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81

      

By B.N. Frank


It’s a shame that 5G has already been installed and continues to be installed in many American communities.  Last summer, Dr. Naomi Wolf reported about 5G being installed in New York City but only after residents and their pets became sick.


Overseas, the first 5G court case was won in Gateshead, England last year – but not until after it had been installed, residents became sick, and some women delivered stillborn babies.


The Telecom Industry can’t say 5G is safe and many scientific studies have already proven that 5G is NOT SAFE. Unfortunately, this still hasn’t stopped the promotion and installation of 5G across the United States.  This is why Americans for Responsible Technology is asking EVERYONE to call on wireless companies (Verizon, Sprint, AT&T and T-Mobile) and their sub-contractors (Crown Castle, ExteNet Systems and other antenna installers) and ask them to suspend the deployment of small cell wireless antennas in residential neighborhoods until exposure to 5G can be proven to be safe.


         



      

And when they say call on them – they mean show up at the coordinated events that are being planned in front of retail wireless establishments in cities and towns across the country from 12 noon to 1:30 p.m. (local time) on Wednesday, May 15th.


Brussels recently decided to suspend 5G installation due to health risks.  Don’t you wish everybody would?


For more information, email [email protected]





Image credit: Pixabay


   
82

      

By Dagny Taggart


If you live in Florida and want the freedom to plant food on your own property, I have great news for you.


Late last month, the Florida Senate affirmed the right of self-reliant people statewide to grow vegetable gardens in their front yards.


Here are some details on the bill from the Miami Herald:



The 40-member Senate vote was 35-5.


Sen. Rob Bradley’s SB 82 prohibits a county or municipality from regulating vegetable gardens on residential properties, voiding any current regulations regarding the produce patches.


Local governments, however, can still adopt a local ordinance or regulation that doesn’t specifically target vegetable gardens, like regulating water during drought conditions, limiting fertilizer use or controlling invasive species.



         



      

A couple was forced to rip out their garden.


While it might seem odd that people would need government permission to grow food on their own property, the bill was passed in response to a legal dispute about an ordinance in Miami Shores that banned gardens from being planted in front yards.


In 2017, Hermine Ricketts and Tom Carroll, who had a vegetable garden in their front yard for 17 years, were told they could grow flowers in their front yard, but the fresh produce had to go, reports Treehugger:


Hermine Ricketts and Tom Carroll, indignant at the fact that vegetables were deemed more offensive than boats, RVs, jet skis, statues, fountains, gnomes, pink flamingoes, or Santa in a Speedo in one’s front yard, took their case to the Florida Supreme Court, which ruled in favour of Miami Shores’ right to control design and landscaping standards. In other words, it was a loss for Ricketts and Carroll. (source)


“It’s all about conformity. Miami Shores wants to be a mini Coral Gables,” Ricketts said. “What is the definition of edible? I can go into any front yard and find something edible because every plant has an edible part.”


“That’s what government does – interferes in people’s lives,” Ricketts told the Miami Herald in December 2017. “We had that garden for 17 years. We ate fresh meals every day from that garden. Since the village stepped its big foot in it, they have ruined our garden and my health.”



The couple faced heavy fines for their front-yard garden.




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Ricketts and Carroll didn’t face jail time for daring to have a garden, but they did face $50 fines – DAILY – after the village amended its ordinance in 2013.


Back in 2017, the Miami Herald reported:



They had to dig up their garden, which won’t grow in their north-facing backyard because of a lack of sun. But they have continued to fight Miami Shores in court with help from the Institute for Justice, a national non-profit libertarian law firm.


“This decision gives local governments tremendous leeway to regulate harmless activities in the name of aesthetics,” said Institute lawyer Ari Bargil. “It gives government the power to prohibit homeowners from growing plants in their front yards simply because they intend to eat them.” (source)



An appeals court upheld a ruling that the couple does not have a constitutional right to grow vegetables in their front yard in November 2017.


In March of this year, the couple had a big win.


The front-yard garden ban got the attention of enough senators, and a new bill passed in mid-March that states that Floridians are now able to grow fruit and vegetables in their front yards without fear of local government fines.


The Miami Herald reports that Republican Senator Rob Bradley sponsored the bill and described it as a “vast overreach.” Given how many food deserts exist and how hard it can be for many families to access fresh and affordable food, such bans are an absurd step in the wrong direction. Bradley said,





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The world is changing when it comes to food. There’s a big interest when it comes to locally sourced food or organic products. It is our role, our duty to review decisions that are made in the courts that uphold local government actions that violate property rights in the State of Florida … When you own a piece of property, you should be able to grow food on that property for your family’s consumption. (source)


Bargill, the lawyer who represented Ricketts and Carroll, said he is pleased with the new legislation, and added that he “looks forward to the day where no Floridian would worry about crippling fines for the offense of growing cabbage.”


