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Federal judge strikes down Florida Gov. Rick Scott's welfare drug testing law

Gov. Rick Scott
© Unknown
A federal judge in Orlando, Florida ruled Tuesday that the state's law requiring drug tests from all applicants for public assistance is unconstitutional. According to the New York Times, Judge Mary S. Scriven found that the law - Tea Party Gov. Rick Scott (R)'s signature piece of legislation - violates the U.S. Constitution's protections against unreasonable searches and seizures.

"The court finds there is no set of circumstances under which the warrantless, suspicionless drug testing at issue in this case could be constitutionally applied," Scriven wrote.

The decision made permanent an earlier temporary hold she placed on the law, which was passed by the Republican-controlled state legislature and signed by Scott in 2011. Scott is refusing to back down, saying in a statement on Tuesday that the law was designed to ensure that children aren't being raised in homes headed by drug users.

"Any illegal drug use in a family is harmful and even abusive to a child," read the statement. "We should have a zero tolerance policy for illegal drug use in families - especially those families who struggle to make ends meet and need welfare assistance to provide for their children. We will continue to fight for Florida children who deserve to live in drug-free homes by appealing this judge's decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals."


Mysterious downtown Minneapolis explosion injures over a dozen people

© Associated Press
Firefighters work the scene where a fire engulfed several apartment units in the Cedar Riverside neighborhood in freezing Minneapolis on Wednesday.
Blast Hit Three-Story Building; Cause Is Unknown

A morning explosion rocked a three-story building east of downtown Minneapolis on Wednesday, injuring 13 people, six of them critically.
More than a dozen fire engines, ladder trucks and rescue vehicles were on the scene Wednesday to manage the three-alarm fire, according to Greg Nelson, senior supervisor for emergency communications for the city of Minneapolis. He added that authorities had done a primary search and didn't locate anyone in the building. The building houses a business on the first floor and two floors of apartment units.

John Elder, the police department's public information officer, said the first-floor business is a grocery. A nearby mosque is "in fine shape," he said.

The cause of the explosion is unknown.


India: Blaming the victim, it's (still) your fault

© CommonDreams
The alleged attackers of a Swiss tourist.
Almost exactly a year after the brutal, fatal gang rape of a young woman on a bus in New Delhi that triggered mass protests, another young woman in another Indian city was raped twice, on two separate occasions, by two separate gangs, on Christmas Eve.

Since the death on Dec. 29, 2012 of 23-year-old Jyoti Signh Pandi, India has tightened sexual assault laws and created new fast-track courts for rape prosecutions, but much remains unchanged: New Delhi's reported rapes are said to have doubled, women regularly say they feel unsafe, and clueless officials continue to bad-mouth, harass and blame victims, even tourists - an insane response best exemplified in the 'It's Your Fault' spoof video:


Gone missing: 2,376 children go missing in Karachi in 2013

Missing Children
© The Express Tribune
Police failed to rescue any of the children with only 173 FIRs registered against the disappearances.
Out of the 2,736 children who went missing in Karachi last year, FIRs of only 173 were registered at different police stations, according to an annual report on missing children by a non-government organisation.

"If a child (under 18) goes out of contact with family or guardians, he or she is considered a missing child," said Muhammad Ali, head of Roshni Helpline, quoting the definition of a missing child from the Sindh Child Protection Act, 2013 and the United Nation's Convention on Child Rights (UNCRC).

According to the civil society group, around 2,736 children went missing within the jurisdictions of 114 police stations in the city in 2013. The police recorded 984 complaints but had included 811 of them as non-cognizable cases and subsequently registered FIRs of only 173 missing children.

Ali explained that the data in the report was also gathered from mosques as the "police did not record every case that was brought to them."


"You're lucky I didn't [explicit] shoot you!" warns tyrant cop to innocent homeowner

An innocent man says he was visited by sheriff's deputies who pointed guns in his face and told him he was lucky they didn't kill him.

Connor Guerrero, a recent college graduate, says he was disturbed in his home recently when strange men began sneaking around his yard and pointing flashlights in his windows, giving him cause for alarm.

Guerrero assumed he was being scoped out by burglars and that this could be a "dangerous situation" for him. He attempted to deter the prowlers by banging on the door to declare his presence.

He then peeked out the door to survey his yard.


Welcome to the New Year! "No Refusal" checkpoints demand your saliva and blood

drug checkpoint
© NBC Los Angeles
LAPD performing a drug checkpoint
As drivers prove their innocence at warrantless police checkpoints this New Year, they will not only be scrutinized over their potential consumption of alcohol. A new technology will enable the police to detect and arrest drivers for having marijuana, narcotics, and "other drugs" in their bloodstreams.

The recently unveiled device is a portable saliva swab analyzer, capable of immediately sampling body fluids for the presence of foreign intoxicants. The machines were paid for by grants from the state.

"Traditionally, our office has focused on drunken driving cases," Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer said."We're expanding drug collection and aggressively enforcing all impaired-driving laws."

