Is Privacy Dead? 4 Government and Private Entities Conspiring to Track Everything You Do Online and Off

The police-corporate surveillance “complex” is being consolidated, drawing ever-closer corporate tracking and government surveillance.
September 10, 2012  |

Americans’ personal privacy is being crushed by the rise of a four-headed corporate-state surveillance system.  The four “heads” are: federal government agencies; state and local law enforcement entities; telecoms, web sites & Internet “apps” companies; and private data aggregators (sometimes referred to as commercial data warehouses).

Conventional analysis treats these four domains of data gathering as separate and distinct; government agencies focus on security issues and corporate entities are concerned with commerce. Some overlap can be expected as, for example, in case of a terrorist attack or an online banking fraud.  In both cases, an actual crime occurred.

But what happens when the boundary separating or restricting corporate-state collaboration, e.g., an exceptional crime-fighting incident, erodes and becomes the taken-for-granted operating environment, the new normal?  Perhaps most troubling, what happens when the traditional safeguards offered by “watchdog” courts or regulatory organizations no longer seem to matter?  What does it say that the entities designed to protect personal privacy rights seem to have either been effectively “captured” or become toothless tigers?

In President Eisenhower’s legendary 1960 farewell address, he warned of the potential power of the military-industrial complex.  Ike’s 20th century formulation represented the intertwining of the U.S. military and private contractors to achieve two complementary goals.  First, it sought to help corporations make guaranteed, cost-plus profits and to provide glide-path retirement programs for the military brass.  Second, it sought to influence Congress and thus shape foreign policy, helping fulfill the then just-emerging global imperialist strategy.

Today’s corporate-state surveillance complex demonstrates a comparable intertwining of U.S. policing forces and private companies in the monitoring of domestic life.  It is being implemented thanks to the technology fruits of a half-century of the military-industrial complex.  The Defense Department created the Internet and what it can do in Yemen it can do in Oakland. The global war on terrorism is coming home!

In the wake of the Great Recession, we are living through a great economic and social restructuring.  The global world order is shifting and, accordingly, America’s class and social relations are being reordered.  Occupy Wall Street’s formulation of the social crisis, the 1% vs. the 99%, has become the shorthand descriptor of this restructuring of American economic relations.  No time is better to impose high-tech social disciple then one marked by economic and social crisis.  The unanswered question is obvious:  Are we witnessing the formation of the high-tech police state?

* * *

To reiterate, the four-headed corporate-state surveillance hydra consists of (i) federal agencies; (ii) state and local law enforcement entities; (iii) telecoms, web sites & Internet “apps” companies; and (iv) private data aggregators.  The following overview sketches out the parameters of the ever-growing domestic spy state, how it’s being implemented and some of the more egregious examples of abuse of public trust if not the law.

#1 — Federal Surveillance

The attacks of 9/11 and the subsequent (and endless) “war on terror” continue to provide the rationale for an ever-expanding domestic security state.  The leading agencies gathering data on Americans (and others) include the National Security Agency (NSA), Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Department of Defense (DoD) as well as the FBI and IRS.  In the wake of 9/11, the NSA took the lead in federal domestic cyber surveillance, but in 2010 the NSA ceded this authority to the DHS.

Personal information is gathered from a host of both public and private sources.  One source is “public records” that can range from birth, marriage and death records; court filings, arrest records, driver’s license information, property ownership registrations (e.g., car or house), tax records, professional licenses and even Securities and Exchange Commission filings.  Another source is “private” records from ChoicePoint and LexisNexis as well as credit reporting agencies such as Equifax, Experian Information Solutions and Trans Union LLC.

CONTINUE READING:

Absolute Asinine Laws

Life in Prison for Hemp

José Peña brought some roadside weeds home from Kansas. Cops decided it was reefer, and a Texas court sentenced him to life in prison – without the evidence. It took a decade for Peña to get back some of the pieces of his life.

By Jordan Smith, Fri., March 16, 2012

Life in Prison for Hemp

José Peña was tired as he drove south toward Houston on the morning of Sept. 27, 1998. Following a quick trip north to Kansas in a rented van – to pick up the brother of a distant cousin’s son – he was on his way home to Houston, where he lived with his wife and four children. It was the kind of favor Peña often did for friends and family, no matter how distant the relation – and the kind of favor that irritated his wife. “I was tired, and I was trying to get home,” the 50-year-old recently recalled. “My wife was mad at me for doing favors for other people” when he could instead be home.

That morning, just before 8am, Peña was cruising south down I-45, a little more than two hours from home. He was driving in the right-hand lane through Leon County when he passed a state trooper sitting in his car on the grass median. He thought nothing of it – just another Texas trooper on a long and nondescript stretch of highway – until he noticed the trooper pull out onto the road and follow him. The officer, Mike Asby, a veteran member of the Texas Department of Public Safety, drove in the left lane until his car was parallel with Peña’s. Peña looked over at Asby. “He pulled up next to me, and I looked at him because I wasn’t not going to make eye contact” with an officer whom Peña thought was definitely checking him out for whatever reason.

