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Wednesday, July 24, 2013


I don’t know what’s more threatening to liberty and privacy – the National Security Agency’s monstrous eavesdropping efforts and satellite surveillance on American citizens or the plans for massive expansion by local, state and federal governments of spying on us from the air with drones.

Steve Peacock reports in WND the federal government is gearing up to ensure drones will soon be everywhere across the country in a plan to enforce regulations on the citizenry.

The latest discovery is that the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries recently acquired Puma UAS – a type of drone the U.S. Navy also uses – for operations off the coast of Los Angeles.

“ONMS now is enlisting contractor support in expanding UAS use in California, Hawaii, Florida, and Washington state,” reports Peacock. “Vendors experienced in working with law enforcement and military personnel are needed for this endeavor, according to a solicitation that WND located through routine database research.”

This is just one more expansion of drone surveillance. The U.S. Army is also evaluating contractor proposals to train operators of drones, specifically for Puma and Raven vehicles. As WND reported in late June, the Army says vendors will help it maintain nearly 1,800 Puma and Raven systems “currently fielded, and alternative medium and long range systems procured in the future.”

The key to good surveillance is stealth, and Puma UAS are quiet enough “to avoid detection and operate autonomously, providing persistent intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and targeting data,” according to their manufacturer, the Monrovia, California-based AeroVironment Inc., or AV.

Now, if use of drones were being used to make the Border Patrol’s job easier, Americans might not be so suspect. But that does not appear to be the case. Drones are being used to keep tabs on the activities of citizens, not non-citizens.

And what’s equally alarming is that drones were pioneered by the military and are now being employed to watch over civilians.

Here are some other recent drone developments chronicled by WND:
A $100 million drone hangar at Ft. Riley, Kan., is being planned by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The solicitation said the Army Corps project will focus on the construction of “a maintenance hangar for three Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) companies.”

The Army Corps also plans to build a $25 million, 30,000-square-yard airfield at Fort Hood, Texas, for UAS deployment. The construction of a drone hangar facility separately is slated for that location.

The U.S. Air Force awarded a $26 million contract to General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc., which will conduct research and development for the agency’s Aircraft Structural Integrity Program. The project, which the company will carry out at its Poway, Calif., facility, seeks to make improvements to the MQ-9 Reaper System, which the Air Force describes as a “larger and more heavily armed than the Predator UAV.”

The creation of air- and underwater-based UAV-launch technologies is being explored by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, which on Aug. 5 will meet with industry representatives to discuss what is known as the “Hydra” R&D project. DARPA’s Tactical Technology Office will hold the Proposers’ Day event at Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Md.
Technological advances in the collection and analysis of surveillance data and images – particularly that which can be used aboard drones – are being sought by the Rome, N.Y.-based Air Force Research Lab, which seeks to fund contractor-led R&D projects in its Multi-Intelligence Exploitation and Correlation initiative. “Given current levels of activity, operational requirements, hostile environments, and resources being heavily tasked, collection systems will need to be developed for embedding on advanced collection platforms, such as Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs),” the AFRL recently reported.

The government’s got some new eyes in the sky – and many more are coming.
Read more at http://mobile.wnd.com/2013/07/drones-drones-everywhere/#JSKbBqrB0Zl7EFXP.99

Russian Orthodox Leader Condemns Gay Marriages, Warns of Apocalypse

MOSCOW, July 21 (RIA Novosti) – Head of the Russian Orthodox Church warned Western governments on Sunday against legalization of same-sex marriages what he called a sign of approaching end of the world.

Patriarch Kirill said during a service at Moscow’s major cathedral that the recent initiatives in a range of countries to legalize same-sex marriages “is a dangerous and apocalyptic symptom” that should not spread over to Russia, according to Russian media reports.

While those who “fight the laws imposed by the minority are subject to repressions,” Kirill, who leads the Church known for its conservative views, was quoted as saying during his speech at Kazan Cathedral near Red Square on Sunday.

Russian authorities have been repeatedly criticized by human rights groups and Western officials over a recently passed law introducing punishment for “the promotion of nontraditional sexual relationships” among minors.

Ria Novosti

Urban warfare training exercises continue in Chicago area

In the late evening hours of July 22, several Blackhawk helicopters flew low over central areas of the city of Chicago without any lights, startling a number of residents who were not aware of the scheduled military helicopter training exercises.

A July 10 Chicago Tribune article on fresh exercises planned in the nearby suburb of Tinley Park cited Tinley Park Emergency Management Agency Director Pat Carr on helicopter exercises planned for July 23 and 24, but there was no indication of where these would be taking place.

Not visible on the City of Chicago web site front page, but placed in the Office of Emergency Management’s “News” section―having gone up on that site around 5:30 p.m. CT―was a vague notice reading, “The City of Chicago is providing support for a routine military training exercise in and around the Chicagoland area on July 22-25. This routine training is conducted by military personnel in cities across the country, designed to ensure the military’s ability to operate in urban environments as service members meet mandatory training certification requirements and prepare for upcoming overseas deployments. The training sites have been carefully selected to minimize the impact on the daily routine of residents. The training is not open to the public.”

A number of city residents turned to social media to find out what was going on, and throughout the evening and into Tuesday, a wide majority expressed their disagreement with the exercises and with the militarization of American cities more generally.

@HeatherStammen tweeted: “Blackhawk helicopters flying over my condo in the Loop, and all news stations are covering the royal birth, what’s up?”

Jerry Burch of New York wrote on NBCChicago.com: “These drills desensitize the public. The article calls them routine, we shouldn’t have routine urban warfare drills in a free or peaceful country. Having all these military and paramilitary drills with black vehicles is nothing but intimidation of the public using our own tax dollars. Why is this urban warfare practice so important? There seems to be zero accountability here.”

