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Sun, 25 Jun 2017
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EBT card outage? Eight days into June and many Americans are still waiting for food stamp money

Widespread reports continue to pour in from all over the nation of "glitches" with the food stamp system. It is eight days into the month and large numbers of people still have not received their benefits, and in other instances it is being reported that EBT cards are simply not working correctly. So what in the world is going on here? On downdetector.com there are scores of reports of problems with the EBT system from people all over the nation. Could this simply be another example of government incompetence, or is something else at work here?

I had heard some rumblings about this over the past few days, but I had not really taken them seriously until I read an article from highly respected author Ray Gano...
It interesting over the weekend I got several emails telling me about cell phones being down, internet being down, and get this, EBT cards not working and having no money associated to them.

This is a concern because when the US Government has payment failures, then there is possibly something happening that the press is not telling you about.

Now, we know that computers have problems and that states, counties and cities run on computers. But what is interesting is that since the beginning of 2016, The US government has had over 2,700 reports on downdetector.com showing that they have been late loading the money onto these EBT cards.

Folks, we are now going on 8 days where the Government has not paid the EBT payments so that people have food.

Handcuffs

Information kept secret regarding 12 Gitmo detainees' attacks on Americans

© www.rt.com
Pentagon's plan is to close Gitmo.
Since a Pentagon official reported two months ago that some dozen former Guantánamo detainees were responsible for the deaths of Americans overseas, the Obama administration has not been forthcoming on the locations or names of those involved.

The disclosure was first made in March by senior Pentagon official Paul Lewis, who oversees Guantánamo issues at the Defense Department, before Congressional lawmakers. Since then, the Obama administration and Lewis have failed to provide further details on the specifics of those attacks or the names of those allegedly involved.

The Washington Post, however, learned from current and former US officials that all of the detainees that were implicated in the attacks were released during the Bush administration. They also discovered that most of the incidents were directed at military personnel, with the dead including one American civilian, a female aid worker who died in Afghanistan in 2008.

Another official told the Post that nine of the detainees are "now dead or in foreign government custody." "Because many of these incidents were large-scale firefights in a war zone, we cannot always distinguish whether Americans were killed by the former detainees or by others in the same fight," the official told the Post.

The accusation comes at a politically sensitive time for the Obama administration, which is ostensibly trying to fulfill a 2008 campaign pledge to close the Guantanamo Bay military prison by transferring many of the detainees to third-party countries. Those that are still considered the greatest threat to the US would be transferred to a US location under Obama's plan. Obama has argued that keeping detainees at Guantánamo only supports terrorist efforts in recruiting soldiers. Just under 700 detainees have been released from Guantánamo since the prison opened in 2002, while 80 inmates remain.


Comment: The Republican-led Congress would be required to change a current law that prohibits the Obama administration from spending money to transfer detainees, many held without charge or trial, to the mainland United States.


2 + 2 = 4

Tel Aviv mayor: Military occupation of Palestine is to blame for cafe attack

© Baz Ratner / Reuters
An Israeli policeman searches a restaurant following a shooting attack in the center of Tel Aviv June 8, 2016
The mayor of Tel Aviv has blamed Israel's occupation of the Palestinian territories for an attack on a cafe that left four Israelis dead. The country's deputy defense minister labeled the remarks "bizarre" and "delusional."

"We might be the only country in the world where another nation is under occupation without civil rights," Mayor Ron Huldai told Israeli Army Radio, referring to the Wednesday attack by two Palestinian gunmen.

"You can't hold people in a situation of occupation and hope they'll reach the conclusion everything is alright," he added.

The mayor went on to state that "no one has the courage" to find peace with the Palestinians, and called for attempts to strike an agreement.

"There has been an occupation for 49 years, which I was part of and I know the reality, and I know leaders need courage to not just talk...we have to show our neighbours that we have true intentions to return to a reality of a smaller Jewish state with a clear Jewish majority," Huldai said.

Comment: Kudos to Huldai for telling the truth. It's a rarity in Israel these days.