Although Peña steadfastly maintains that he wasn’t doing anything wrong or unusual, Asby would later testify that Peña caught his attention because he was driving more slowly than the rest of traffic in a van caked with mud; when the van “weaved across the center stripe and also across the solid yellow line on the shoulder,” Asby testified in January 2003, he had to take action. “You’re required to stay in a single lane of traffic,” he said. He activated his lights and pulled Peña over.

Within the hour, Peña would be in handcuffs in the back of the trooper’s car, headed to the county jail in Centerville on a charge of marijuana possession. Nearly five years later, Peña would be convicted and sentenced to life in prison for possession of what the state said turned out to be 23.46 pounds of freshly cut marijuana that Peña was transporting in the back of the muddy blue van. Although Asby testified that this was not a normal highway drug bust – “normally,” he testified, marijuana moves north from Houston, already “dried out, cured, and ready to be sold” – he was certain that what he found casually laid out in the back of the van was pot because it smelled like pot – and he knows pot when he smells it. “It’s something that you learned in [28] years of experience being on the road?” prosecutor Whitney Smith (now Leon Coun­ty’s elected D.A.) asked Asby.

“Yes, sir,” Asby replied.

Just Trust Us

There are at least two problems with the official story of Peña’s arrest and prosecution. First, Peña is adamant – and has been since 1998 – that what he was transporting was not marijuana, but actually hemp, pot’s non-narcotic cousin. Peña says he found the plants growing wild in Kansas and cut them down, thinking that he could use the stems and leaves in the various craft projects he made with leather and wood in his garage workshop; there was no doubt in Peña’s mind that what he was transporting was not marijuana. The second, and eventually more decisive problem with the official story of the Peña bust, is that prior to his trial, officials with the Department of Public Safety lab in Waco, where the plants were taken for testing, completely destroyed all of the case evidence – all 23.46 pounds of plant material – and then also lost the case file with all of the original documentation of the lab’s work on the case. By the time Peña was finally tried – more than four years later – there was absolutely no evidence to show the jury; instead, the state relied completely on the “experience” of Asby and of Waco lab supervisor Charles Mott (now retired) to persuade jurors that what they say they saw and tested was actually marijuana.

It worked.

That is, it worked until late last year, when Peña’s conviction was finally overturned by the Court of Criminal Appeals, the state’s highest criminal court, and Leon County subsequently dismissed the charges for good. In the intervening decade, however, Peña’s case became a political hot potato, catching the attention of judges and lawyers across the state who watched as the 10th Court of Appeals, based in Waco, played tug-of-war with the Austin-based CCA over the power of the Texas Constitution, and whether it affords citizens greater rights and protection against state power than does the U.S. Constitution.

It’s a conflict that has left the state of Texas divided and may mean – at least for the time being – that persons tried for crimes in one part of the state will be afforded greater protection from prosecutorial errors or malfeasance than are others. Frankly, says Keith Hampton, an Austin defense attorney who represented Peña just before his case was dismissed, you just “don’t see this happen very often.” Ulti­mate­ly, whether the protections gleaned from the Texas Constitution by the 10th Court will remain in force and be applied to all Texans is still to be determined.

Weeds, Not Weed

Peña had a knack for creating handcrafted leather and wood items that sold like hotcakes, he says, at flea markets in and around Houston. He made personalized shellacked plaques and leather key chains with popular first names spelled out in tiny beads, and at a dollar a key chain, they sold well. So when he first saw the hemp plants growing on the roadside near Manhattan, Kan., they gave him an idea. He would take the plants – which, to an untrained eye, look exactly like marijuana plants – press the leaves, and then use them on plaques or affixed to the small leather wallets that he also had become expert at making. He recognized these as “volunteer” hemp plants – they grow wild across the country, reminders of the days when hemp farming was commonplace and even, during World War II, encouraged by the feds as supporting the war effort. By the Kansas roadside, they were scraggly and abundant. When he pulled into the Tuttle Creek State Park outside Manhattan, and saw the plants growing everywhere, he “loaded … up.”

Indeed, Peña thought nothing of the fresh-cut plants that he’d laid out in the back of the blue van he was driving. He knew – partly from experience of having smoked pot when he was younger, and partly because he knew that hemp was once a major agricultural commodity – that the plants were nothing more than weeds that looked like weed.

However, that’s not how Asby saw it. To him, it was clear that one thing, and only one thing, was taking place. Peña was moving a large amount of marijuana to Houston – as unusual as that might be, Asby acknowledged.

Peña repeatedly told Asby that the plants were hemp, and his insistence clearly gave some pause to Asby and the two backup officers who soon joined him. The three men stood next to the van pondering the notion that a plant could look like, but not actually be, marijuana. “I … questioned them, I said, ‘Well, he says it’s not marijuana,'” Asby recalled in court. “I knew that there was a substance called hemp and I was asking them. … And I asked them, ‘You ever heard of something like marijuana, just hemp, that is legal to have?'” he continued. “I don’t know that there is a legal kind. That was the question I was asking the officers: ‘Have you ever heard of this … where marijuana was cut and it turns out to be legal?'”