This bill is a great start and may inspire others to follow suit.


The bill only preempts local government rules, not restrictions set by homeowners’ associations or other groups, but it is a move in the right direction, explains Treehugger:


But it’s a great start, and one that will hopefully inspire others to rip up their useless grass and plant some useful vegetables instead. The more front-yard vegetable gardens there are, the more normalized it will become – and the more secure the food system will be, too. (source)


What do you think?


Should governments regulate what kind of gardens people grow in their yards? What do you think about front-yard gardens?



About the Author


Dagny Taggart is the pseudonym of an experienced journalist who needs to maintain anonymity to keep her job in the public eye. Dagny is non-partisan and aims to expose the half-truths, misrepresentations, and blatant lies of the MSM.


H/T to Barbara


   
            


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83

      

By Tyler Durden


(Activist Post Editor’s Note: This topic was covered extensively this month in our premium newsletter Counter Markets. You can get a free issue here. The parallels between this “trustworthiness score” and the social credit system being used in China could not be clearer. In fact, part of the Counter Markets article “Social Credit Systems Overt and Covert Explained” features a Chinese citizen who discusses his own slide into “untrustworthiness” and what it means for day-to-day living. This is not trending well.)


Nearly everything we buy, how we buy, and where we’re buying from is secretly fed into AI-powered verification services that help companies guard against credit-card and other forms of fraud, according to the Wall Street Journal.


More than 16,000 signals are analyzed by a service called Sift, which generates a “Sift score” ranging from 1 – 100. The score is used to flag devices, credit cards and accounts that a vendor may want to block based on a person or entity’s overall “trustworthiness” score, according to a company spokeswoman.


         



      

From the Sift website:


Each time we get an event — be it a page view or an API event — we extract features related to those events and compute the Sift Score. These features are then weighed based on fraud we’ve seen both on your site and within our global network, and determine a user’s Score. There are features that can negatively impact a Score as well as ones which have a positive impact.



The system is similar to a credit score – except there’s no way to find out your own Sift score.



Factors which contribute to one’s Sift score (per the WSJ):



Is the account new?
Are there are a lot of digits at the end of an email address?
Is the transaction coming from an IP address that’s unusual for your account?
Is the transaction coming from a region where there are a lot of hackers, such as China, Russia or Eastern Europe?
Is the transaction coming from an anonymization network?
Is the transaction happening at an odd time of day?
Has the credit card being used had chargebacks associated with it?
Is the browser different from what you typically use?
Is the device different from what you typically use?
Is the cadence of the way you typed out your password typical for you? (tracked by some advanced systems)

Sources: Sift, SecureAuth, Patreon


The system is used by companies such as Airbnb, OpenTable, Instacart and LinkedIn.




Companies that use services like this often mention it in their privacy policies—see Airbnb’s here—but how many of us realize our account behaviors are being shared with companies we’ve never heard of, in the name of security? How much of the information one company shares with these fraud-detection services is used by other clients of that service? And why can’t we access any of this data ourselves, to update, correct or delete it?


According to Sift and competitors such as SecureAuth, which has a similar scoring system, this practice complies with regulations such as the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation, which mandates that companies don’t store data that can be used to identify real human beings unless they give permission.


Unfortunately GDPR, which went into effect a year ago, has rules that are often vaguely worded, says Lisa Hawke, vice president of security and compliance at the legal tech startup Everlaw. All of this will have to get sorted out in court, she adds. –Wall Street Journal







In order to optimize scoring “Sift regularly evaluates the performance of our models and tries to minimize bias and variance in order to maximize accuracy,” according to a spokeswoman.


“While we don’t perform audits of our customers’ systems for bias, we enable the organizations that use our platform to have as much visibility as possible into the decision trees, models or data that were used to reach a decision,” according to SecureAuth Vice President and chief security architect Stephen Cox. “In some cases, we may not be fully aware of the means by which our services and products are being used within a customer’s environment.


Not always right


While Sift and SecureAuth strive for accuracy, sometimes it’s difficult to decipher authentic purchasing behavior from fraud.


“Sometimes your best customers and your worst customers look the same,” said Jacqueline Hart, head of trust and safety at Patreon – a site used by artists and creators to allow benefactors to support them. “You can have someone come in and say I want to pledge $10,000 and they’re either a fraudster or an amazing patron of the arts,” Hart added.


If an account is rejected due to its Sift score, Patreon directs the benefactor to the company’s trust and safety team. “It’s an important way for us to find out if there are any false positives from the Sift score and reinstate the account if it shouldn’t have been flagged as high risk,” said Hart.



There are many potential tells that a transaction is fishy. “The amazing thing to me is when someone fails to log in effectively, you know it’s a real person,” says Ms. Hart. The bots log in perfectly every time. Email addresses with a lot of numbers at the end and brand new accounts are also more likely to be fraudulent, as are logins coming from anonymity networks such as Tor.