Padlock

Police state formed through militarized stress training, inculcation of pathological thinking and selection for stupidity

Policing in the United States metamorphosed drastically over the last few decades after the NDAA in 1990 allowed departments to obtain surplus military equipment free of charge. With the weapons and gear of war likewise came the warrior ethos. Though unprepared to handle accouterments of the battlefield, hapless American police waged war on the very communities in their charge — an epidemic level of violence by law enforcement has since erupted.

But this article isn't a condemnation of police officers, many of whom spend their entire career without resorting to the use of excessive force. But because incidents involving excessively violent tactics resulting in serious injury and death have become so frequent people often don't take notice, it's necessary to point out the simplest means to end the epidemic already exists.

Training.

If we are to end or at least significantly curb the unnecessary brutality, militaristic police training must end. As intuitive as it might sound, ending the stress-based, boot camp-style instruction — currently the model for the majority of police academies — would transform American policing.

Treasure Chest

Income inequality keeps growing: The 1% now own almost half of total global wealth

© Noor Khamis / Reuters
Young girls do laundry outside their house early morning in Nairobi's Kibera slums.
Another report shows the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer. Boston Consulting Group says only one percent of the population can call themselves millionaires or richer, and the share of their wealth is growing.

About 18.5 million households have net assets of at least $1 million, totaling $78.8 trillion, which is near the global annual economic output, Boston Consulting said in its Global Wealth 2016 report.

That also amounts to 47 percent of total global wealth, i.e. financial assets (bonds, shares, cash and deposits) excluding property. Overall, global wealth grew by 5.2 percent to $168 trillion.

Comment: Moral decay and wealth inequality: Following in the footsteps of ancient Rome


Jet5

2 F-16 fighter jets collide mid-air in Georgia: 6 crashed jets in the U.S. over 2 weeks

What is up with all these plane crashes?

Still from footage of the F/A-18 jet crash outside Nashville on June 2nd

On June 8th:
Two South Carolina Air National Guard fighter jets involved in training ahead of an upcoming deployment collided Tuesday night over rural Georgia, forcing both pilots to eject safely, according to a unit commander.
On June 2nd:
The U.S. Navy has announced that its elite flight demonstration squadron, the Blue Angels, has canceled upcoming performances in New York and Ohio following the death of one of its pilots during a crash outside Nashville.
Also on June 2nd:
Minutes after his team streaked over President Obama and Air Force Academy cadets at a graduation ceremony on Thursday, the pilot of a Thunderbirds fighter jet maneuvered his plane away from homes as it crashed into a field near Colorado Springs.
On May 26th:
Two Navy F/A-18Fs crashed off the coast of North Carolina during a routine training mission on Thursday, Navy officials told USNI News. The four crew were recovered and transported to Sentara Norfolk General Hospital by a Coast Guard helicopter, according to a release from the Coast Guard's 5th District.

Stormtrooper

Civil asset forfeiture goes digital: Police tool swipes money from cards before conviction

© Charles Duggar / Wikipedia
Confiscating cash or property without a conviction or charges is now old hat for law enforcement. Stand by for the Electronic Recovery and Access to Data machine (ERAD), a device that sucks digital money off prepaid cards and into police accounts.

The Oklahoma Highway Patrol purchased 16 ERADs and began using them last month. In instances where troopers suspect a prepaid, debit, credit or virtually any card with a magnetic strip has been used in a crime, they can take the card and slide it through their new machine to generate information on the account - as well as either freeze or transfer the digital funds.

Comment: What happened to "innocent until proven guilty"? Radley Balko at WaPo adds:
Wealthier people with conventional credit cards don't have to worry about this new technology. ... Let's not forget that this is the same state where a district attorney was caught contracting forfeiture actions out to private company, including the authority to pull over motorists. Another prosecutor used forfeiture funds to pay off his student loans. Still another used the law to live rent-free in a seized house, despite a judge's order to sell it. He also used forfeiture proceeds to pay his utility bills.

