Archive | February 2012

Real ID – secure driver’s licenses edging closer to reality new study shows

Despite the Obama Administration’s lagging demeanor, the implementation of the REAL ID Act of 2005 is gaining momentum. The Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) just released its second comprehensive assessment for securing driver’s license standards and ensuring REAL ID becomes a reality in all 50 states.

The report concludes, by January 2013, at least 36 states will be in full compliance of REAL ID. So far, the remaining states have not announced when they would be in compliance with REAL ID.

“While the Department of Homeland Security lets REAL ID languish with a looming compliance deadline of Jan. 15, 2013, the states are pushing on with securing driver license issuance standards not because the feds or Congress seems to give a hoot, but because they realize that the DMV counter can be a defense against identity theft and fraud, the kind that terrorists, illegal aliens and criminals use to switch their identities to that of an unsuspecting American,” said Janice Kephart, a former 9/11 Commission counsel and National Security Policy Director at CIS.

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“REAL ID is becoming a success because of the benefits it provides to protecting identity, catching fraud, improving customer service and supporting law enforcement. The law, despite the browbeating it has taken for years, is becoming a reality. But without DHS stepping up to the plate to support the states, and Congress ignoring next year’s deadline, the states will only feel a greater divide between themselves and Washington as political campaigns heat up this year– an issue already exacerbated by an administration willing to sue any state whose policies or laws it disagrees with,” she said.

The data compiled in this report notes that states see a real value in pursuing REAL ID standards because the improvements reduce identity theft and fraud, increase efficiencies, improve customer service, and support law enforcement. As a result, CIS found states are moving forward and paying for the improvements with their state tax dollars.

Specifics contained in this report include; overall compliance, 53 states and territories are embracing REAL ID or the technical tenets of REAL ID; 5 states have submitted REAL ID compliance packages to DHS with a total of 36 materially or substantially materially compliant now or likely will be by the REAL ID deadline of January 15, 2013. 


At least 43 jurisdictions are issuing tamper-resistant cards; 
51 are checking Social Security numbers and the remaining five are currently getting online; 47 are registered with DHS to check legal presence through the SAVE database.

Kephart also pointed out that the states contacted for the CIS study said they no longer have guidance or support from DHS when it comes to implementing REAL ID Act.

However, a recent trip to the border by DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano highlighted the positive trends undertaken by DHS to shore up national security along the nation’s borders.

“The men and women of CBP work hard every day to keep our borders safe while facilitating the trade and travel that are so essential to the economy of the Southwest region and the United States,” she said. “This administration has deployed unprecedented resources along the Southwest border and we continue to work closely with our partners at all levels—including other federal agencies, state, local, tribal and territorial law enforcement, the private sector, and the government of Mexico—to secure our border.”

With the political climate heating up for the 2012 elections, the REAL ID legislation will certainly find a place on the national landscape.

For more stories; http://www.examiner.com/homeland-security-in-national/kimberly-dvorak

© Copyright 2012 Kimberly Dvorak All Rights Reserve

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California’s proposed tax hike will destroy 23,000 jobs

California Governor Jerry Brown said he would use a proposed sales tax increase as the vehicle to get the Golden State out of its growing deficit problems. That solution has met with a great deal of criticism from the State Board of Equalization.

George Runner said the Governor’s plan to increase taxes on working Californians is not the answer. His office released an analysis proving the half-cent sales tax increase will cost California thousands of jobs and millions of dollars in lost investment.

This isn’t the first time California lawmakers have tried to solve Sacramento’s spending problems with tax increases. However, the growing state deficit poses serious hurdles for Californians to consider.

“We project a $10 billion operating shortfall (the difference between annual revenues and expenditures) in 2012-13. The $3 billion “carry-in” deficit from 2011-12 and the projected $10 billion operating shortfall mean that the Legislature and the Governor will need to address a $13 billion budget problem between now and the time that the state adopts a 2012-13 budget plan,” according to California’s Legislative Analyst Office.

“Tax policy has consequences,” Runner explained. “As this analysis shows, a higher sales tax rate would take money out of the pockets of working Californians, destroying more than 23,000 jobs and $267 million in business investment. The projected job losses would be equivalent to every worker in a medium-sized California city like Glendora or West Sacramento losing their jobs.”

