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Local, state, and federal authorities raid Texas secessionist meeting

It seemed like a typical congressional meeting for the Republic of Texas. Senators and the president gathered in the center of a Bryan, Texas, meeting hall, surrounded by public onlookers, to debate issues of the national currency, develop international relations and celebrate the birthday of one of their oldest members.

But this wasn't 1836, and this would be no ordinary legislative conference. Minutes into the meeting a man among the onlookers stood and moved to open the hall door, letting in an armed and armored force of the Bryan Police Department, the Brazos County Sheriff's Office, the Kerr County Sheriff's Office, Agents of the Texas District Attorney, the Texas Rangers and the FBI.

In the end, at least 20 officers corralled, searched and fingerprinted all 60 meeting attendees, before seizing all cellphones and recording equipment in a Valentine's Day 2015 raid on the Texas separatist group.

"We had no idea what was going on," said John Jarnecke, president of the Republic of Texas. "We knew of nothing that would warrant such an action."

The raid was a response to legal summons sent by Republic of Texas members to a Kerr County judge and bank employee, demanding they appear in the Republic's court at the Veterans and Foreign Wars building in Bryan the day the officers stormed in. Jarnecke's group, the subject of a half-hour YouTube documentary, maintains a small working government, including official currency, congress and courts.

Court rules cop who was fired for blowing the whistle on NYPD arrest quotas can sue

© Flickr/ Ethan
A federal appeals court ruled in favor of a New York City police officer who alleges he was unjustly punished by his superiors after he exposed an illegal quota system within his Bronx precinct.

In a ruling Thursday, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan overturned a lower court's decision to dismiss the suit, brought by Officer Craig Matthews and the New York Civil Liberties Union in 2012.

"Quotas lead to illegal arrests, criminal summonses and ruined lives. They undermine the trust between the police and the people they are supposed to be protecting and serving," said NYCLU Associate Legal Director Christopher Dunn, lead counsel in the case.

"Today's decision protects the ability of police officers to speak out against this kind of misconduct when they see it. New York City's finest should be applauded when they expose abuse, not abused and retaliated against."

The city Law Department says it's reviewing the decision, while the NYPD still maintains it does not operate under arrest or summons quotas.

Matthews, a 17-year veteran of the NYPD, said supervisors at the 42nd Precinct in the Bronx kept color-coded records of which officers met quota, and punished those who fell short.

Comment: The NYPD might as well be an extension of the U.S. military. It doesn't exist to protect citizens and stop violence, it is only the army for the elites used to control the masses.


Detainees who were tortured at Chicago's Homan Square "black site" speak out

© Scott Olson/Getty
On Tuesday, The Guardian's Spencer Ackerman reported on the "equivalent of a CIA black site" operated by police in Chicago. When computer program analyst Kory Wright opened the story, he told me, "I immediately recognized the building" — because, the Chicago resident says, he was zip-tied to a bench there for hours in an intentionally overheated room without access to water or a bathroom, eventually giving false statements to try and end his ordeal.

A friend of Wright's swept up in the same police raid described his own brutal treatment at the facility, known as Homan Square, including attacks to his face and genitals. The experiences of the two men line up with the way defense attorneys described the "black site" warehouse to Ackerman: as a place where detainees were held off the books, without access to lawyers, while being beaten or shackled for long periods of time.

Wright claims that nine years ago, he spent "at least six [brutal] hours" at the Homan facility on his 21st birthday. He says that he was never read his Miranda rights, and that his arrest was not put into the police system until after his ordeal was over. Wright was reminded of the facility again this week when he noticed a tweet from a writer he admires, The Atlantic's Ta-Nehisi Coates, linking to Ackerman's story. Ackerman compared Homan Square to the network of shadowy torture centers built by the CIA across the Middle East — but focused "on Americans, most often poor, black and brown," rather than on purported overseas terrorists.

Also unlike CIA black sites, Homan Square wasn't a completely furtive enterprise. Several lawyers and anti-police brutality advocates with whom I spoke knew that suspects were routinely detained at Homan. The facility houses many of the police department's special units, including the anti-gang and anti-drug task forces, along with the evidence-retrieval unit. Once suspects arrived at Homan, they did not have to be booked immediately, at least not as far as the police department was concerned, according to the people with whom I spoke. In fact, it was possible that a suspect's arrest report wouldn't show that he or she had ever been to Homan. Further, police could detain individuals at Homan for hours, or disappear them, before shipping them off to a district station for processing.

Comment: See also: Gulag archipelago: Chicago police are torturing and disappearing Americans at local 'black site' - How many more sites are there across the US?