A report published last year found that of the $6 million seized by Oklahoma law enforcement agencies over the previous five years, two-thirds was taken from people who were never charged with a crime. The state received a "D" grade for its forfeiture polices by the libertarian advocacy law firm the Institute for Justice. And Oklahoma's law enforcement community has been especially hostile to any efforts at reform. Last year, Tulsa District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler warned that if Oklahoma passed a law like the one in New Mexico, the state could expect to see decapitations by drug cartels and corpses swinging from bridges.
...
New Mexico, Montana and New Hampshire recently passed laws requiring a conviction before property can be forfeited. (Although at least in New Mexico, police agencies appear to be straight-up ignoring the law.) ... The most common form of property seized is cash. In fact, carrying large amounts of cash is now in and of itself viewed as suspicion of criminal activity.
Here's a link to the ERAD contract, signed in early April of this year. EARD is listed as registering with the Texas Secretary of Sate in January 2014. Its president is Jack Williams, who counts among his clients "multiple federal and state law enforcement agencies including DHS, ICE, and USSS". His bio says: "In 2012, ERAD Group, Inc. was awarded a prime development contract to provide the Department of Homeland Security, Advanced Technology Directorate, with a prepaid access card reader solution to process prepaid debit cards at time of arrest." He is also the president of Paymentcard Services Inc. Williams appears to be the sole officer/director for both companies.


Briefcase

Kafkaesque authoritarianism: Student arrested, suspended and charged with larceny for stealing 65 cent carton of milk


Scene from the 1962 Orson Welles film 'The Trial' based on the novel by Franz Kafka
In Virginia a middle school student named Ryan Turk was arrested and then suspended from school for allegedly stealing a $0.65 carton of milk. Officials claim that the student tried to conceal the carton of milk and are also charging him with larceny. This charge could impinge Turk's record which could also lead to further difficulties down the line.


Comment: "Like a dog!" he said, it was as if the shame of it should outlive him." ― Franz Kafka, The Trial


According to the arresting officer, Turk was acting "erratic" while he arrested the middle school student and Turk claims he "yanked away from him" and told him that the officer wasn't his father. Turk was later searched for drugs in the principal's office because of his behavior which involved laughing and fidgeting.

Both of these things contributed to Turk not only being suspended for theft but also for being "disrespectful".

But there's a problem: Ryan Turk is on the free lunches program.

So even if we could excuse the way that Turk was treated for "stealing" a milk carton, the reality is that there was no justification for the Graham Park Middle School to keep these charges against him. Instead, the school has decided to reinforce the rough handling of the student by appealing to "cellphone use" and "disrespect".


Comment: "I see, these books are probably law books, and it is an essential part of the justice dispensed here that you should be condemned not only in innocence but also in ignorance." ― Franz Kafka, The Trial


Arrow Up

Terror and injustice: FBI planning to increase its policy of radicalization, entrapment, and plotting terror

© Lucas Jackson / Reuters
Federal Bureau of Instigating Terrorism.
Sending someone undercover was once a last resort for the FBI - despite popular law dramas where it seems to happen every few weeks. But the FBI's use of undercover agents in the fight against Islamic State has some questioning its legality.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has significantly increased its use of agents and informants in terrorism cases according to a report from the New York Times. In fact, the FBI uses it so intensively that it is used in about two out of three prosecutions related to suspects believed to be supporting the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL).

When agents and informants go undercover, they pose as anything from weapons and arms dealers to jihadists or just friends on social media. However, defense lawyers, civil right activists and Muslim leaders have all compared the tactics used by the FBI to entrapment.

"They're manufacturing terrorism cases," Michael German, a former undercover agent with the FBI and national security law researcher at New York University's Brennan Center for Justice, told the New York Times, adding: "These people are five steps away from being a danger to the United States."

Comment: Further reading:


Hearts

Turkish artists express their condolences to slain Russian pilot's family in a letter

© Sputnik/ Maks Vetrov
Turkish artists taking part in the Art Football 2016 festival in Moscow penned a condolence letter to the relatives of a Russian pilot slain in Syria.

Teams from 16 nations took part in the 6th Artists' World Championship, also known as the Football and Music Festival "Art-Football", that was held in Moscow from May 27 until June 5.

During the festival, members of the Turkish team requested the event's organizers to deliver a condolence letter written by them to the relatives of Oleg Peshkov, a Russian combat pilot who was killed in Syria after his plane was downed by a Turkish F-16 fighter jet.