A stubborn economy and lagging unemployment numbers have led to weary taxpayers. In the past few years, Californians have voted down proposed tax increases by large margins.

Runner explains that lawmakers often rely on static analyses that ignore behavioral changes by consumers and business owners when they set out to increase taxes.

The analysis, conducted by the State Board of Equalization, projects that nearly all of the proposed sales tax increase would be passed along to consumers. “The state would receive $222 million less in revenues than projected by a static analysis, an 8% loss in potential revenue,” Runner said.

Add to that the argument from taxpayer advocacy groups who contend spending has increased during this recession.

“It is a common myth that state spending has been slashed in recent years. While it is true that General Fund spending is down as a result of the recession, overall state spending is actually up sharply, growing by more than $19 billion over the last four years,” according to the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association.

Runner finished by adding that; “Since July of last year, lower tax rates have enabled Californians to keep more of their hard-earned dollars, and our economy is growing stronger. Let’s not rewind our progress by reinstating, even a portion, of the tax burden Californians endured during the Great Recession.”

The full analysis can be found online at; http://www.boe.ca.gov/Runner/info/pdf/Dynamic_Revenue.pdf.

For more stories; http://www.examiner.com/homeland-security-in-national/kimberly-dvorak

© Copyright 2012 Kimberly Dvorak All Rights Reserved

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Unwitting airline passengers robbed of their Second Amendment rights’ in NYC

The legality of owning firearms resides firmly in the founding fathers’ crafting of the Second Amendment, but a patchwork of state and municipal gun laws threaten to undermine a citizen’s right to keep and bear arms.

Nowhere is the assault on the Second Amendment more evident than in New York City where unsuspecting airline passengers are winding-up in jail after running afoul of Mayor Bloomberg’s interpretation of the Second Amendment. The NY mayor’s dislike of firearms is well known, and he even formed an “anti-gun” taskforce. The three-term Mayor even tried to peddle his anti-gun program to Arizona, after a psychologically unstable person shot Rep. Gabriel Gifford’s. Perhaps, most recently readers may remember Bloomberg’s anti-gun commercial that aired during this years’ Super Bowl.

Bloomberg’s law or tourist trap, recently ensnared Mark Meckler, Tea Party co-founder, who was arrested at LaGuardia airport along with another 700 hundred other airline passengers over the last few years. Meckler informed the ticket agent of his locked-up firearm (as required by federal law) and was promptly arrested by Port Authority officers and charged with felony gun possession and thrown in jail. This revenue generating scam works flawlessly at New York’s LaGuardia airport.

Sounds reasonable, right?

This reporter investigated the guidelines from TSA and the airlines for transporting firearms. An American Airline employee described the outbound (LaGuardia) procedure for transporting a firearm commenced with a call to TSA to confirm the legality of the passenger’s firearm paperwork; TSA would ensure the firearm was locked in a hard case with no ammunition in the chamber; and finally TSA inspectors would store the firearm in the owner’s checked luggage in a TSA-approved, locked firearm case, and it’s off to New York.

This reporter decided to take it a step further and asked what the procedure would be for boarding the plane on the return flight back to sunny California. The agent replied, “The exact same process would be implemented at LaGuardia Airport.”

This due diligence concurred with the instructions at the TSA and airline websites.

Knowing LaGuardia was the destination, the agent did not mention “you had better checkout New York law, otherwise you risk losing your gun, being placed under arrest at the ticket counter, and thrown into jail, which, in addition to spending a few days in jail, will cost you thousands of dollars in penalties, legal fees, fines and additional travel expenses.

The “special treatment” New York City imposes on in-transit visitors legally carrying a firearm sparked a number of questions.

Phone call number two went to the New York Port Authority Police Department querying why the Port Authority Police get the first call when a passenger attempts to check in at the airline ticket counter? Other airports follow TSA rules and guidelines under the interstate firearm transportation section (18 USC §926A Interstate Transportation of Firearms), which stipulates that it is perfectly legal to travel by air with a firearm, as long as the passenger can lawfully possess a firearm at their FINAL destination.

A follow-up call to the San Diego Port Authority confirmed they had nothing to do with checking firearms for airlines. In fact, they said, “We are only called when TSA finds a firearm that is either undeclared or stored improperly.”

