Archive | December 2011

Big Brother & Big Sis may be watching your Tweets or Facebook posts

In America’s brave new world, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has set up fake Twitter and Facebook accounts in order to catch a potential criminal.

They claim to be protecting the Internet by invading American’s privacy without warrants, for the sole purpose of catching the bad guys. Really?

DHS says they are now “protecting” Americans by programming a few sensitive hot-key words into their computer programs and then tracking those who are tweeting words they think fit a certain profile.

The DHS’s “watch” list could land Americans on a collision course with secret agents tracking their every move. In other words, DHS can insert government agents into the “average Joe’s” life without serving a warrant or providing any explanation.

A few “key” words DHS is concerned with include “diseases” or “bio weapons” or “human to animal” or “outbreak” and “illegal immigrant.” In fact, DHS has outlined plans to scan blogs, Twitter and Facebook, according to the Electronic Privacy Information Center.

EPIC claims a Freedom of Information Act requested in February for more details has gone unanswered.

It’s also been reported by some news agencies that DHS can program their computers in order to target certain words and phrases. If a match is triggered, the personal information may be recorded and open to further investigation by agency officials.

It remains unclear how DHS will use the information gathered without a warrant on the Internet blogosphere. EPIC points out that the government has used scans of social media before to analyze events, like the 2010 BP oil spill, but using “fake” profiles on social media is new.

“The initiatives were designed to gather information from online forums, blogs, public websites, and message boards. [They plan] to store and analyze the information gathered, and then disseminate relevant and appropriate de-identified information to federal, state, local, and foreign governments and private sector partners,” according to an EPIC court filing.

For more stories; http://www.examiner.com/county-political-buzz-in-san-diego/kimberly-dvorak

© Copyright 2011 Kimberly Dvorak All Rights Reserved.

France looks to ICE to combat transnational gangs

More than one million gang members call America home and with that namesake comes exploding prison populations. These gang members have adopted violent behavior similar to their Mexican cartel competitors.

In fact, transnational gangs are commonplace in 80 percent of American communities. As a result, law enforcement officers must now devote more resources to combat gang-related violence in order to provide safety in communities throughout the United States.

“Transnational gangs are a worldwide problem, not confined to any single country,” according to Mark Selby, unit chief for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations’ (HSI) National Gang Unit.

As America competes in a new global marketplace, ICE points to dozens of reports that indicate transnational gangs operate in a growing number of countries. France’s Gendarmerie Nationale, a leading law enforcement agency, face gang-related crime on a daily basis.

French gangs are typically affiliated with Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco. These gangs are trafficking narcotics and implementing violence as a way to resolve their issues.Just like America these gangs are territorial and fiercely control criminal activity in their neighborhoods.
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After listening to an ICE’s gang-related presentation at a EUROPOL meeting, Captain Benjamin Suzzoni of the Gendarmerie Nationale convinced his superiors to let him learn more about ICE’s strategy to combat transnational crime.

While the French shadowed the ICE HSI team, they learned about common gang practices and new strategies to combat transnational gangs. The French officers witnessed real-life scenarios while on a ride along with the Dallas Police Department’s Gang Unit.

“That evening, Gendarmerie Nationale personnel observed firsthand some ICE HSI strategies used to combat gangs, ranging from field interviews with known gang members to how agents utilize confidential informants.”

The French officers were impressed with the effectiveness of Operation Community Shield, a national gang enforcement initiative where ICE HSI partners with international, federal, state and local law enforcement agencies to combat gangs.

“We rely on all of our law enforcement partners. Without them, we wouldn’t be able to successfully conduct the targeted anti-gang enforcement actions or long-term criminal enterprise investigations that we do,” Selby said. “In the majority of cases, we know who we’re going to arrest before we arrest them. Information sharing and intelligence from the local police departments that work with us allow us to do this.”

The French officers said they would implement some of the tactics used by U.S. law enforcement in an effort to curb transnational gang activity in French communities.

Learn more about ICE’s efforts to combat transnational gangs.

