Society's Child
Map


Che Guevara

Western states move to take back land from the feds

The fight over Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy's cows grazing illegally on federal land is a symbol of a much larger issue: control of land in western states, where the federal government is dominant.

Like a mustang tied to a fence post, many westerners for years have resisted Uncle Sam's control of land they say more properly belongs to states or counties - or to nobody at all except the ranchers, miners, and loggers who work the land for its natural resources.

The tussle over Cliven Bundy's 400 cows - grazing on federal land, although he refuses to pay the required fees now amounting to more than $1 million - sharpens this debate, which has featured state legislators, county officials, environmentalists, and federal judges (all of whom have ruled against Mr. Bundy).

In Salt Lake City Friday, representatives from Utah, Idaho, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, Wyoming, Oregon, and Washington met for a "Legislative Summit on the Transfer of Public Lands."

"Those of us who live in the rural areas know how to take care of lands," Montana state Sen. Jennifer Fielder said at a news conference. "We have to start managing these lands. It's the right thing to do for our people, for our environment, for our economy and for our freedoms."

In other words, today's revival of the "Sagebrush Rebellion" is as much about political philosophy as it is about great stretches of the largely-arid territory west of the 100th meridian splitting the Dakotas and running down through Texas.

USA

The war overseas no longer stays overseas - it's on our doorsteps now

Gunman in front of American flag

Feeling safe yet?
In 2007, a new phenomenon reared its ugly head in Afghanistan. With two attacks that year and two more the next, it was first dubbed "green-on-blue violence," and later the simpler, blunter "insider attack." At one level, it couldn't have been more straightforward. Afghan soldiers or policemen (or in a small number of cases Taliban infiltrators) would suddenly turn their weapons on their American or NATO mentors or allies and gun them down. Think of these "incidents" as early votes in the Afghan elections -- not, as Lenin might once have had it, with their feet, but with their guns after spending time up close and personal with Americans or other Westerners. It was a phenomenon that only intensified, reaching its height in 2012 with 46 attacks that killed 60 allied soldiers before slowly dying down as American combat troops began to leave the country and far stricter controls were put in place on relations between Afghan, U.S., and allied forces in the field.

It has not, however, died out. Not quite. Not yet. In a uniquely grim version of an insider attack just two weeks ago, an Afghan police commander turned his gun on two western journalists, killing Pulitzer Prize-winning news photographer Anja Niedringhaus and wounding AP reporter Kathy Gannon. And even more recently, just after it was reported that a month had passed without an American death in a war zone for the first time since 2002, Army Specialist Ivan Lopez killed three fellow soldiers in an insider attack at Fort Hood, Texas.

With its hint of blowback, this is not, of course, a comparison anyone in the mainstream American media is likely to make. On the whole, we prefer not to think of our wars coming home. In reality, however, Lopez's eight-minute shooting rampage with a pistol purchased at a local gun shop fits the definition of an "insider attack" quite well, as did the earlier Fort Hood massacre by an Army psychiatrist. Think of it as an unhinged form of American war coming home, and as a kind of blowback unique to our moment.

After all, name me another wartime period when, for whatever reason, two U.S. soldiers shot up the same base at different times, killing and wounding dozens of their fellow troops. There was, of course, the "fragging" of officers in Vietnam, but this is a new phenomenon, undoubtedly reflective of the disturbing path the U.S. has cut in the world, post-9/11. Thrown into the mix is a homegrown American culture of massacre and the lifting of barriers to the easy purchase of ever more effective weaponry. (If, in fact, you think about it for a moment, most of the mass killings in this country, generally by young men, whether in schools, movie theaters, shipyards, or elsewhere, are themselves a civilian version of "insider attacks.")

Ironically, in 2011, the Obama administration launched a massive Insider Threat Program to train millions of government employees and contractors to look for signs in fellow workers of the urge to launch insider attacks. Unfortunately, the only kind of insider attacks administration officials could imagine were those attributed to whistleblowers and leakers. (Think: Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden.) So, despite much official talk about dealing with the mental health of military men, women, and veterans, the military itself remains open to yet more insider attacks. After almost 13 years of failed wars in distant lands, think of us as living in Ameraqafghanica.

Today, TomDispatch regular Ann Jones, whose odyssey of a book, They Were Soldiers: How the Wounded Return From America's Wars -- The Untold Story, captures the truly painful cost of these wars for America's soldiers like no other, points out just what every commentator in this country has avoided writing about and every government and military official up to the president has avoided talking about, despite the massive coverage of the Fort Hood killings. Tom
Quenelle

Justice Scalia tells law students, "At a certain point, perhaps you should revolt if taxes become too high"

antonin scalia
© AP Photo/Jessica Hill
In this March 8, 2012, file photo, Supreme CourtJustice Antonin Scalia speaks at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Conn.
Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia told a group of law students that it might be a good idea to revolt if taxes become too high in the future.

While speaking at the University of Tennessee College of Law on Tuesday, Justice Scalia was asked by a student about his interpretation of the constitutionality of the income tax, the Knoxville News Sentinel reported.

Justice Scalia continued to tell the students that they have every right to express criticism of the government.

"You're entitled to criticize the government, and you can use words, you can use symbols, you can use telegraph, you can use Morse code, you can burn a flag," he said, according to the News Sentinel.
Heart - Black

Police hunt for killer after three swans found beheaded near Milton Keynes, UK

The severed heads of three swans were found in front of a pub near Milton Keynes

Police are searching for the person who cut the heads off three swans and left them lying opposite a pub.