So why is the process of transporting a firearm not followed in New York? A New York Port Authority spokesperson explained that officers follow the protocol set by the NYC District Attorney.

“In New York City, it is illegal to possess a firearm at any time, unless there is special permission given by the city authorities,” said Al Della Fave of the Port Authority.

There it is, NYC officials claim to have worked-out an “arrangement” with TSA, the airlines and the Port Authority. They will relieve lawful gun owners of their Second Amendment right when they attempt to leave the city. (Of course their firearm is already in a locked TSA-approved and inspected case.)

New York’s draconian handgun laws take it a step further by granting the courts or police departments the power to confiscate an air traveler’s firearm, and perhaps more alarming, is the fact that law enforcement can and does destroy the weapon.

As it turns out New York City is a gun-free zone! Only permission granted by Mayor Bloomberg’s office can waive the strict firearms prohibition. This is something hundreds of travelers to or through New York City have learned the hard way. Many of these unfortunate gun owners have traveled through hundreds of airports declaring their weapons without arrest, but in New York City, they are arrested, charged with several felonies and thrown in the clink. The tab for the incarceration exceeds thousands of dollars.

However, if New York is truly interested in strict adherence to the city’s handgun law, why aren’t they arresting passengers lawfully carrying their firearm when they collect their luggage and try to leave the airport? TSA keeps a record on file alerting airline personnel to the fact a firearm is stored in checked luggage.

Neither the Port Authority Police nor District Attorney spokespeople could answer that question.

A career choice landed this guy in jail

There are plenty of careers that require possession of a firearm. Providing private security for high-profile clients is one such career.

Take Kain Guercci for example, he is the director of operations for Talon Executive Services, a company that provides security details for a wide variety of high-profile clients.

Like hundreds of other law abiding travelers, Guercci passed through New York’s LaGuardia airport without staying in the city, but declared his firearm at the ticket counter as he has done hundreds of times in the past. However, this time the airline ticket agent notified the Port Authority Police, instead of TSA, and Guercci spent 72 hours behind bars.

Guercci knew the strict New York rules and traveled via taxi to LaGuardia airport from Connecticut. He thought he was following the in-transit law. “There is no asterisk or notation that the (TSA) rules apply everywhere except New York City, where I did not spend the night,” he explained.

Thinking this was just a misunderstanding, “I called my boss, a former and well-respected Secret Service agent, who explained it must have been a mistake, sit tight, and I’d be out soon,” Guercci said.

His three-day nightmare included jail time with criminals who were arrested during a nighttime drug sweep. A visit by Secret Service associates of his boss to clear the “confusion” further fueled the preverbal fire when Guercci’s Queen’s jailers took cash from his wallet and handed it to him in front of his felony-drug dealer cellmates. “Let’s just say I had to use my survival skills to protect myself from those criminals.”

Authorities wasted no time and charged Guercci with a class C violent felony, which carries a 3 1/2 to 15 years sentence, ensuring jail time.

Guercci said his three-day stint behind bars left him “shocked and utterly dismayed” with the New York legal entanglement. “I’ve never been arrested before.” After Guercci made it back to California, he was forced to notify the Orange County Sheriff of the incident and had his conceal carry permit temporarily revoked. “Luckily, I’m in good standing with the Sheriff and he was sympathetic to my New York ordeal.”

Fortunately, Guercci’s boss paid the considerable legal expenses and his conceal carry firearm permit was returned once all the court appearances and fines were paid. Guercci refers to the 72-hour ordeal as contrived and believes the New York firearm anomaly is “some sort of money-making racket for the New York’s law enforcement community.”

Criminal-defense lawyer Martin D. Kane points out on Lawyers.com; “What New York does is not helping matters. It’s pretty unreasonable, and it’s great fuel.” He goes on to explain that attorneys should not try to ‘defend’ these cases.

Kane said the specific law is clear and there is no room for negotiation (18 USC §926A Interstate Transportation of Firearms.

“The mistake some defendants and defense lawyers make is in fighting the charge and taking it to the point of indictment—and once they’re indicted, it’s impossible to workout a type of disposition that will have no consequence.” Kane concludes that it’s best to take a plea deal, pay the legal fees and fines, and never bring another firearm to New York.