For more stories; http://www.examiner.com/county-political-buzz-in-san-diego/kimberly-dvorak

© Copyright 2011 Kimberly Dvorak All Rights Reserved.

Calguns files a lawsuit against California DOJ.

The California Calguns Foundation has filed a federal lawsuit against the state’s Department of Justice as well as Attorney General Kamala Harris for implementing a policy forcing gun owners to wait 10 days before they can take possession of additional firearms.

The case is entitled Jeff Silvester et. al. vs. Kamala Harris, et. al and was filed in the District of California Federal District Court in Fresno.

The Calguns Foundation signed on to the lawsuit with the Second Amendment Foundation and three individual plaintiffs.

“The State has absolutely no reason to infringe the rights of California gun owners who already possess firearms when they buy another one,” said Jason Davis who is the attorney for the plaintiffs. “California currently requires the registration of handguns in California. And, beginning January 2014, it will also require the registration of all newly-purchased rifles and shotguns. Notably, California keeps a current database of all residents who are prohibited by state or federal law from owning or possessing firearms.”
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The plaintiffs, Jeff Silvester, Michael Poeschl, and Brandon Combs have firearms registered with the State of California. Combs and Silvester also have firearms licenses issued by the state that constitute continuous background checks. The plaintiffs argue that their law abiding background coupled with extensive background checks should remove them from the “cooling off” period.

“In just about every other state in the U.S., I as a law-abiding gun owner, could walk in and after passing an instant national background check, walk out with a firearm to defend myself in my home,” said Poeschl. “What’s really frustrating is that California is one of the few states that force gun owners to register all handguns that they buy. If the state’s database saying that I already lawfully own a gun isn’t proof that I don’t need a ‘cooling-off’ period, then what is?”

Currently, if Californians want to legally conceal carry a firearm they have to pass more stringent background checks. In most counties, residents have to provide detailed reasons in order to carry a weapon. Acceptable reasons include carrying large amounts of cash to banks or other businesses, bodily threats, or a member of the court system.

“I have a license to carry a loaded firearm across the state,” Silvester said. “It is ridiculous that I have to wait another 10 days to pick up a new firearm when I’m standing there in the gun store lawfully carrying one the whole time.”

The “cooling off” period also affects gun collectors.

“As a collector, I submitted to a Live Scan background check and obtained a Certificate of Eligibility to Possess Firearms from the State of California at my own expense,” said Brandon Combs. “In the Internet era, where every California gun dealer has a computer connected directly to the State’s databases, there is no logical reason to force me to wait 10 days and make another trip simply because California doesn’t want to acknowledge the Certificate that it issued to me. I have registered guns, and I have the State telling me that I can possess guns, but for some reason I can’t exercise my constitutionally protected rights for another ten days? That’s insane.”

Currently California enforces some of the nation’s toughest gun laws and has banned numerous weapons that can be purchased legally in other states.

“This lawsuit seeks to prevent the infringement of gun owners’ rights and requests the 10 day ban on possessing firearms purchased not be applied to current gun owners who pass instant background checks,” Davis concluded.

A copy of the complaint and case filings can be downloaded at http://calgunsfoundation.org/resources/downloads/category/20-silvester-v-harris.html

For more stories; http://www.examiner.com/county-political-buzz-in-san-diego/kimberly-dvorak

© Copyright 2011 Kimberly Dvorak All Rights Reserved.

Mexican Army arrests "El Chapo’s" top security advisor- a blow to cartel

Mexican authorities said they captured the world’s most wanted man, Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman’s, chief security advisor on Christmas.

President Felipe Calderon hasn’t released a statement on the high-profile arrest, but Mexican Army officials said the cartel security point man was apprehended in the Sinaloa city of Cuiliacan, but declined to disclose the cartel henchman’s name.

Mexican officials speculate the high-profile apprehension could lead to the arrest of “El Chapo” and will extensively interrogate the Sinaloa security advisor this week.

The Sinaloa cartel has suffered a string of U.S. drug distribution arrests as U.S. law enforcement officers confiscated drugs, money and weapons.