These services also learn from every transaction across their entire system, and compare data from multiple clients. For instance, if an account or mobile device has been associated with fraud at, say, Instacart, that could mark it as risky for another company, say Wayfair—even if the credit card being used seems legitimate, says a Sift spokeswoman. –Wall Street Journal





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A person’s Sift score is constantly changing based on that user’s behavior, and any new information the system gathers about them, according to the spokeswoman. From Sift:


We learn in real-time, which means Scores are constantly being recalculated based on new knowledge of fraudulent users and patterns. For example, when someone logs in, we’ve found out a lot of information in the meantime about suspicious devices, IP addresses, shipping addresses, etc., based on the activity of other users. Add this to the fact that there may have been some new labeled users since their last login, and the scores can sometimes have a significant change. This is also more likely if the user hasn’t had much activity on your site. –Sift.com


While Sift judges whether or not one can be trusted, there’s no file with your name on it that it can produce for review – because it doesn’t need your name to analyze your behavior, according to the report – which seems like total BS.


“Our customers will send us events like ‘account created,’ ‘profile photo uploaded,’ ‘someone sent a message,’ ‘review written,’ ‘an item was added to shopping cart,” says Sift CEO Jason Tan.



It’s technically possible to make user data difficult or impossible to link to a real person. Apple and others say they take steps to prevent such “de-anonymizing.” Sift doesn’t use those techniques. And an individual’s name can be among the characteristics its customers share with it in order to determine the riskiness of a transaction.


In the gap between who is taking responsibility for user data—Sift or its clients—there appears to be ample room for the kind of slip-ups that could run afoul of privacy laws. Without an audit of such a system it’s impossible to know. Companies live under increasing threat of prosecution, but as just-released research on biases in Facebook ’s advertising algorithm suggest, even the most sophisticated operators don’t seem to be fully aware of how their systems are behaving. –Wall Street Journal



“I would argue that in our desire to protect privacy, we have to be careful, because are we going to make it impossible for the good guys to perform the necessary function of security?” asks Anshu Sharma – co-founder of Clearedin, a startup which helps companies avoid falling victim to email phishing attacks.


His solution? Transparency. When a company rejects a potential customer based on their Sift score, for example, it should explain why – even if that exposes how the scoring system works.


Click here to subscribe: Join over one million monthly readers and receive breaking news, strategies, ideas and commentary.


   
            


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84

      

By Matt Agorist


Lansing, MI — In January, temperatures in Lansing, Michigan plummeted far below freezing making it extremely dangerous for those who are homeless. Knowing people would likely freeze to death if they stayed outside, one couple decided to help out those less fortunate than them. However, instead of being praised for their good deed, the couple was arrested.


Julia Miller and Martin Mashon were handing out bus tokens in January so that homeless people could go to the bus station instead of staying outside and freezing to death. They are advocates for the less fortunate and during weather emergencies like this one, they often hand out coats and help people make it to warming centers. But on this particular day, the police would show up to put a halt to their kindness.


On January 26, during a polar vortex and weather emergency, temperatures had fallen well below zero so Mashon and Miller went to the CATA station to hand out tokens and try to save lives. But body camera footage shows that police showed up and acted like the couple was robbing the place.


         



      

“This isn’t a warming station, it’s a bus station so there’s no loitering,” the officer says after he ran up to the couple like there was some sort of emergency.


“But it’s a great place for people to stay warm,” said Mashon.


“I know it’s cold out,” said the officer in the video, “But that doesn’t give you a right to loiter somewhere, where loitering’s not permitted.”


According to many folks who have commented on the video, the director of the CATA bus station has an open door policy during cold weather and allows the less fortunate to “loiter” in the station to stay warm. However, it appears that the police wanted nothing of it.


Despite the director’s reported policy, the officer asked the couple of they were waiting for a bus.


Mashon said, “No I’m not actually.”


“Then you’re gonna have to leave,” said the officer.


Mashon said, “Actually this is a warm place that I help pay for.”


After several minutes, the conversation got heated.


“No I’m trying to explain something to you and you won’t stop talking,” said the officer.


Mashon said, “Are you my master, am I your slave now.”


“Take your hand out of your pocket,” said the officer.






Mashon said, “Excuse me?”


“Take your hand out of your pocket,” the officer repeats as he moves in to arrest Mashon.


Mashon said, “Woah, don’t touch me.”


“What do you have in your pocket,” said the officer. “Easy, easy, easy.”


Mashon said, “Don’t touch me.”


“Relax, relax, relax,” said the officer.


Mashon said, “Let go of me. Why are you touching me?”


“Stop,” said the officer. “Stop.”




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Mashon said, “Why are you touching me?”


The officer then throws Mashon up against the window and puts him in handcuffs. Moments later he arrests Miller as well.


Miller was charged with trespassing and Mashon was charged with trespassing and hindering an officer.


