….”

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Human Rights Court Concludes that CIA Tortured and Sodomized an Innocent German

“Denied justice in the United States, a German citizen has been vindicated by theEuropean Court of Human Rights, which concluded that American intelligence officials wrongly imprisoned and tortured him.


Car salesman Khaled el-Masri, 49, was abducted on December 31, 2003, by Macedonian authorities after a Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) analyst confused him with an al-Qaeda operative possessing a similar name. After 23 days, he was turned over to the CIA and “severely beaten, sodomized, shackled and hooded,” according to the court’s ruling. The analyst was never punished and was even promoted to head the CIA’s Global Jihad unit.


Masri was transferred to Afghanistan, where he spent more than four months in prison before the CIA agents realized their mistake. On May 28, 2009, he was flown to Albania and left by the side of a road.”

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Dozens Killed in Connecticut School Shooting, Live Coverage

“NEWTOWN, Conn.—A shooting at a Connecticut elementary school Friday left 27 people dead, including 18 children, an official with knowledge of the situation said.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation was still under way. Another official said the gunman was among the dead. It wasn’t clear how many people were injured. The killings happened at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, about 60 miles northeast of New York City.

State police said Newtown police called them around 9:40 a.m. A SWAT team was among the throngs of police to respond.”

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Live coverage

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State of the Union: Middle-Class Meltdown and the Minimum Wage

“Many American who lost middle-class jobs during the recession have been forced into low-paying positions, leading to a clamor for hikes in the minimum wage and more worker activism, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The National Employment Project calculated that of the 1.9 million jobs created during the recovery, 43 percent are in the low-wage industries of retail, food and employment services.

And according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, about one-third of the 3 million Americans who lost their jobs from 2009 to 2011 saw their earnings drop by 20 percent or more upon finding new work. “

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US Sends Troops And Missiles To Turkey, Claims of Chemical Weapons Now Locked and Loaded

“Western officials” are now reporting that Syrian soldiers have loaded a truck with chemical weapons for possible use, according to the Washington Post.

This comes with other reports that beleaguered Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad has prepped his Army for a fight, and that the U.S. has deployed at least 400 troops and batteries of Patriot missiles to the Turkish border.

Joby Warrick of the Post writes:

Surveillance photos confirmed that at least one army unit began loading special military vehicles that transport bombs and artillery shells carrying chemical warheads, according to the officials. The moves followed specific orders to elite troops to begin preparations for the use of the weapons against advancing rebel fighters, the officials said.

The intelligence estimate, coming late Thursday, counters another recent report, issued by Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta just days ago, that the threat of chemical weapons use by Syrian forces had “leveled off,” according to CBS.

From the CBS report:

“We haven’t seen anything new indicating any aggressive steps to move forward in that way,”

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ProPublica: EPA Allows Waivers for Mining Companies to Pollute Aquifers

“Energy and mining companies have received government approval to pollute freshwater aquifers that supply more than half of the nation’s drinking water, according to a report by ProPublica, the investigative journalism project.

The so-called “aquifer exemptions” by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) allow toxic material to enter underground reservoirs, some of them in drought-stricken areas, the organization said. At least 100 drinking water aquifers have been written off because they were reportedly used as dumping ground.

“You are sacrificing these aquifers,” said Mark Williams, a University of Colorado hydrologist and National Science Foundation researcher. “By definition, you are putting pollution into them… If you are looking 50 to 100 years down the road, this is not a good way to go.”

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U.S. Adopts Hamas Tactic Called the Double Tap

“NYU student Josh Begley is tweeting every reported U.S. drone strike since 2002, and the feed highlights a disturbing tactic employed by the U.S. that is widely considered a war crime.

Known as the “double tap,” the tactic involves bombing a target multiple times in relatively quick succession, meaning that the second strike often hits first responders.

2007 report by the Homeland Security Institute called double taps a “favorite tactic of Hamas” and the FBI considers it a tactic employed by terrorists.

UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings Christof Heyns said that if there are “secondary drone strikes on rescuers who are helping (the injured) after an initial drone attack, those further attacks are a war crime.”

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Syrian Rebels Pledge Allegiance to Al-Qaeda Group That Killed U.S. Troops

“A new petition posted on the ‘We The People’ section of the WhiteHouse.gov website demands that the Obama administration cease all funding and support for terrorists and extremist rebels in Syria, as news emerges of 29 different Syrian rebel groups pledging allegiance to the Al-Qaeda affiliated Nusra Front, a group responsible for killing U.S. troops in Iraq and one that is currently the primary fighting force in the NATO-backed bid to topple President Bashar Al-Assad.”

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North Korea Launches Rocket in Defiance of Critics

“Isolated and impoverished North Korea launched its second long- range rocket of 2012 on Wednesday and may have finally succeeded in putting a satellite into space, the stated aim of what critics say is a disguised ballistic missile test.

The rocket was launched just before 10 a.m. Korean time (0100 GMT) and overflew the Japanese island of Okinawa. Its April rocket launch was aborted after less than two minutes flight.

Both South Korea and Japan called meetings of their top security councils after the launch. Japanese television station NHK said the second stage of the rocket had crashed into seas off the Philippines as planned.

It was not immediately clear if the third stage carrying the satellite had made it into space.