The Mexican war on drugs continues to accelerate despite hundreds of arrests and murders surging past 40,000 in the five-year fight. U.S. experts point to the lucrative drug business that grosses $25-35 billion every year. Advisors also contend that the U.S. is the largest consumer of illegal drugs and supports the drug trade south of the border.

American drug consumption has attributed to “El Chapo’s” wealth. In fact, Forbes magazine said, “El Chapo” is one of the wealthiest people on the planet. The magazine also designated “El Chapo” as one of the “World’s Most Powerful People.”

For more stories; http://www.examiner.com/county-political-buzz-in-san-diego/kimberly-dvorak

© Copyright 2011 Kimberly Dvorak All Rights Reserved.

Alabama’s tough new illegal immigration law cuts state unemployment

Alabama recently made national news when it passed a strict new illegal immigration law, in fact, the federal government filed a lawsuit against the southern state.

However, a funny thing happened in Alabama, their unemployment rate fell more than a half of a percent last month. State officials suggest the tough new illegal immigration law led to illegals leaving the state and prompted local businesses to hire American citizens and legal immigrants to alleviate unemployment levels.

Alabama’s unemployment rate was 9.3 percent in October and dropped by 0.6 percent or 8.7 percent in November.

“The continued drop is proof that people — American Citizens [and] legal migrants, have suffered at the hands of politicians who choose politics over economics,” said Chuck Ellis, a council member in Northern Alabama’s Marshall County told the Daily Caller.

“What’s amazing is that in Marshall County, a county of 95,000 residents, 30,000 workforce eligible there are over 600 people who now have jobs that they didn’t have six months ago.”

Under Attorney General Eric Holder’s supervision, a Department of Justice (DOJ) representative from the civil-regulation department Tom Perez, has been making plenty of trips to Alabama to encourage disenchanted illegals to file discrimination claims.

The Obama Administration continues their crack down of new state illegal immigration laws in order to keep a 2008 campaign promise to Hispanic lobbies. However, a multitude of issues with the president’s centerpiece legislation, health care overhaul, took more political capital than anticipated.

Plus a historic mid-term election saw Democrats lose control in the House, leaving Hispanics out in the cold as Republicans had no desire to reform immigration legislation.

As a result, Hispanic lobbies urged the Obama Administration to sue New Mexico, South Carolina, Georgia and Arizona.

Just last week, DOJ’s Perez released the results of a years-long investigation into Maricopa County’s Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

The scathing report insinuated the Arizona Sheriff, known for his tough stance on illegal immigration, was targeting Latinos. Perez went on to say the DOJ would no longer assist Arizona with the enforcement of federal illegal immigration laws.

Sheriff Joe, as he is known to those in Arizona, quickly responded to the Justice Department and said, “We’re going to fight back, we’re going to show the politics involved.”

Many anti-illegal immigration activists point to the facts when it comes to enforcing the laws already on the books. “It’s illegal to hire someone without proper paperwork,” Anita Johnson said. “There are too many Americans looking for work and it’s up to businesses to step up and recognize they need to follow the law.”

Alabama is a perfect example of how enforcement helps Americans. “Just think what the unemployment numbers would be if all states followed Alabama’s example,” Johnson said.

Another voice in the illegal immigration debate is NumbersUSA Director Roy Beck and he had this to say, “The chief difficulties that America faces because of current immigration are not triggered by who the immigrants are but by how many there are. The task before the nation in setting a fair level of immigration is not about race or some vision of homogeneous white America; it is about protecting and enhancing the United States’ unique experiment in democracy for all Americans, including recent immigrants, regardless of their particular ethnicity.”

As the 2012 election cycle builds momentum, the illegal immigration dilemma will certainly play a key role in who Americans send to Washington DC.

For more stories; http://www.examiner.com/county-political-buzz-in-san-diego/kimberly-dvorak

© Copyright 2011 Kimberly Dvorak All Rights Reserved.

Alabama’s tough new illegal immigration law cuts state unemployment

Alabama recently made national news when it passed a strict new illegal immigration law, in fact, the federal government filed a lawsuit against the southern state.