Miller explained that they plan on fighting the charges and are asking for the police to apologize as well as implement a policy for helping the homeless during weather emergencies.


“Don’t they understand that if they A. Drop all charges against both Martin and myself. B. Offer a public apology in regards to the excessive force and verbiage the officer used and C. Implement a plan of action that involves several local homeless advocacy groups in regards to what needs to be done during weather emergencies that the chances of us deciding to pursue a civil suit will lessen AND it will save them some face,” Miller wrote on Facebook.


She says that is not likely to happen, however.


Below is a video showing what helping the homeless looks like in a police state.



Matt Agorist is an honorably discharged veteran of the USMC and former intelligence operator directly tasked by the NSA. This prior experience gives him unique insight into the world of government corruption and the American police state. Agorist has been an independent journalist for over a decade and has been featured on mainstream networks around the world. Agorist is also the Editor at Large at the Free Thought Project, where this article first appeared. Follow @MattAgorist on Twitter, Steemit, and now on Minds.


   
            


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85

      

By Michael Snyder


Less than a month after a “bomb cyclone” caused a “1,000 year flood” in the middle portion of the country, another “bomb cyclone” of similar strength is going to bring even more flooding to the High Plains and Upper Midwest.  According to meteorologists, it is being projected that this new “bomb cyclone” will be “similar in intensity and in snowfall” to the last one, and the latest forecast is calling for “more than 30 inches in some areas”.


The floods that we witnessed last month absolutely devastated communities throughout the region, and now it is going to happen again.  The middle part of our nation has literally never seen anything like this happen ever before, and this is easily the worst natural disaster to hit the United States since Hurricane Katrina.


Before I get into the details of the latest weather forecast, let’s review what we have witnessed so far.  “At least 1 million acres of U.S. farmland” were under water for at least 7 days last month, according to Agriculture Secretary Sunny Purdue “as many as a million calves” were lost in the flooding in the state of Nebraska alone, and hundreds of millions of dollars worth of crops were destroyed.  Thousands upon thousands of farmers were financially ruined, and thousands of farmers will not be able to plant any crops at all this year.


If you can point out a worse agricultural disaster in the last 50 years in the United States, please feel free to do so.  To my knowledge, there isn’t one.


And now a second “bomb cyclone” is on the way this week.  According to CBS News, it looks like this “bomb cyclone” will produce “a blizzard of epic proportions”…



Only three weeks after a “bomb cyclone” — one of the most intense storms on record — pummeled the Plains and Midwest, another bomb cyclone of similar strength has been forecast. This spring storm seems poised to dump even heavier snow; it could also be followed by another round of significant river flooding.


Over the past few days, various forecast computer models have shown a blizzard of epic proportions for the north-central Plain States and Upper Midwest. Every time a model is updated, the storm depicted seems to get even more intense. At this point, it seems likely that some of the same areas impacted by devastating flooding just weeks ago are about to get slammed by an historic blizzard Wednesday through Friday.



Some Midwest communities already look like they have literally been through a war.


What do you think they are going to look like after another epic blizzard and more severe flooding rips through them?


If you are not familiar with the term “bomb cyclone”, here is a pretty good explanation from MSN…



A bomb cyclone is a rapid drop in air pressure — at least 24 millibars in 24 hours — and often is over or near oceans or seas because it requires warm moist air smacking into cold dry air, along with volatile weather from the jet stream. The central and mountain part of the country may get one of these every few winters, said Greg Carbin, forecast branch chief for the National Weather Service’s Weather Prediction Center in Maryland.


But this would be the second such storm in less than a month. The March 13 storm caused massive flooding in the Midwest, a blizzard in Colorado and Wyoming, and produced winds of between 96 mph and 110 mph (155 and 177.02 kph).







According to the National Weather Service, this new storm will dump a lot of snow on the northern Rockies on Tuesday, and from there it “will pick up in intensity as it moves into the central USA by Wednesday and into Thursday”.


The forecast is calling for the heaviest snow to fall in parts of Nebraska, South Dakota and Minnesota.


If you will remember, Nebraska was hit by flooding unlike anything it had ever seen before last month.  And now we are being told that this new storm “will further exacerbate flooding in Nebraska”…


“This blizzard will further exacerbate flooding in Nebraska with the added insult of heavy snowfall to eventually melt,” said Ryan Maue, a meteorologist at the private weathermodels.com. “This is more bad news for suffering farmers who are unable to flip the calendar on winter.”


Even before this storm, the National Weather Service was warning that there would be “above-average precipitation across much of the Lower 48” over the next few months and that 200 million Americans were at risk of being affected by flooding.


But nobody was expecting another “bomb cyclone” to come so soon.


I have been repeatedly warning my readers that our planet is becoming increasingly unstable and that global weather patterns are really starting to go haywire.  We are seeing things happen that we have never seen before, and what I have shared in this article is yet another example.