Post-It Note

Shame: Florida teacher posts 'student terror list'

terrorist wheel of fortune
© Anthony Freda Art
Last week, a St. Pete high school teacher was stuck in hot water over shaming students by placing their names on a "student terrorist list" and posting it on the door. It is unclear what was the motive for his actions. The teacher, however, went so far as to give the blacklisted students Arabic sounding alias names.

While the teacher sounds like he might have a screw loose - is he in reality doing what he was trained to do?

In other words, was he doing "his job" but just went one tad too far? See below for more. Notably, it doesn't appear that he will be reprimanded for his actions.

While this particular story is of a quirky, zany nature, the truth is, that government schools are bent toward detecting future thought-crime terrorism in students.

Comment: This may seem like a joke but one shudders to think that teachers informing on students, or vice versa, will become an expected and accepted practice.

Piggy Bank

States and municipalities staging all-out assault on pension benefits

pension fund
States and municipalities throughout the United States are engaged in a frontal assault on the pension benefits of current and retired public employees. These attacks are proceeding with complete disregard for the law, riding roughshod over state constitutional protections safeguarding pension benefits that employees have earned over decades of toil.

Earlier this month, Judge Christopher Klein signed a confirmation order allowing the city of Stockton, California to go ahead with its plan to slash workers' retirement benefits as part of a deal to exit bankruptcy. The agreement will eliminate health care benefits for municipal retirees while cutting pension benefits for new-hires and increasing employee pension payments.

In ruling that bankruptcy courts have the authority to slash current retirees' pensions, Klein could not hide his enthusiasm. He declared that CalPERS, the state's public employee pension system, "has bullied its way about this case with an iron fist." But, he gloated, the pension fund "turns out to have a glass jaw."

Comment: The pathocracy will continue to dismantle every social safety net to keep the system rigged in their favor. Those in power will use any excuse to rob the masses, while widely proclaiming that changes will be made and / or that they are doing this for the greater good. Once any nation is overtaken by pathological individuals, the stage has been set for its decline.

The American dream is dead

Arrow Down

The truth about Walmart's paltry wage increase

evil walmart
© Reclaim
Remember when Walmart got panned for running a Thanksgiving food drive for its own employees—overlooking the irony of demonstrating noblesse oblige by asking customers to subsidize the workers the company itself impoverished? The retail giant took a more strategic approach last week when rolling out its latest do-gooder scheme: raising its base wage incrementally to $10 an hour. The move was widely praised even by labor groups—for lifting wages slightly closer to... well, what it should have been paying workers all along.

Still, the announced raise, to a $9 minimum, then rising to $10 an hour by early next year, isn't chump change: for many, it means earning perhaps $1 or $2 more per hour, which, spread across an estimated half million workers, may generate a not-insignificant economic stimulus. Moreover, Walmart promises to offer more stable scheduling and boost some managers' starting pay, as well—all measures that respond partially to the longstanding demands workers nationwide have aired in protests, petitions and lawsuits.

Some predict Walmart's move could eventually raise the floor for the entire labor force, because the company controls a tremendous retail market share and helps set standards for pay scales across the supply chain, from shelf stockers to truck drivers. Though this market influence has been blamed for depressing wages, an uptick in Walmart's base wage may theoretically encourage competitors to match its more favorable offerings on the labor market. That's the business narrative painted by CEO Doug McMillon when he told CBS that Walmart's motive was to "provide a great customer experience" and ensure that workers understood "how much we value them."

But even with the raise, Walmart would still seem to peg the value of its workers at less than a living wage. The lowest-paid employees rely on billions in public benefits each year, including masses of food stamps, to scrape by. According to one recent analysis based on federal estimates, "a single Walmart Supercenter cost taxpayers between... $3,015 and $5,815 on average for each of 300 workers." If a part-time associate is working 1,000 hours a year—roughly half its workers are part-timers—the extra dollar an hour still might not make her financially self-sufficient, much less lift her family out of poverty.

Comment: See: Pathetic: Half-million of Wal-Mart's US workers to get average 50 cent pay raises


1.6 billion people worldwide forced to pay bribes

© Thinkstock
A major study has looked at bribery levels across the world and reached a disappointing conclusion: a total of 1.6 billion people worldwide - nearly a quarter of the global population - are forced to pay bribes simply to gain access to everyday public services.

The research, published in a new book by academics from the University of Strathclyde and the University of Birmingham in the UK, found that bribes are paid for healthcare and education, to obtain permits or after being stopped by police.

Scamming the globe

Professor Richard Rose of Strathclyde and Dr. Caryn Peiffer of Birmingham conducted surveys interviewing more than 250,000 people in 119 countries in Africa, Asia, the European Union, former Communist European nations, Latin America and the Anglo-American world. There were significant differences in bribery levels between continents, but also between different countries in the same continent.