However, a funny thing happened in Alabama, their unemployment rate fell more than a half of a percent last month. State officials suggest the tough new illegal immigration law led to illegals leaving the state and prompted local businesses to hire American citizens and legal immigrants to alleviate unemployment levels.

Alabama’s unemployment rate was 9.3 percent in October and dropped by 0.6 percent or 8.7 percent in November.

“The continued drop is proof that people — American Citizens [and] legal migrants, have suffered at the hands of politicians who choose politics over economics,” said Chuck Ellis, a council member in Northern Alabama’s Marshall County told the Daily Caller.

“What’s amazing is that in Marshall County, a county of 95,000 residents, 30,000 workforce eligible there are over 600 people who now have jobs that they didn’t have six months ago.”

Under Attorney General Eric Holder’s supervision, a Department of Justice (DOJ) representative from the civil-regulation department Tom Perez, has been making plenty of trips to Alabama to encourage disenchanted illegals to file discrimination claims.

The Obama Administration continues their crack down of new state illegal immigration laws in order to keep a 2008 campaign promise to Hispanic lobbies. However, a multitude of issues with the president’s centerpiece legislation, health care overhaul, took more political capital than anticipated.

Plus a historic mid-term election saw Democrats lose control in the House, leaving Hispanics out in the cold as Republicans had no desire to reform immigration legislation.

As a result, Hispanic lobbies urged the Obama Administration to sue New Mexico, South Carolina, Georgia and Arizona.

Just last week, DOJ’s Perez released the results of a years-long investigation into Maricopa County’s Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

The scathing report insinuated the Arizona Sheriff, known for his tough stance on illegal immigration, was targeting Latinos. Perez went on to say the DOJ would no longer assist Arizona with the enforcement of federal illegal immigration laws.

Sheriff Joe, as he is known to those in Arizona, quickly responded to the Justice Department and said, “We’re going to fight back, we’re going to show the politics involved.”

Many anti-illegal immigration activists point to the facts when it comes to enforcing the laws already on the books. “It’s illegal to hire someone without proper paperwork,” Anita Johnson said. “There are too many Americans looking for work and it’s up to businesses to step up and recognize they need to follow the law.”

Alabama is a perfect example of how enforcement helps Americans. “Just think what the unemployment numbers would be if all states followed Alabama’s example,” Johnson said.

Another voice in the illegal immigration debate is NumbersUSA Director Roy Beck and he had this to say, “The chief difficulties that America faces because of current immigration are not triggered by who the immigrants are but by how many there are. The task before the nation in setting a fair level of immigration is not about race or some vision of homogeneous white America; it is about protecting and enhancing the United States’ unique experiment in democracy for all Americans, including recent immigrants, regardless of their particular ethnicity.”

As the 2012 election cycle builds momentum, the illegal immigration dilemma will certainly play a key role in who Americans send to Washington DC.

For more stories; http://www.examiner.com/county-political-buzz-in-san-diego/kimberly-dvorak

© Copyright 2011 Kimberly Dvorak All Rights Reserved.

Fast and Furious claimed its first victim, Agent Terry, one year ago

It was just a year ago that ill-fated “Fast and Furious” gunwalking scheme claimed its first American victim- Border Patrol Agent Brian A. Terry.

Terry left southern Arizona station evening muster never knowing it would be his last. As he and his fellow Border Patrol agents prepared to hike into Peck Canyon, the only thing on their minds was to apprehend a “rip crew” responsible for robbing and terrorizing illegal immigrants passing through the desert seeking a better life in America.

However, new Department of Homeland Security (DHS) memos had recently been given to all Border Patrol agents asking them to use less-than-deadly force, Terry complied and packed his gun that dispensed bean bag rounds.

As it turns out, Terry paid attention to the memos, and it cost him his life. During the December 2010 shootout in Peck Canyon, “rip crew” thugs fired AK-47 weapons indiscriminately in the dark desert night and killed the former Marine. He never had a chance.

Once the dust settled and help arrived, Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was dead. He would not be home for Christmas.

Border Patrol agents eventually discovered a misguided Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearm (ATF) “Fast and Furious” investigation gun killed their colleague.