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Since January 1st, the middle portion of the country has already received approximately twice the precipitation that it normally does, and that doesn’t even count the precipitation from the “bomb cyclone” that is about to strike.


The crop losses that we have already witnessed are absolutely staggering, and now we are about to get hit with another severe blow.


Earlier today I went to the grocery store, and I was stunned by the high prices.


But the truth is that this is as low as food prices are going to get.  A series of catastrophic events threatens to significantly reduce global food production this year.  If you doubt this, just check out what has been happening in China.


We like to think that we are immune to the forces of nature that have played havoc with other societies throughout human history, but we aren’t.


Right now we are watching a great human tragedy play out in the middle portion of the country, but since we depend on them to grow much of our food, the truth is that we are all going to be feeling the pain of this tragedy in the months ahead.


About the author: Michael Snyder is a nationally-syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is the author of four books including Get Prepared Now, The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters. His articles are originally published on The Economic Collapse Blog, End Of The American Dream and The Most Important News. From there, his articles are republished on dozens of other prominent websites. If you would like to republish his articles, please feel free to do so. The more people that see this information the better, and we need to wake more people up while there is still time.


   
            


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86

      

By Technocracy News and Trends


Hotels are being retrofitted from top to bottom into “smart hotels” where everything is controlled by apps, AI and robots. Ostensibly, maids still have a job to make up rooms after a stay. Facial recognition is your ticket to VIP treatment. ⁃ TN Editor


Alibaba has created the hotel of the future and it’s wild, wonderful, and just a little creepy. FlyZoo, which is reportedly a Chinese pun for “must stay,” is a 290-room ultra-modern boutique hotel in Hangzhou, China that lets guests play with technology, check in with ease, and spend the night in the future for a low price of around $205—and at the cost of your privacy.


Thanks to technology culled from across Alibaba’s vast network of companies, most notably Fliggy, Alibaba’s online travel platform, guests can immerse themselves in the crossroads of hospitality and technology. As Skift reports, it all starts with booking through an app, where guests can pick a floor and a view, exploring the minimalist room.


         



      


Check-in is a breeze, too, especially for Chinese guests who can use the app to scan their faces to expedite the process (for now foreign guests must use lobby kiosks). No need to pick up a key from the lobby, because the elevator will scan your face and take you to the correct floor, and your face will open the room door.



Once inside the room, requests for water, new towels, extra pillows, and more will be taken by Ask Genie, Alibaba’s Alexa-like assistant, and a three-foot tall robot will deliver the goods. Too hot? Too cold? Too many lights? Ask Genie to shut the curtains or crank up the heat.


Hungry guests can head to the hotel restaurant where a robotic bartender is mixing up drinks and food ordered via the FlyZoo app will be delivered by other robots. Forget your wallet? No problem: Face-scanning technology will send the charges straight to your room bill.


The hotel’s technology is impressive, because as Skift notes, Alibaba had a lot of tech to pull from: There’s Fliggy providing user experience design, Damo Academy for artificial intelligence, data analytics labs, and robotics, and Tmall Marketplace for marketing.


   
87
Huffington Post General Discussion / Enough Crony Capitalism!
« Last post by administrator on April 09, 2019, 07:20:16 PM »

      

By John Stossel


Established businesses, like Facebook, use government to limit competition.


Once, Microsoft had zero lobbyists. The company focused on innovating.


Microsoft in the early 1990s was the largest company in the world. Incredibly successful … They had no presence in Washington DC. Not a single lawyer,” Yaron Brook of the Ayn Rand Institute tells John Stossel.


But things changed.


         



      


Subscribe to my YouTube channel: http://youtube.com/johnstossel


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Follow me on Twitter: https://twitter.com/johnstossel


   
88

      

By Tyler Durden


(ZH) — Just hours after President Trump formally designated Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps as a terrorist organization, Iran’s foreign ministry has put forward a bill placing US Central Command on a list of organizations designated as terrorists, akin to Daesh.


Statement from the President on the Designation of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a Foreign Terrorist Organization



Today, I am formally announcing my Administration’s plan to designate Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), including its Qods Force, as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) under Section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act.  This unprecedented step, led by the Department of State, recognizes the reality that Iran is not only a State Sponsor of Terrorism, but that the IRGC actively participates in, finances, and promotes terrorism as a tool of statecraft.  The IRGC is the Iranian government’s primary means of directing and implementing its global terrorist campaign.


This designation will be the first time that the United States has ever named a part of another government as a FTO.  It underscores the fact that Iran’s actions are fundamentally different from those of other governments.  This action will significantly expand the scope and scale of our maximum pressure on the Iranian regime.  It makes crystal clear the risks of conducting business with, or providing support to, the IRGC.  If you are doing business with the IRGC, you will be bankrolling terrorism.