While that may be sage advice, it has left many lawful gun owners tarnished as well as angry. Some legal experts suggest New York could face a legal entanglement of their own, by those who were wrongly arrested and their firearms destroyed.

The New York City’s DA declined to comment on cases involving Port Authority Police and lawful gun owners transporting firearms.

**Breaking–Stay tuned; Former White House party crasher, Michaele Salahi’s bodyguard, Richard Surrency, was nabbed at LaGuardia airport yesterday for possession of a firearm that was locked and stored in checked in luggage. According to TMZ.com, Surrency had a permit to lawfully carry a firearm when he was ensnared in Mayor Bloomberg’s anti-Second Amendment airport zone.

For more stories; http://www.examiner.com/homeland-security-in-national/kimberly-dvorak

© Copyright 2012 Kimberly Dvorak All Rights Reserved

NYPD frisks, searches and violates civil liberties daily

A troubling new trend has taken hold in New York City; frisking, searching and scanning takes place on a daily basis by the New York Police Department.

Reports made by the New York Civil Liberties Union concluded that 684,330 people in the city were searched by police officers in 2011. The NYCLU says this is 603 percent increase since the troubled stop-and frisk program started in 2002 under the Bloomberg Administration.

The civil liberties union points out that nine out of 10 of the searches result in innocent people being hassled by the police and do not result in a ticket or summons. A report conducted by the NYCLU determined that those frisked, 87 percent were black or Latino.

“Last year alone, the NYPD stopped enough totally innocent New Yorkers to fill Madison Square Garden more than 30 times over,” said NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman. “It is not a crime to walk down the street in New York City, yet every day innocent black and brown New Yorkers are turned into suspects for doing just that. It is a stunning abuse of power that undermines trust between police and the community.”

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“These numbers make clear that illegal stops-and-frisks have become an epidemic in New York City,” according to Darius Charney, senior staff attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights, which is currently litigating Floyd v. City of New York, a federal class action lawsuit challenging the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk practices. “And the only antidote is meaningful, independent oversight of the Department.”The NYCLU contends, that under Mayor Bloomberg, the NYPD targets specific minorities groups for random searches daily.

“I have been stopped, questioned and frisked four times,” said Joseph Midgley, with a picture the Homeless civil rights leader. “Each time I was standing in a public place, committing no crime. Each time, I was asked for an ID, my pockets were searched and I was asked if I had anything illegal on me, which I did not. Each time, the police found nothing illegal, and I was not charged, nor given a ticket. Now that I am homeless, the police harassment has only gotten worse.”

According to the NYCLU’s analysis of NYPD stop-and-frisk statistics, four out of the five precincts with the highest frisks are located in predominantly black or Latino communities. The white or Asian communities have a much lower stop and frisk incident rate.

The dramatic increase in officer frisking has met with considerable anger within New York City. “These new numbers about the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk policy confirm that the program has not met its objectives and sparks distrust of law enforcement in communities of color,” said Manhattan Borough President Scott M. Stringer. “If the goal is to get guns off the street, the program’s failure to find guns in 99.9 percent of all cases speaks for itself. If the goal is to make arrests, the lack of an arrest in 94 percent of all cases is equally troubling. Last year nearly 700,000 stops were conducted, the most ever, and 85 percent of those were black or Latino (race) New Yorkers. It’s time for us to work with communities to get guns off the street, not against them. The NYPD can’t hope to build bridges if it keeps burning them.”

While the NYPD’s new frisking policy may be legal, it has met with strong disapproval from the city council.

“It has become an unacceptable policing policy,” said New York City Council Member Jumaane Williams. “It interferes with the good work displayed by many of the department’s officers and puts innocent New Yorkers at risk.”

Mobile scanning on the horizon

Just as controversial as the NYPD’s random frisking policy is the new portable device that is mounted on police vehicles that can detect any weapons or explosive devices anyone may be carrying as they walk down the sidewalk.

Experts describe the high-tech gadget will use infrared rays to scan a metal form, similar to radiation, and alert law enforcement to anyone carrying a concealed weapon.

“If something is obstructing the flow of that radiation — for example, a weapon — the device will highlight that object,” NYPD Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly said at the Police Foundation’s State of the NYPD breakfast, according to the New York Times. “This technology has shown a great deal of promise as a way of detecting weapons without a physical search.”