For nearly a year “Fast and Furious” has garnered headlines, but to this day nobody has been held accountable for letting thousands of guns “walk” into the willing hands of vicious Mexican cartel members. The Department of Justice (DOJ) investigation has yielded little punishment for ATF and DOJ management personnel who authorized a program aimed at uncovering cartel gun trafficking patterns and gain splashy headlines.

However, it would take weeks, and several ATF whistleblowers to uncover the truth behind Agent Terry’s murder. It was a poorly executed ATF investigation, Fast and Furious, that put the U.S. government in the gun trafficking business and as it turns out Agent Terry would only be the first in a long list of people killed by guns once under the control of lawful gun dealers and watchful ATF officials.

A year later, countless inquiries by Congress have resulted in ATF and DOJ stonewalling. Documents and emails requested by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) and Senator Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) have been heavily redacted and exacted little transparency from the Obama Administration.

The Terry family still doesn’t know who was responsible for the murder of their son. Officials in charge of ATF and DOJ have sealed records and hide behind the “ongoing” investigation excuse as reasons for their secrecy.

It looks as though the government is doing what they do best- covering up a deadly program.

Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry died a year ago today. He died defending a nation he believed in, and he died from a Fast and Furious gun.

For more stories; http://www.examiner.com/county-political-buzz-in-san-diego/kimberly-dvorak

© Copyright 2011 Kimberly Dvorak All Rights Reserved.

New study says Californian’s are on the hook for $500 billion in pension funds

California is broke, really broke. The governor has called for billion dollar budgetary cuts ahead of the New Year as revenues to Sacramento coffers were much lower than predicted. According to a new Stanford University report, the Golden States’ three largest public unions, the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS), California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS), and the University of California Retirement Plan (UCRP) have been promised $500 billion in pension funds.

The Stanford report concludes these union contracts promised public sector employees more than the state can afford.

The report outlines that public employee pension systems usually strive for 100 percent funding over the long term. However, these pension programs promised much more than they can deliver. Meaning, the taxpayer is on the hook for the difference.

“The combined unfunded liability for CalPERS, CalSTRS, and UCRP under the 6.2 percent discount rate is $290.6 billion, equal to more than three state General Fund budgets,” the report disclosed. “That figure represents an unfunded amount per household of nearly $24,000. Using a low-risk, or risk-free, discount rate, the combined unfunded liability for these three systems reaches $497.9 billion, or 17 percent more than that calculated in 2010.”

Stanford economic forecasters warn that state contributions to pension accounts made by the taxpayers will increase substantially over the next few years.

“Assuming a 6.2 percent discount rate and other minor demographic changes, current state spending on pensions is likely to increase from $4.8 billion in 2011-2012 to $14.6 billion, or the equivalent of 17.3 percent of current General Fund expenditures,” the report points out. The increased spending on pensions will eventually cut into other state non-pension spending, like education and social services.

The Stanford University pension report also explains that California state legislators need to act urgently. They contend each day that passes will cost Californians’ $3.4 million per day.

Possible solutions to the pension crisis include tax increases or reforms to the public employee pension contracts. “Revenue increases are unlikely to be approved absent pension reforms. Required pension system reforms include benefit reductions, such as prospective reductions for current employees, greater cost sharing, and governance reforms, particularly changes in the pension system accounting methods and assumptions,” the report concluded.

The report also took a look at Governor Jerry Brown’s suggestions to solve the impending pension shortfall, but only found minor positive elements. “Governor Brown’s proposal provides only modest additional cost savings. For example, Governor Brown’s proposal appears likely to reduce CalPERS state spending by more than $300 million in the first year and $6.2 billion over 10 years. At a 6.2 percent discount rate, the state’s combined annual shortfall for both CalPERS and CalSTRS is about $100 billion over the same period.”

It is necessary to note that California faces the largest budget deficit crisis in the nation. Many states like Illinois and New Jersey will keep a close eye on the Golden State and evaluate how California handles its public sector union pension shortfalls.