This action sends a clear message to Tehran that its support for terrorism has serious consequences.  We will continue to increase financial pressure and raise the costs on the Iranian regime for its support of terrorist activity until it abandons its malign and outlaw behavior.



         



      

But, as Sputnik News reports, the Iranian Foreign Ministry responded to the designation on Monday, recommending that President Hassan Rouhani designate US Central Command (US CENTCOM), a US military theatre-level command whose area of responsibility includes the Middle East, on the list of organisations designated as terrorists by Iran.


Previously, the Iranian Foreign Minister noted that those US officials who advocated IRGC blacklisting, “seek to drag the US into a quagmire”.


“#NetanyahuFirsters who have long agitated for FTO (Foreign Terrorist Organisation) of the IRGC fully understand its consequences for US forces in the region. In fact, they seek to drag the US into a quagmire on his behalf,” Mohammed Javad Zarif said on his Twitter account. “@realDonaldTrump should know better than to be conned into another US disaster.”


Iranian officials previously warned that the IRGC’s inclusion on the US terror list would be a “mistake” which would prompt Tehran to equate the US military with Daesh (ISIS). Heshmatollah Falahatpisheh, chairman of the Iranian parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, said a bill to this effect had already been prepared.


Tyler Durden / Republished with permission / Zero Hedge / Report a typo


   
89

      

By John W. Whitehead



If you drive a car, I’ll tax the street,
If you try to sit, I’ll tax your seat.
If you get too cold I’ll tax the heat,
If you take a walk, I’ll tax your feet.


Don’t ask me what I want it for
If you don’t want to pay some more
‘Cause I’m the taxman, yeah, I’m the taxman…
And you’re working for no one but me.
— George Harrison, “Taxman”



We’re not living the American Dream. We’re in the grip of a financial nightmare.


“We the people” have become the new, permanent underclass in America.


         



      

We get taxed on how much we earn, taxed on what we eat, taxed on what we buy, taxed on where we go, taxed on what we drive, and taxed on how much is left of our assets when we die, and yet we have no real say in how the government runs, or how our taxpayer funds are used.


Case in point: Lawmakers across the country have been acting as fronts for corporations, sponsoring more than 10,000 model laws written by corporations, industry groups and think tanks such as the American Legislative Exchange Council.


Make no mistake: this is fascism disguised as legislative expediency.


As a recent investigative report by USA TODAY, The Arizona Republic and the Center for Public Integrity points out, these copycat bills have been used to “override the will of local voters” and advance the agendas of the corporate state. “Disguised as the work of lawmakers, these so-called ‘model’ bills get copied in one state Capitol after another, quietly advancing the agenda of the people who write them.”


In this way, laws that promise to protect the public “actually bolster the corporate bottom line.”


For example, “The Asbestos Transparency Act didn’t help people exposed to asbestos. It was written by corporations who wanted to make it harder for victims to recoup money. The ‘HOPE Act,’ introduced in nine states, was written by a conservative advocacy group to make it more difficult for people to get food stamps.”


Talk about Orwellian.


So we have no real say in how the government runs, or how our taxpayer funds are used, but that doesn’t prevent the government from fleecing us at every turn.


This is true whether you’re talking about taxpayers being forced to fund high-priced weaponry that will be used against us, endless wars that do little for our safety or our freedoms, or bloated government agencies such as the National Security Agency with its secret budgets, covert agendas and clandestine activities. Even monetary awards in lawsuits against government officials who are found guilty of wrongdoing are paid by the taxpayer.


We’re being forced to pay for endless wars that do more to fund the military industrial complex than protect us, for misguided pork barrel projects that do little to enhance our lives, and for the trappings of a police state that serves only to imprison us within its walls.


All the while the government continues to do whatever it likes—levy taxes, rack up debt, spend outrageously and irresponsibly—with little thought for the plight of its citizens.


We’re being played as easy marks by hustlers bearing the imprimatur of the government.


Truly, if there is an absolute maxim by which the federal government seems to operate, it is that the taxpayers—who fuel the nation’s economy and fund the government’s programs—always get ripped off.


Examples abound of wasteful government spending.


$28 million for a camouflage pattern for the Afghan National Army’s uniforms that had to be discarded because it clashes with the desert; $80 million to corral wild horses that would fare better unpenned; $5 million for a study to conclude that fraternity and sorority members drink more than their peers; and more than $1 billion worth of small arms, mortars, Humvees, and other equipment that has gone “missing” in Iraq.


If Americans managed their personal finances the way the government mismanages the nation’s finances, we’d all be in debtors’ prison by now.


Still, the government remains unrepentant, unfazed and undeterred in its money grabs.


Because the government’s voracious appetite for money, power and control has grown out of control, its agents have devised other means of funding its excesses and adding to its largesse through taxes disguised as fines, taxes disguised as fees, and taxes disguised as tolls, tickets and penalties.