The severed heads of the three birds were found by anglers close to Mount Farm Lake near Milton Keynes, Bucks. Steven Cooper, the club's fisheries officer and secretary, discovered the first head lying on the lakeside.

He said anglers had noticed swans had been "disappearing" from the waterway in recent months.

He said: "I've been a member of the club for 10 years, but have never known anything like this. I was out one afternoon and the head was just lying there by the waterside opposite The Inn On The Lake pub.

"Anyone could have come across it - a runner, someone walking their dogs, a small child. It was horrible. We have found three heads, and one of them had the body close by it. It doesn't look like it was done by an animal, it was a sharp blade that took the heads off.
Star of David

Israeli police clash with Palestinians at Jerusalem holy site

Al Aqsa Mosque

Al-Aqsa Mosque
Israeli police arrested 16 Palestinians at one of Jerusalem's most revered and politically sensitive holy sites on Sunday as they dispersed protesters opposed to any Jewish attempts to pray there.

A police spokesman said officers used stun grenades to disperse dozens of rioters, who threw rocks and firecrackers at them at the site revered by Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary and by Jews as the Temple Mount, in Jerusalem's walled Old City.

Two officers were slightly injured and treated at the scene in the brief clash, the spokesman added. Five Palestinians were also slightly hurt, a Muslim clergyman said.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said the plaza near the al Aqsa mosque had remained open to visitors during the clash, which was confined to a small area. Police did not enter the mosque, he said.
Eye 1

Big Brother in Compton: How police spied on an entire city

A sergeant in the L.A. County Sheriff's Department compared the experiment to Big Brother, even though he went ahead with it willingly. Is your city next?
This is the future if nothing is done to stop it.

In a secret test of mass surveillance technology, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department sent a civilian aircraft* over Compton, California, capturing high-resolution video of everything that happened inside that 10-square-mile municipality.
Pistol

Chicago craziness: At least 9 dead, 32 injured in shootings over weekend

© AFP Photo / Justin Sullivan
Nine people have been killed and a further 32 injured in weekend shootings in Chicago which started on Friday afternoon and lasted until Monday morning. Five of the injured are children.

The kids were victims of a drive-by shooting in the city's southern Park Manor district. A group opened fire from a car.
"I thought it was firecrackers but I saw everyone running," eyewitness Kimyana Bryant told NBC Chicago.

"My mom ran over to us. I was trying to get all the kids from the park. I brought them over here so they could be in the house with us."

However, police did not confirm the witness' claims.
Book

Stay home! Michele Obama hit with 1,000-signature petition against speaking at high school graduation 'because it would overshadow the students' big day'

Brown v. Board of Education
© Google
A high school senior started a petition against Michelle Obama speaking at Topeka High School's graduation
  • Taylor Gifford, 18, started an online petition on Thursday with over 1,200 signatures asking that Michelle Obama not speak at Topeka High School graduation
  • Obama's speech is tied to the 60th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Brown v. Board of Education outlawing segregation in schools
  • Some students feel that the speech would overshadow student accomplishments and others feel limited seating will be a problem
If expanding the guest list to include Michelle Obama at graduation for high school students in the Kansas capital city means fewer seats for friends and family, some students and their parents would prefer the first lady not attend.

A furor over what the Topeka school district considers an honor has erupted after plans were announced for Obama to address a combined graduation ceremony for five area high schools next month an 8,000-seat arena. For some, it was the prospect of a tight limit on the number of seats allotted to each graduate.

For others, it was the notion that Obama's speech, tied to the 60th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Brown v. Board of Education outlawing segregation in schools, would overshadow the student's big day.

A high school senior started a petition against Michelle Obama speaking at Topeka High School's graduation
Arrow Down

Warrantless bag searches become ubiquitous for Boston subway, bus travelers

Transit Police
© Bay State Examiner/YouTube
Transit police conducting a warrantless checkpoint in Boston.
Massachusetts - Warrantless bag searches at have become commonplace at travel checkpoints in Boston as concerns for Homeland Security have overridden citizens' right to be free of unreasonable searches. Travelers are forced to "security inspections" of their handbags, briefcases, and other personal possessions.

Large signs indicate that public spaces under the authority of the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority (MBTA) are void of privacy rights. The first bullet point on one of the signs displayed the following:
For the protection and the security of the riding public, all persons choosing to use the MBTA transit system will be subject to security inspections of their handbags, briefcases, and/or other carry on items.
The signage goes on to claim that all persons will be stopped and searched and that declining a search will result in an order to leave the station. Those who object will be arrested and charged with trespassing - on public property - which could result in a $100 fine and up to 30 days in jail.
Life Preserver

U.S. Special Forces' suicide rates hit record levels

© AFP/Don Emmert
The suicide rates for U.S. military members who serve in special forces, like the Navy SEALs and the Army Rangers, have hit all-time highs, said Adm. William McRaven, the head of Special Operations Command.

The rate's been high for two years, he said, Newsmax reported.

"And this year, I am afraid, we are on path to break that," he went on at a conference in Tampa. "My soldiers have been fighting now for 12, 13 years in hard combat - hard combat - and anybody that has spent any time in this war has been changed by it. It's that simple."
Top