The move to develop high-tech gadgetry is a sign of the times. Large metropolitan cities throughout the U.S. are arming their police departments with more military-like weaponry, in an effort to fight all forms of terrorism or citizen uprisings.

The NYPD spokesperson, Paul Browne, said the portable scanner, currently under development with the Pentagon, will have the ability to allow officers 80 feet away in their squad car see any potential hidden weapons.

However, the new technology isn’t without its critics. Many legal experts say there is a real privacy issued being violated as the portable scanners show the outline of a person’s body, similar to the airport scanners already operational.

Also, when citizens travel to the airport and pass through security, they presumably give up their right to privacy to clear a security checkpoint. The same would not be the case for those casually walking down the sidewalk in NYC to grab some food or get some exercise.

For more stories; http://www.examiner.com/homeland-security-in-national/kimberly-dvorak

© Copyright 2012 Kimberly Dvorak All Rights Reserved.

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It’s been a year since ICE Agent Zapata has been killed-RIP

It’s been a year since Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Agent Jamie Zapata was killed in Mexico. This somber day is a reminder that Mexico remains a dangerous country for American law enforcement officers who serve south of the border.

The heavily armed-drug cartels continue to operate freely in Mexico, while U.S. agents are still forced to investigate cartel activity without any firearms- in other words, it’s business as usual.

One year ago Special Agent Zapata was traveling along a major highway in Mexico when his suburban was boxed-in by alleged cartel members, forced to the median where he lowered his window slightly to identify himself as an ICE agent, and was ultimately killed when the cartel opened fire leaving behind some 90 rounds of AK-47 bullets.

Several alleged killers have been arrested, and one, Julian Zapata Espinoza aka “Piolin” or “Tweety,” has been extradited to the U.S. to face murder charges.

While “Tweety” awaits trial, ICE headquarters released a statement regarding Agent Zapata’s death. The agency explained the loss has touched all who knew Mr. Zapata, but they also wanted to remember how courageous and honorable he was.

It’s widely believed by agents and law enforcement agencies that Zapata was killed with a gun from the botched ATF Fast and Furious program. Mexican officials have already confirmed the gunwalking operation has killed hundreds of Mexican nationals, but the U.S. hasn’t said a Fast and Furious gun killed Zapata.

“He was the type of person who wanted to contribute something significant to this world,” said ICE Director John Morton.

ICE headquarters said Zapata joined the agency in 2006 and was assigned to the Deputy Assistant HSI office in Laredo, Texas, where he served on the Human Smuggling and Trafficking Unit, as well as the Border Enforcement Security Task Force.

“He was detailed to ICE’s attaché office at the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City at the time of the tragedy. By extending his service across the border, SA Zapata put his life on the line to keep this country safe,” a statement read. “Having lived and worked along the Southwest border, Zapata was familiar with the challenges of being a law enforcement officer in that area.”

The ultimate sacrifice Agent Zapata made for America has not been forgotten. During National Police Week in May 2011, ICE honored SA Zapata’s life and legacy with a plaque on the ICE Wall of Honor.

His hometown in Texas also honored Zapata in April 2011, when they renamed a street after him. “This street, close to his parents’ home, was named Jamie J. Zapata Avenue. Zapata’s family was the first to drive on it.”

ICE also said other memorials for Zapata include a criminal justice training facility named after him at Kaplan College in McAllen, Texas; a resolution passed in the Texas Senate in his honor; and federal law enforcement legislation sponsored in his name.

Director Morton said he would be spending the day with Zapata’s family in Texas.

“No one will ever be able to replace Jaime,” said Morton. “He lives on in all of us. He inspired each of us on a personal level to be the best we can be – as a son or daughter, brother or sister, a public servant, or any other role.”

Among those who are remembering Agent Zapata are the retired Border Patrol Agents at NAFBPO. “As a retired Border Patrol Agent, I pray there is justice for both Jaime Zapata and Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry, both killed because of Fast and Furious. Those responsible must be held accountable. Honor First,” Alan Ferguson of NAFBPO concluded.

While it is right to honor the fallen ICE agent, one must wonder why the same treatment has not found its way to murdered Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry, who died after a shootout in Arizona by a drug smuggler using a Fast and Furious ATF gun?

Rest in peace…agents… rest in peace.