Craig Kegger wrote: “Who do they think they're kidding? Training for overseas? They are training for civil unrest here.”

The military training exercises reported to prepare troops for urban combat are scheduled to continue through July 25. Three months ago, on April 23 and 24, urban warfare training exercises were coordinated by the Department of Defense at a recently shuttered mental health facility in the suburb of Tinley Park. Additional exercises were carried out there on July 15 and 17, coordinated by the United States Navy.

Last April, similar helicopter drills were conducted in the afternoon hours over the Loop area ahead of the May 2012 North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Summit. City of Chicago officials are not indicating what branch of the military is carrying out the helicopter exercises over the city, but reiterated that they are “in preparation for overseas deployment.”

Since the unprecedented military lockdown of the city of Boston in April, it is evident that urban warfare exercises are increasingly relevant to the domestic policy of the ruling elite as it prepares for social unrest. The political preparation of the working class becomes a more urgent necessity.

World Socialist 

Paving The Path to Destruction

Japan scrambles jets after China plane flies by southern islands

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan scrambled fighter jets on Wednesday after a Chinese military aircraft flew for the first time through international airspace near its southern islands out over the Pacific, in a move seen by Japan as underlining China's maritime expansion.

Ties between China and Japan have been strained by a territorial dispute over uninhabited East China Sea islets and hawkish Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe won a decisive victory in upper house elections on Sunday.

Japan's Defense Ministry said a Chinese Y-8 airborne early warning plane flew through airspace between Okinawa prefecture's main island and the smaller Miyako island in southern Japan out over the Pacific at around noon and later took the same route back over the East China Sea.

"I believe this indicates China's move toward further maritime expansion," Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera told reporters, in comments carried on public broadcaster NHK.

Chinese government spokesmen were not immediately available for comment.

The waters around the disputed islands, called the Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China, and which are to the west of Okinawa's main island, are rich fishing grounds and the sea floor around them could hold big oil and gas reserves.

Tension between China and Japan escalated last September when Japan bought three of the disputed islands from a private Japanese owner.

Since then, patrol ships and aircraft from both countries have been shadowing each other in the sea and skies around the islets.

That has raised fears of an unintended collision leading to a broader clash.

Abe has pledged to take a firm stance in the territorial dispute, but said in his news conference following the upper house election win that Japan's door was open to dialogue.

Yahoo News

By Winter Unemployment Explodes, More Foreclosures-Worse than Great Depression

U.S. city looks to penalize Bible believers

Think it’s hot in Texas these days? Just wait a few weeks, until the San Antonio City Council ends its summer hiatus and resumes work on a proposed change to its nondiscrimination ordinances that apparently will discriminate against all who take the Bible at its word and follow it.

That’s because the change creates a penalty for those who ever exhibit a “bias,” which clearly could include adopting the Bible’s condemnation of homosexuality, with a permanent ban on participation in city government, business or employment.

Opponents of the plan, which would add “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to the nondiscrimination ordinances, charge it is a violation of constitutional Article VI, paragraph 3, which states, “[N]o religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.”

The opponents explain that the ordinance would bar anyone from office who has “demonstrated a bias” against someone based on categories that include “sexual orientation.”

The proposal, however, does not define “bias,” which, according to local church leaders, could mean someone who declares homosexual behavior is sinful.

The new ordinance would state: “No person shall be appointed to a position if the city council finds that such person has, prior to such proposed appointment, engaged in discrimination or demonstrated a bias, by word or deed, against any person, group or organization on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, veteran status, age, or disability.”

Anyone in office who demonstrates a bias would be considered guilty of “malfeasance” and removed from office.

Church leaders who oppose the proposed change argue it violates First Amendment rights to freedom of religion, freedom of speech and freedom of association. It also violates, they say, the Texas Religious Freedom Act and the Texas Constitution.

Pastor Charles Flowers of Faith Outreach International, who has been alerting city residents about the issue, told OneNewsNow that the reference to “bias” could mean anything.

“The ordinance … says that if you have at any point demonstrate a bias – without defining what a bias is or who will determine whether or not one has been exercised – that you cannot get a city contract,” Flowers said. “Neither can any of your subcontractors [who have demonstrated a bias] sign on to the contract.”

He called the measure “unprecedentedly wrong” and said “the citizens of San Antonio must stop it.”

Many pastors are concerned, reported KHOU-TV’s Joe Conger in Houston.

“Ever have a Paula Deen moment – make an off-color joke or hold a religious belief?” Conger said. “[Pastor Steve] Branson [of Village Parkway Baptist Church] says keep it to yourself if you’re involved with San Antonio city government. Proposed changes to the anti-discrimination ordinance could get you fired.”

“If you voice any opinion, no matter how many years back it’s been, it can be used against you,” Branson told the station. “City employees are going to be greatly affected by this.”

The KHOU report said more than a dozen church leaders met to discuss the looming issue.

An analysis released by pastors said the “ordinance violates Texas and federal Constitutions by creating a religious test for involvement in city government.”

The church leaders said it allows the city council “to prohibit those that speak their religious beliefs regarding homosexuality from serving on city boards.”

“For example, if a person publicly expresses their religious belief that homosexual behavior is a sin – even if this expression is at a church service – that person could be frozen out of involvement with city government.”

The analysis also contends businesses “run by people of faith will be subject to criminal penalties if they refuse to provide services that conflict with their religious beliefs relating to homosexuality.”

The council, which declined to advance the plan when it first was discussed, is scheduled to resume talks on the controversy in August.
Read more at http://www.wnd.com/2013/07/u-s-city-looks-to-penalize-bible-believers/#LrV4AOromruqSSHY.99