To read the entire report; http://siepr.stanford.edu/system/files/shared/Nation%20Statewide%20Report%20v081.pdf

For more stories; http://www.examiner.com/county-political-buzz-in-san-diego/kimberly-dvorak

© Copyright 2011 Kimberly Dvorak All Rights Reserved.

Obama Administration discusses Islamic religion free speech behind closed doors

In an effort to clarify America’s free-speech policy regarding the Islamic religion, the Obama Administration held a multi-nation, closed-door meeting to discuss religious speech.

The conference attendees hope to appease Muslim nations by asking Americans to tone down their anti-Islamic religion rhetoric which the Administration claims may be the cause of unrest in the Middle East.

“We know that some people distort various religious doctrines to justify intolerance, foment violence or create strife that serves their narrow political purposes,” said Suzan Johnson Cook, U.S. ambassador at large for international religious freedom. Johnson explained that offensive (religious) dialogue should be denounced, while “religion must never be used as an excuse to stifle freedom of expression.”

The Islamic countries that attended the closed-to-media conference cite recent cartoons that mocked the prophet Muhammad and Florida preacher Terry Jones, who publically burns the Koran, as offensive and a reason for Americans to restrain their free speech rights’.

The Obama Administration hopes to broker a “middle ground” on this issue and invited nine European, nine Muslim as well as a few Latin American countries to participate in the three-day conference.

However, critics say the Administration is only pandering to the Middle East and point out that America already has a Constitution in place that sets clear free-speech parameters.

“Why is it that the U.S. Constitution must come second when representatives from Islamic counties such as Saudi Arabia and Pakistan demand we must curb our religious liberties and free speech?” Andrea Lafferty, president of the Traditional Values Coalition asked. “Why is our government bending to Taliban values here on the home front?”

Officials contend the closed-door conference is an opportunity to resolve issues that are sensitive to Islamic nations.

For more stories; http://www.examiner.com/county-political-buzz-in-san-diego/kimberly-dvorak

© Copyright 2011 Kimberly Dvorak All Rights Reserved.

The holiday season doesn’t slow Mexican cartels from smuggling illicit drugs

It may be the Yuletide season, but that hasn’t stopped drug smugglers from wanting to earn some extra Christmas cash. This week in San Diego, Border Patrol agents played Grinch and snatched nearly $700,000 worth of cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine.

Yesterday, Border Patrol agents, patrolling along Interstate 15 stopped a 28-year-old male U.S. citizen driving a pickup truck. After the stop, agents called a Border Patrol K-9 team to conduct a cursory inspection of the vehicle. The K-9 positively alerted agents to the interior of the truck where agents discovered five bundles of methamphetamine in a black trash bag. “The total weight of the meth was 12.02 pounds and worth an estimated $240,400,” according to Border Patrol Agent Scott Simon.

In a separate bust, Border Patrol agents at the Interstate 8 checkpoint just east of San Diego, arrested a 23-year-old male Mexican national for smuggling 3.53 pounds of heroin worth $45,890 in the soles of two pairs of dress shoes.

“Agents encountered the individual while performing an immigration inspection of a commercial bus travelling to San Diego,” Scott said. “During inspection, agents became suspicious of the man’s nervous demeanor and referred him for a secondary inspection. A Border Patrol K-9 team alerted to the man’s luggage, where agents discovered packages of heroin hidden inside of a pair of brown shoes. Agents also located similar packages inside of a pair of black shoes the man was wearing.”

At the same I-8 checkpoint, Border Patrol detained a 39-year-old male U.S. citizen for attempting to smuggle 39.68 pounds of cocaine. The nervous driver was sent to secondary inspection, where a K-9 team led agents to the gas tank. Inside the tank, Border Patrol found 15 bundles of cocaine worth an estimated street value of $396,800.

All the suspected smugglers and $683,000 worth of narcotics were turned over to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and two pickup trucks were seized by the U.S. Border Patrol.

For more stories; http://www.examiner.com/county-political-buzz-in-san-diego/kimberly-dvorak

© Copyright 2011 Kimberly Dvorak All Rights Reserved.

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