For more stories; http://www.examiner.com/homeland-security-in-national/kimberly-dvorak

© Copyright 2012 Kimberly Dvorak All Rights Reserved.

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Nervous driver alerts Border Patrol and nets $1 Million in crystal- meth

U.S. Border Patrol agents assigned to an interior checkpoint on highway 15 prevented a large illegal drug smuggling attempt that resulted in the seizure of 56 pounds of methamphetamine.

The 56-year-old male Mexican national arrived at the Temecula checkpoint driving a Mercury Cougar when agents observed the man acting suspiciously. Border Patrol noted the nervous driver and directed him to a secondary inspection area.

“A Border Patrol K-9 team performed a cursory inspection of the vehicle resulting in a positive alert to the vehicle’s interior,” according to Scott Simon, Information and communications agent in the San Diego Sector. “Agents searched the vehicle and discovered 24 bundles of methamphetamine concealed inside of the natural voids within the rear quarter panels behind both the driver’s and passenger’s seats.”

Border Patrol said the crystal meth weighed 56 pounds and had an estimated street value of $1,120,000. The suspected drug smuggler and methamphetamine were taken into custody and subsequently handed over to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) for further investigation and possible felony charges. Border Patrol impounded the blue Mercury Cougar

Border Patrol encourages residents “to say something if they see something” by contacting the San Diego agency at (619) 498-9900.

For more stories; http://www.examiner.com/homeland-security-in-national/kimberly-dvorak

© Copyright 2012 Kimberly Dvorak All Rights Reserved.

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DHS releases its 2013 budget touting 10-year success

With a $39.5 billion budget request in front of Congress, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) touts its worthiness and claims Americans are safer than ever before.

The new budget proposal is a whopping 0.5 percent lower than last year’s budget.

“Ten years after the September 11th attacks, America is stronger and more secure today, thanks to the strong support of Congress; the tremendous work of the men and women of DHS and our local, state and federal partners across the homeland security enterprise,” said Secretary Janet Napolitano. “The Department’s FY 2013 budget request preserves core frontline priorities by cutting costs, sharing resources across components, and streamlining operations wherever possible.”

Some notable changes in the new budget will redirect about $850 million from administrative and mission support areas, curbing employees (through attrition) limit overtime, rely on information technology, cut professional services, and concentrate on frontline operations.

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DHS said the changes came after a department-wide efficiency review, which began in 2009, as well as other cost-saving initiatives. As a result, DHS identified $3 billion in cost savings that will be shifted to mission-critical operations.

Secretary Napolitano highlighted FY 2013 priorities as; preventing terrorism through enhanced security using a layered detection process; securing and managing U.S. borders by slowing the flow of illegal aliens, weapons and illicit drugs; enforcing and administering current immigration laws (something illegal immigration activists continue to argue the Obama Administration is promoting back-door amnesty).

While DHS claims to be implementing a nationwide implementation of Secure Communities, large and small city governments continue to block the Secure Communities initiative by refusing to allow law enforcement to run arrested criminals through ICE data bases that could determine their legal, as well as, their criminal status.

“The budget also focuses on monitoring and compliance, promoting adherence to worksite-related laws through criminal prosecutions of egregious employers, Form I-9 inspections, and expansion of E-Verify,” according to DHS.

While DHS may be touting its successes, American citizens feel their liberties are being trampled on a daily basis. It’s been 10 years since 9/11 and striking a balance in homeland security continues to draw scrutiny.

For more stories; http://www.examiner.com/homeland-security-in-national/kimberly-dvorak

© Copyright 2012 Kimberly Dvorak All Rights Reserved.

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5 charged in California with economic espionage for China

A San Francisco federal grand jury charged five individuals as well as five companies for economic espionage and trade secret theft. Federal authorities contend that the individuals stole numerous U.S. trade secrets for companies controlled by the People’s Republic of China (PRC).

The multi-agency task force included U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag; Lisa Monaco, Assistant Attorney General for National Security at the Department of Justice; and Stephanie Douglas, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI San Francisco Division, who unveiled their economic espionage case in a San Francisco courtroom.

According to a superseding indictment, the Chinese government identified chloride-route titanium dioxide (TiO2) as a top priority and wanted to steal the development and production capabilities from U.S. companies. TiO2 is a commercially valuable white pigment chemical with numerous uses, including coloring paint, plastics, and paper.