With every new tax, fine, fee and law adopted by our so-called representatives, the yoke around the neck of the average American seems to tighten just a little bit more.


Everywhere you go, everything you do, and every which way you look, we’re getting swindled, cheated, conned, robbed, raided, pickpocketed, mugged, deceived, defrauded, double-crossed and fleeced by governmental and corporate shareholders of the American police state out to make a profit at taxpayer expense.


The overt and costly signs of the despotism exercised by the increasingly authoritarian regime that passes itself off as the United States government are all around us: warrantless surveillance of Americans’ private phone and email conversations by the NSA; SWAT team raids of Americans’ homes; shootings of unarmed citizens by police; harsh punishments meted out to schoolchildren in the name of zero tolerance; armed drones taking to the skies domestically; endless wars; out-of-control spending; militarized police; roadside strip searches; roving TSA sweeps; privatized prisons with a profit incentive for jailing Americans; fusion centers that collect and disseminate data on Americans’ private transactions; and militarized agencies such as the IRS, Dept. of Education, the Smithsonian and others with stockpiles of ammunition, to name some of the most appalling.


Meanwhile, the three branches of government (Executive, Legislative and Judicial) and the agencies under their command—Defense, Commerce, Education, Homeland Security, Justice, Treasury, etc.—have switched their allegiance to the Corporate State with its unassailable pursuit of profit at all costs and by any means possible.


We are now ruled by a government consumed with squeezing every last penny out of the population and seemingly unconcerned if essential freedoms are trampled in the process.


While we’re struggling to get by, and making tough decisions about how to spend what little money actually makes it into our pockets after the federal, state and local governments take their share (this doesn’t include the stealth taxes imposed through tolls, fines and other fiscal penalties), the police state is spending our hard-earned tax dollars to further entrench its powers and entrap its citizens.


If you want to know the real motives behind the government’s agenda, follow the money trail.


When you dig down far enough, you quickly find that those who profit from Americans being surveilled, fined, scanned, searched, probed, tasered, arrested and imprisoned are none other than the police who arrest them, the courts which try them, the prisons which incarcerate them, and the corporations, which manufacture the weapons, equipment and prisons used by the American police state.


It gets worse.


Americans have also been made to pay through the nose for the government’s endless wars, subsidization of foreign nations, military empire, welfare state, roads to nowhere, bloated workforce, secret agencies, fusion centers, private prisons, biometric databases, invasive technologies, arsenal of weapons, and every other budgetary line item that is contributing to the fast-growing wealth of the corporate elite at the expense of those who are barely making ends meet—that is, we the taxpayers.


Those football stadiums that charge exorbitant sums for nosebleed seats? Our taxpayer dollars subsidize them.






Those blockbuster war films? Yep, we were the silent investors on those, too.


This isn’t freedom.


You’re not free if the government can seize your home and your car (which you’ve bought and paid for) over nonpayment of taxes.


You’re not free if government agents can freeze and seize your bank accounts and other valuables if they merely “suspect” wrongdoing.


And you’re certainly not free if the IRS gets the first cut of your salary to pay for government programs over which you have no say.


If you have no choice, no voice, and no real options when it comes to the government’s claims on your property and your money, you’re not free.


As former Congressman Ron Paul observed, “The Founding Fathers never intended a nation where citizens would pay nearly half of everything they earn to the government.”


Unfortunately, somewhere over the course of the past 240-plus years, democracy has given way to kleptocracy (a government ruled by thieves), and representative government has been rejected in favor of a kakistocracy (a government run by the most unprincipled citizens that panders to the worst vices in our nature: greed, violence, hatred, prejudice and war) ruled by career politicians, corporations and thieves—individuals and entities with little regard for the rights of American citizens.


The American kleptocracy continues to suck the American people down a rabbit hole into a parallel universe in which the Constitution is meaningless, the government is all-powerful, and the citizenry is powerless to defend itself against government agents who steal, spy, lie, plunder, kill, abuse and generally inflict mayhem and sow madness on everyone and everything in their sphere.


This dissolution of that sacred covenant between the citizenry and the government—establishing “we the people” as the masters and the government as the servant—didn’t happen overnight.


It didn’t happen because of one particular incident or one particular president.


It has been a process, one that began long ago and continues in the present day, aided and abetted by politicians who have mastered the polarizing art of how to “divide and conquer.”


By playing on our prejudices about those who differ from us, capitalizing on our fears for our safety, and deepening our distrust of those fellow citizens whose opinions run counter to our own, the powers-that-be have effectively divided us into polarized, warring camps incapable of finding consensus on the one true menace that is an immediate threat to all of our freedoms: the U.S. government.


We are now the subjects of a militarized, corporate empire in which the vast majority of the citizenry work their hands to the bone for the benefit of a privileged few.


Adding injury to the ongoing insult of having our tax dollars misused and our so-called representatives bought and paid for by the moneyed elite, the government then turns around and uses the money we earn with our blood, sweat and tears to target, imprison and entrap us.