Europe has very low rates of bribery, with only 4 percent on average making such payments. By contrast, the average is 22 percent in Latin America and 29 percent in the 30 African countries surveyed.

However, Professor Rose says that: "'Within every continent, there are major differences in the percentage of people annually paying bribes. In Africa, the range is between 63 percent in Sierra Leone and 4 percent in Botswana; in the European Union, which has the goal of upholding the rule of law, there were 29 percent paying a bribe in Lithuania and fewer than 1 percent reporting bribing a British public official."

Large percentages of countries' populations will avoid the problem for long periods simply because they do not have regular contact with public services, however most people will have contact with public services at some stage in their life. Parents of school-age children are most likely to be in contact with education officials, while older people, especially widows, are most likely to need health care, and young men are most likely to have contact with the police.

Banksy in Gaza: Haunting images among ruins of war

banksy in gaza

Photo from
The English graffiti artist has taken his politically charged message to the bombed-out neighborhoods of Gaza, where a series of murals amid a backdrop of devastation attempts to give voice to the desperation felt by Palestinians.

The first mural, entitled "Bomb Damage," appears to be inspired by Rodin's famous sculpture "The Thinker." In Banksy's version, however, the viewer is struck with the realization that the only possible thing on the mind of the subject is the utter despair and devastation that surrounds him.

Another piece, which was featured in streetartnews, is done in the artist's trademark stark, stenciled imagery. It shows the silhouettes of children riding an amusement park swing that is circling around one of the looming guard stations that punctuate the length of the West Bank barrier, which, upon completion, will be approximately 700 kilometers (430 miles).

banksy in gaza

Photo from
The artist also provided his personal thoughts on the situation confronting the people of Gaza:

"Gaza is often described as 'the world's largest open air prison' because no one is allowed to enter or leave. But that seems a bit unfair to prisons - they don't have their electricity and drinking water cut off randomly almost everyday," Banksy said in a spray-painted statement.

American sniper vs. Baghdad sniper

© East News/AP
Chris Kyle's story is now enshrined in celluloid, taking over $300 million at the box office, but the Islamic Army in Iraq also had its legend, "Juba" - the Baghdad Sniper.

A Texas jury found former Marine Eddie Ray Routh guilty of capital murder; in 2013 he shot to death former Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, the man behind American Sniper - the book later turned into a blockbuster movie directed by Hollywood icon Clint Eastwood. Texas Governor Greg Abbott also made his mark, post-verdict, by tweeting "JUSTICE!"

It didn't matter that Routh's attorneys — and his family - insisted he suffered from psychosis, caused by post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Texas prosecutors easily brushed it off - "proving" Routh's episodes of PTSD were provoked by alcohol and marijuana.

3 Brooklyn men arrested for attempting to join ISIS

Brooklyn men isis
© Sketches by Christine Cornell/From CNN
Three men — identified as Abdurasul Jaraboev, 24; Akhror Saidakhmetov, 19; and Abror Habibov, 30 — were arrested in New York and Florida, according to a complaint unsealed in federal court in Brooklyn, New York. They face charges that include attempting and conspiring to provide material support and resources to a foreign terrorist organization, the complaint said.
Two men were arrested yesterday in New York as they prepared to join Islamic State militants in Syria, while a third man was arrested in Florida for helping to fund their efforts, after they boasted of their plans on the Internet, federal investigators said.

The three, all immigrants from central Asia who live in the New York City borough of Brooklyn, plotted to launch attacks in the United States if they were prevented from joining the extremist group, according to a criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Brooklyn.

One of the men repeatedly offered to assassinate President Barack Obama if ordered to do so by the Islamic State group, according to the complaint.

Akhror Saidakhmetov, 19, a citizen of Kazakhstan, was arrested at John F. Kennedy International Airport as he tried to board a flight to Istanbul on his way to Syria, the FBI said.

In conversations secretly recorded by the FBI, Saidakhmetov said he might try to force the flight to divert "so that the Islamic State would gain a plane," the complaint said.

He also said if he failed to reach Syria, he was prepared to join the military to kill U.S. soldiers, plant a bomb on Coney Island in Brooklyn or shoot FBI agents and New York police, the complaint said.

Comment: Check out Behind the Headlines - Weekly Broadcast - 22 February 2015 for further discussion on the rise of these types of incidences.

See also:

Dutch bikers for 'Murica - French Jews for ISIS - Oy vey!

Sick society: Hundreds of French girls leaving each week to join ISIS - Thousands of European terrorists pillaging and plundering Middle East

ISIS Denver Girl Sentenced: Shannon Conley Gets 4-Year Prison Term For Trying To Join Islamic State

Pregnant Austrian teen who ran off to join ISIS says she 'made a mistake'

Swedish girls 'forced' abroad to join Isis

UK female jihadists run ISIS sex-slave brothels