DuPont invented the chloride-route process for manufacturing TiO2 in the late-1940s and has invested a significant amount of research and development to streamline the production process. Officials said the global titanium dioxide market is valued at $12 billion.

Government attorneys warned that other American corporations will continue to lose valuable research. Intellectual property theft is another example of the Chinese government targeting high-tech manufacturing companies to build their own commerical plants at a fraction of the cost.
The five defendants charged in the indictment were Walter Liew, Christina Liew, Robert Maegerle, Hou Shengdong and Tze Chao, all allegedly obtained and illegally possessed TiO2 trade secrets belonging to DuPont. It’s also alleged that they sold the high-tech trade secrets to the Pangang Group so they could develop a streamlined TiO2 production capability in China.

Included in the grand jury indictment were copies of contracts worth in excess of $20 million for individuals who provided DuPont’s lucrative chemical trade secrets to the PRC.

“The Liews allegedly received millions of dollars of proceeds from these contracts,” the U.S. attorney said. “The proceeds were wired through the United States, Singapore and ultimately back into several bank accounts in the PRC in the names of relatives of Christina Liew.”

The Pangang Group had the assistance of U.S. individuals who obtained the TiO2 trade secrets and wanted to sell those secrets for significant sums of money, according to the government’s indictment.

“As this case demonstrates, technology developed by U.S. companies is vulnerable to concerted efforts by competitors—both at home and abroad—to steal that technology,” said U.S. Attorney Haag. “Fighting economic espionage and trade secret theft is one of the top priorities of this Office, and we will aggressively pursue anyone, anywhere who attempts to steal valuable information from the United States.”

The superseding indictment also named five companies as defendants; Pangang Group Company a Chinese state-owned enterprise, Pangang Group Steel Vanadium & Titanium Company, Pangang Group Titanium Industry Company, Pangang Group International Economic & Trading Company and USA Performance Technology.

Assistant Attorney General Monaco echoed the importance of stopping intellectual property theft. “The theft of America’s trade secrets for the benefit of China and other nations poses a substantial and continuing threat to our economic and national security, and we are committed to holding accountable anyone who robs American businesses of their hard-earned research.”

DuPont reportedly gave information to the FBI that its TiO2 trade secrets had been misappropriated. Once the FBI opened an investigation in March 2011, it didn’t take long for agents to discover who the perpetrators were. All of the defendants involved were charged with conspiracy to commit economic espionage, conspiracy to commit theft of trade secrets and attempted economic espionage.

FBI agents working this case also pointed out a myriad of issues that harm American enterprises. “The goal of this scheme was to obtain the benefit of research and development investments by U.S. companies, without making the same investment of time and money. This is not only unfair, but it does great damage to the U.S. economy and, as a result, undercuts on national security.”

The maximum statutory penalties for each of the alleged charges range from 10- 20 years in prison as well as fines ranging from $250,000 to $10 million.

These indictments contain only allegations and, as in all cases, the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

For more detailed information read the FBI report here.

For other stories concerning China’s stealth war against America and why it’s working click here.

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© Copyright 2012 Kimberly Dvorak All Rights Reserved.

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Mexican Cartel calls for a truce during Pope’s visit

Who knew the ruler of the Vatican, Pope Benedict XVI, could broker a peace deal between rival Mexican drug cartel members, but that’s what the Knights Templar, a vicious so-called religious drug trafficking organization has called for during the Catholic leader’s visit to Mexico on March 23.

The Associated Press posted a photo they received from Mexico Municipal Police department that suggested a truce should be honored ahead of the archdiocese March visit.

“We just want to warn that we do not want more groups in the state of Guanajuato. Confrontations will be inevitable. You have been warned, New Generation, we want Guanajuato in Peace, so don’t think about moving in and much less causing violence, precisely at this time when His Holiness Benedict XVI is coming,” the banner read. (Story here)

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Who knew the ruler of the Vatican, Pope Benedict XVI, could broker a peace deal between rival Mexican drug cartel members, but that’s what the Knights Templar, a vicious so-called religious drug trafficking organization has called for during the Catholic leader’s visit to Mexico on March 23.