Arrow Down

Israel government tortures Palestinian children by keeping them in cages, human rights group says

Palestinian Children
© The Independent, UK
The NGO called for Israel’s definition of torture to be changed after children were kept in outdoor holding pens for ‘months’ during winter.
An Israeli human rights organisation has accused the government of torturing Palestinian children after it emerged some were kept for months in outdoor cages during winter.

The Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI) published a report which said children suspected of minor crimes were subjected to "public caging", threats and acts of sexual violence and military trials without representation.

It came as the government's Public Petitions Committee held a hearing to discuss the issue, which the PCATI said must be addressed with a change to the law.

The country's Public Defender's Office (PDO) recently released details of one particularly shocking visit by its lawyers to a detention facility.

"During our visit, held during a fierce storm that hit the state, attorneys met detainees who described to them a shocking picture: in the middle of the night dozens of detainees were transferred to the external iron cages built outside the IPS transition facility in Ramla," the PDO wrote on its website.

"It turns out that this procedure, under which prisoners waited outside in cages, lasted for several months, and was verified by other officials."


Life in the emerging American Police State: What's in store for our freedoms in 2014?

"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." - George Santayana, The Life of Reason, Vol. 1

In Harold Ramis' classic 1993 comedy Groundhog Day, TV weatherman Phil Connors (played by Bill Murray) is forced to live the same day over and over again until he not only gains some insight into his life but changes his priorities. Similarly, as I illustrate in my book A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State, we in the emerging American police state find ourselves reliving the same set of circumstances over and over again - egregious surveillance, strip searches, police shootings of unarmed citizens, government spying, the criminalization of lawful activities, warmongering, etc. - although with far fewer moments of comic hilarity.

What remains to be seen is whether 2014 will bring more of the same or whether "we the people" will wake up from our somnambulant states. Indeed, when it comes to civil liberties and freedom, 2013 was far from a banner year. The following is just a sampling of what we can look forward to repeating if we don't find some way to push back against the menace of an overreaching, aggressive, invasive, militarized government and restore our freedoms.

Government spying

It's hard to understand how anyone could be surprised by the news that the National Security Agency has been systematically collecting information on all telephone calls placed in the United States, and yet the news media have treated it as a complete revelation. Nevertheless, such outlandish government spying been going on domestically since the 1970s, when Senator Frank Church (D-Ida.), who served as the chairman of the Select Committee on Intelligence that investigated the NSA's breaches, warned the public against allowing the government to overstep its authority in the name of national security. Church recognized that such surveillance powers "at any time could be turned around on the American people, and no American would have any privacy left, such is the capability to monitor everything: telephone conversations, telegrams, it doesn't matter. There would be no place to hide." Recent reports indicate that the NSA, in conjunction with the CIA and FBI, has actually gone so far as to intercept laptop computers ordered online in order to install spyware on them.


Happy New Year 2014?


Happy 2014?
On December 31st of 2011, I wrote a short article predicting that the world was not going to end in 2012 as so many people wanted it to. I pointed out that there had been a lot of "Ends of the World" predicted throughout history and the 2012 bouhaha wasn't much different. In fact, you can almost take it to the bank that if somebody is predicting it, it isn't going to happen because once a prediction is made, people begin to act differently and that changes the outcome. Just think about Jonah prophesying destruction on the city of Nineveh and how upset he was when God supposedly changed his mind because the people got their act together and repented of their evil-doing, whatever it was.

On the other hand, there does seem to be something to this predicting business, but not many people get it right. Just think about the Fundie cult that was predicting the end of the world to happen in mid-March of 2011. The world, as a whole, didn't end, of course, but life as they knew it did end for a whole lot of people in Japan thanks to an impressive earthquake and tsunami.

So, we made it through 2012 and now, we've got another year notched on our belt in addition: we made it through 2013 and the world still hasn't ended. Or has it?

Comment: More food for thought...

Finally catching up - Could the Black Death actually have been an Ebola-like virus?

New Light on the Black Death: The Viral and Cosmic Connection

Black Death found to be Ebola-like virus

For the sake of you and your family's health, ditch the sugar and start eating animal fats. See:

Are you prepping your diet?

The Ketogenic Diet - An Overview

Eye 1

Pennsylvania trooper charged for punishing sleeping 13-year-old with pepper spray

sad child
© shutterstock
A Pennsylvania State Trooper has been placed on unpaid leave after being charged for using pepper spray to punish his girlfriend's 13-year-old son for sleeping instead of going to school.

WTAE first reported that Trooper Ernest Boatright found the teen in bed earlier this year when he was supposed to be in school and discharged pepper spray into his eyes, according to court papers.

The boy told police that he began to cough and knew that it was pepper spray because Boatright had used the spray on him before.

Court records indicated that Boatright had admitted using pepper spray on two cats on an enclosed porch, but his attorney said that the trooper "vehemently denies the charges that have been filed against him."