All of those nefarious government deeds that you read about in the paper every day: those are your tax dollars at work.




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So what are you going to do about it?


There was a time in our history when our forebears said “enough is enough” and stopped paying their taxes to what they considered an illegitimate government. They stood their ground and refused to support a system that was slowly choking out any attempts at self-governance, and which refused to be held accountable for its crimes against the people. Their resistance sowed the seeds for the revolution that would follow.


Unfortunately, in the 200-plus years since we established our own government, we’ve let bankers, turncoats and number-crunching bureaucrats muddy the waters and pilfer the accounts to such an extent that we’re back where we started.


Once again, we’ve got a despotic regime with an imperial ruler doing as they please.


Once again, we’ve got a judicial system insisting we have no rights under a government which demands that the people march in lockstep with its dictates.


And once again, we’ve got to decide whether we’ll keep marching or break stride and make a turn toward freedom.


But what if we didn’t just pull out our pocketbooks and pony up to the federal government’s outrageous demands for more money?


What if we didn’t just dutifully line up to drop our hard-earned dollars into the collection bucket, no questions asked about how it will be spent?


What if, instead of quietly sending in our tax checks, hoping vainly for some meager return, we did a little calculating of our own and started deducting from our taxes those programs that we refuse to support?


As I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, if we don’t have the right to decide what happens to our hard-earned cash, then we don’t have any rights at all.


After all, the government isn’t taking our money to make our lives better.


We’re being robbed blind so the governmental elite can get richer.


This is nothing less than financial tyranny.



ABOUT JOHN W. WHITEHEAD


Constitutional attorney and author John W. Whitehead is founder and president of The Rutherford Institute. His new book Battlefield America: The War on the American People  (SelectBooks, 2015) is available online at www.amazon.com. Whitehead can be contacted at [email protected].


Publication Guidelines / Reprint Permission


John W. Whitehead’s weekly commentaries are available for publication to newspapers and web publications at no charge. Please contact [email protected] to obtain reprint permission.


Image credit: The Free Thought Project


   
            


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90

      

By B.N. Frank


Californians have a long history fighting cell tower and antenna installation – and for good reason.  Besides being ugly, reducing property value, catching fire and collapsing, they emit harmful radiation.


California firefighters actually fought for an ordinance exempting their stations from being used as base stations for installation due to health risks.



         



      

Scenic views as well as health and safety concerns led to this latest court decision.  Way to go, San Francisco!


From the San Francisco Chronicle:



San Francisco and other cities can protect their scenic views by prohibiting wireless telephone companies from installing antennas on utility poles, the state Supreme Court ruled Thursday.


The justices unanimously upheld a 2011 San Francisco ordinance requiring telecommunications companies to obtain a city permit before installing large antennas and related equipment on roadside poles.


The ordinance said permit applications would be reviewed more closely in certain scenic and historic areas.


“San Francisco is widely recognized to be one of the world’s most beautiful cities” the Board of Supervisors said at the time. The regulation, the board said, would prevent installations whose appearance or location would “diminish the city’s beauty.”


City officials have said companies apparently adjusted to the ordinance, generally seeking permits for installations that fit their surroundings.


As of 2018, the city had received 1,243 application for permits and denied only eight of them, John Coté, spokesman for City Attorney Dennis Herrera, said Thursday. He said many other cities in California also regulate wireless installations, some with aesthetic standards like San Francisco’s.






But the telecoms, led by T-Mobile, argued that the ordinance violates state law, which allows phone companies to install roadside equipment as long as it does not “incommode the public use of the road.”


The court, however, said the city has the authority to decide whether unsightly installations “incommode,” or disturb, the use of its streets.


“The power to regulate the location and manner of line installation is generally a matter left to local regulation,” Justice Carol Corrigan said in the 7-0 ruling, upholding lower-court decisions in the city’s favor.


[…]


She noted that phone lines or equipment might generate noise or raise health and safety concerns that could “disturb (the) quiet enjoyment” of a road. And she said a city’s power to regulate use of its land “includes the authority to establish aesthetic conditions for land use.”




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[…]


The court also rejected, as overly speculative, the companies’ argument that San Francisco’s restrictions would slow the development of advanced telecommunications. Herrera called the argument a “red herring” in a statement responding to the ruling.


[…]


The case is T-Mobile West vs. San Francisco, S238001.


For more information about this court decision, see 1, 2, 3.


For more information about biological and environmental risks associated with cell towers and antennas, visit the following websites:



Americans for Responsible Technology
Center For Safer Wireless
Center For Electrosmog Prevention
EMF Safety Network
Environmental Health Trust
My Street, My Choice
Our Town Our Choice
Physicians for Safe Technology
SaferEMR
TelecomPowerGrab.org
Wireless Information Network

Image credit: Pixabay


   
            


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