The Associated Press posted a photo they received from Mexico Municipal Police department that suggested a truce should be honored ahead of the archdiocese March visit.

“We just want to warn that we do not want more groups in the state of Guanajuato. Confrontations will be inevitable. You have been warned, New Generation, we want Guanajuato in Peace, so don’t think about moving in and much less causing violence, precisely at this time when His Holiness Benedict XVI is coming,” the banner read. (Story here)

The carefully placed banners asking for a rival cartel truce were discovered by police on heavily –travelled Mexico City bridges. The narco banners were also found and removed in several locations throughout central Mexico.

“Police spokesman Gabriel Cordero said in an e-mail that the banners had been taken down and handed over to federal prosecutors. On Jan. 22, Leon Archbishop Jose Guadalupe Martin Rabago called on drug cartels to observe a sort of truce during the Pope’s visit,” according to the Associated Press.

“To those who do evil, if my words can reach them, I would tell them to realize that we are living times of grace and peace, and that they should help by allowing all these people to come to an event that is totally respectable and not to take advantage to do anything that could lead to an experience of mourning and death,” Leon Archbishop Rabago said. “I trust that in their hearts, they are human in the end, there is enough sensitivity to respect people’s lives.”

The Knights Templar (it’s name came from medieval religious warriors) have self-described their religious beliefs in a training manual and reportedly have included a “code of conduct” for their members. One of the so-called rules prohibits cartel members to kill people for money or drugs. However, most experts agree that cartels follow no rules in the gruesome, dark world of narco violence.

Rabago asked the cartels to “collaborate at least to allow that all these people to attend a totally respectable act. Don’t take advantage (of the situation) to do something that will take us to a place of sorrow and death.”

Mexico’s law enforcement officials say they are ramping up security ahead of the Papal leader visit. The country’s leaders have also reassured the Vatican as well as Mexican residents that they will be able to honor Pope Benedict safely.

More than 50,000 deaths, many victims were women and children, can be attributed to the brutal drug cartel turf-war over the past five years.

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© Copyright 2012 Kimberly Dvorak All Rights Reserved.

ICE hires new Public advocate to assist illegal aliens

Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has stepped up its policy regarding the deportation process that infuriated those with “open-borders” advocacy groups.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) continue to tweak and slow the process for those in ongoing detention and removal proceedings. The administration’s new initiative policy department announced its first Public Advocate, ICE Senior Advisor Andrew Lorenzen-Strait.

Mr. Lorenzen-Strait will assist individuals, including those in immigration proceedings, NGOs as well as other advocacy groups concerned with detention removal of illegal aliens.

“As our first Public Advocate, Andrew Lorenzen-Strait will work to expand and enhance our dialogue with the stakeholder community,” said ICE Director John Morton. “We want the public to know that they have a representative at this agency whose sole duty is to ensure their voice is heard and their interests are recognized, and I’m confident Andrew will serve the community well in this capacity.”

Lorenzen-Strait’s prior experience as an analyst for policies related to immigration enforcement, detention and juveniles and senior advisor for Enforcement and Removal Operation’s (ERO) detention management division makes him the perfect choice to assume community liaison duties with ICES. Lorenzen-Strait’s private sector experience with Community Legal Services of Prince George’s County provides valuable real-world knowledge to alleviate immigration proceedings.

Morton said Lorenzen-Strait will report directly to the Office of Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) director and will be responsible for:

• Assisting individuals and community stakeholders in addressing and resolving complaints and concerns in accordance with agency policies and operations, particularly concerns related to ICE enforcement actions involving U.S. citizens;

• Informing stakeholders on ERO policies, programs, and initiatives and enhance understanding of ERO’s mission and core values;

• Engaging stakeholders and building partnerships to facilitate communication, foster collaboration, and solicit input on immigration enforcement initiatives and operations; and

• Advising ICE leadership on stakeholder findings, concerns, recommendations, and priorities as they relate to improving immigration enforcement efforts and activities.

The newly created position highlights ICE’s ongoing work to enact significant policy changes and improvements to the immigration enforcement process. ICE also renewed its policy to speed up immigration proceedings in an effort to promote public safety, border security and the integrity of the immigration system.

However, illegal immigration activist groups contend this new policy is nothing more than amnesty and will only encourage those entering the U.S. illegally to cut in the long immigration wait-list line.

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