There was no immediate annoucement from North Korea on the launch. It made a formal announcement when the April launch had failed, but has previously claimed that it put a satellite into space in 2009, something no one has been able to verify.”

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11 Secret Documents Americans Deserve to See

“Many documents produced by the U.S. government are confidential and not released to the public for legitimate reasons of national security.  Others, however, are kept secret for more questionable reasons.  The fact that presidents and other government officials have the power to deem materials classified provides them with an opportunity to use national security as an excuse to suppress documents and reports that would reveal embarrassing or illegal activities.

I’ve been collecting the stories of unreleased documents for several years. Now I have chosen 11 examples that were created—and buried—by both Democratic and Republican administrations and which cover assassinations, spying, torture, 50-year-old historical events, presidential directives with classified titles and…trade negotiations…”

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Of Course Washington Will Steal Your Retirement Benefits

“Today the twin fake memes of a “Fiscal Cliff” and “Austerity” are combining to create a contrived excuse to tax and steal far more of your wealth and income, including your retirement benefits. The press is filled with articles and editorials like one recently atCNBC entitled “Amid Tax Talks, a cry of ‘Save My 401(k)’.”

Many retirement, offshore and political experts including Jeff Berwick, Larry Grossman and others are now warning how government revenue needs and austerity measures by the Obama Administration today threaten the private retirement system and benefits of millions of successful Americans. Back on January 28, 2010 I wrote a report entitled “The Coming Obama Retirement Trap Has Started,” published at LewRockwell.com, republished in its entirety below, for your review.

Over the last few weeks I’ve been inundated with emails similar to this one:


In early 2010 you wrote an article called “Are you ready for the coming Obama retirement trap?”

Now, I find an article from National Seniors Council that there was a recent hearing sponsored by the Treasury and the Labor Department that marked the beginning of the Obama Administration’s effort to nationalize the nation’s pension system and to eliminate private retirement accounts including IRA’s and 401k plans.

What is your thinking on this? Should one, even with a large IRA, consider cashing it in or doing something to keep it out of harm’s way? Your response is appreciated.

In the 8,000-word report, I basically explored what Washington and the Obama Administration (note Romney would have followed the same actions) had in store for retirement plans and your benefits at the time of some real or fabricated crisis in the future. I wrote about how it would likely happen and what you could do to defend your pension, IRA or other retirement vehicle.

The final section of that report began, “Delay Could Be Fatal… The bottom line on all the strategies I’ve discussed above is they must be started and in place before the next major economic crisis and threat to your retirement assets occurs.”

Now three years later in email after email readers want to know my opinion and advice on the news of the coming pension grab. They ask, “What will the government do?” Many are desperate for solutions, concerned they might have waited until it’s too late.

My answer is, yes, you have probably waited too long to protect and defend your retirement plan. I wrote that “Delay Could Be Fatal” nearly three years ago, in January of 2010. In 2013 the government will do anything it damned well wants in order to generate tax revenue and cut your benefits and there is little you can do to prevent that now, at this late date.
The Coming Obama Retirement Trap has Started///”

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WTF Files: FEMA Teams Told to ‘Sight-see’ While Sandy Victims Suffered

“Remember when Chris Christie was hugging Barack Obama as they posed for photo-ops after Superstorm Sandy hit New Jersey? He might have spent his time more profitably by making sure officials in the devastated areas were prepared to assist FEMA workers who were rushed to the scene and then told to go sightseeing for four days. A FEMA worker stated:

They told us to hurry, hurry, hurry. We rushed to Fort Dix, only to find out that our liaison didn’t even know we were coming.

He added that when he and his fellow emergency workers arrived at Fort Dix, officials brushed them off:

The regional coordinator even said to us, “I don’t know why you were rushed here because we don’t need you.” They told us to go to the Walmart nearby or to check out the area but told us to stay out of the areas affected by the storm. If our boss back at headquarters had not been alerted and didn’t make a push to get us assignments, the people running the show on the ground level would have just kept us sitting in the barracks….”

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Sandy Volunteers Facing Same Risks as 9/11 First Responders

“Volunteers and workers cleaning up the devastated regions flooded by Hurricane Sandy are facing dangerous mold and asbestos contamination, which could cause illness and litigation if they do not properly protect themselves.

Similar to the post-9/11 cleanup, unprotected workers may be subjecting themselves to crippling illnesses that could result in future lawsuits against those organizing the cleanup.

Greg Floyd, president of the Teamsters Local 237, said his nightmare had come true: mold is spreading rapidly through the homes and damaged buildings devastated by Hurricane Sandy, he told the Huffington Post. A month and a half after the storm struck New York City, the fungus has spread so rapidly that Floyd has held back thousands of public employees from helping in the cleanup process. His workers don’t have the training and protective equipment necessary to battle the fast-growing mold, which can cause severe respiratory health complications. Floyd fears that his organization will suffer the consequences of a legal battle if he sends untrained workers to battle the mold.

But the situation is dire and in need of assistance. Many hurricane victims whose homes are infested with the fungus do not have alternate living options and must therefore take the risk to remain in their contaminated homes. Those in the Rockaways are hardest hit by mold, but the US Health Department has no guidelines as to how severe the contamination must be before considering an evacuation….”

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