In the end, Asby was unpersuaded. “I just know marijuana smells like marijuana,” he testified in 2003. “And I have never found anything that I thought was marijuana that wasn’t.” He cuffed Peña and hauled him off to jail.

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Absolute Asinine Laws

 

Life in Prison for Hemp

José Peña brought some roadside weeds home from Kansas. Cops decided it was reefer, and a Texas court sentenced him to life in prison – without the evidence. It took a decade for Peña to get back some of the pieces of his life.

By Jordan Smith, Fri., March 16, 2012

Life in Prison for Hemp

José Peña was tired as he drove south toward Houston on the morning of Sept. 27, 1998. Following a quick trip north to Kansas in a rented van – to pick up the brother of a distant cousin’s son – he was on his way home to Houston, where he lived with his wife and four children. It was the kind of favor Peña often did for friends and family, no matter how distant the relation – and the kind of favor that irritated his wife. “I was tired, and I was trying to get home,” the 50-year-old recently recalled. “My wife was mad at me for doing favors for other people” when he could instead be home.

That morning, just before 8am, Peña was cruising south down I-45, a little more than two hours from home. He was driving in the right-hand lane through Leon County when he passed a state trooper sitting in his car on the grass median. He thought nothing of it – just another Texas trooper on a long and nondescript stretch of highway – until he noticed the trooper pull out onto the road and follow him. The officer, Mike Asby, a veteran member of the Texas Department of Public Safety, drove in the left lane until his car was parallel with Peña’s. Peña looked over at Asby. “He pulled up next to me, and I looked at him because I wasn’t not going to make eye contact” with an officer whom Peña thought was definitely checking him out for whatever reason.

Although Peña steadfastly maintains that he wasn’t doing anything wrong or unusual, Asby would later testify that Peña caught his attention because he was driving more slowly than the rest of traffic in a van caked with mud; when the van “weaved across the center stripe and also across the solid yellow line on the shoulder,” Asby testified in January 2003, he had to take action. “You’re required to stay in a single lane of traffic,” he said. He activated his lights and pulled Peña over.

Within the hour, Peña would be in handcuffs in the back of the trooper’s car, headed to the county jail in Centerville on a charge of marijuana possession. Nearly five years later, Peña would be convicted and sentenced to life in prison for possession of what the state said turned out to be 23.46 pounds of freshly cut marijuana that Peña was transporting in the back of the muddy blue van. Although Asby testified that this was not a normal highway drug bust – “normally,” he testified, marijuana moves north from Houston, already “dried out, cured, and ready to be sold” – he was certain that what he found casually laid out in the back of the van was pot because it smelled like pot – and he knows pot when he smells it. “It’s something that you learned in [28] years of experience being on the road?” prosecutor Whitney Smith (now Leon Coun­ty’s elected D.A.) asked Asby.

“Yes, sir,” Asby replied.

Just Trust Us

There are at least two problems with the official story of Peña’s arrest and prosecution. First, Peña is adamant – and has been since 1998 – that what he was transporting was not marijuana, but actually hemp, pot’s non-narcotic cousin. Peña says he found the plants growing wild in Kansas and cut them down, thinking that he could use the stems and leaves in the various craft projects he made with leather and wood in his garage workshop; there was no doubt in Peña’s mind that what he was transporting was not marijuana. The second, and eventually more decisive problem with the official story of the Peña bust, is that prior to his trial, officials with the Department of Public Safety lab in Waco, where the plants were taken for testing, completely destroyed all of the case evidence – all 23.46 pounds of plant material – and then also lost the case file with all of the original documentation of the lab’s work on the case. By the time Peña was finally tried – more than four years later – there was absolutely no evidence to show the jury; instead, the state relied completely on the “experience” of Asby and of Waco lab supervisor Charles Mott (now retired) to persuade jurors that what they say they saw and tested was actually marijuana.

It worked.

That is, it worked until late last year, when Peña’s conviction was finally overturned by the Court of Criminal Appeals, the state’s highest criminal court, and Leon County subsequently dismissed the charges for good. In the intervening decade, however, Peña’s case became a political hot potato, catching the attention of judges and lawyers across the state who watched as the 10th Court of Appeals, based in Waco, played tug-of-war with the Austin-based CCA over the power of the Texas Constitution, and whether it affords citizens greater rights and protection against state power than does the U.S. Constitution.

It’s a conflict that has left the state of Texas divided and may mean – at least for the time being – that persons tried for crimes in one part of the state will be afforded greater protection from prosecutorial errors or malfeasance than are others. Frankly, says Keith Hampton, an Austin defense attorney who represented Peña just before his case was dismissed, you just “don’t see this happen very often.” Ulti­mate­ly, whether the protections gleaned from the Texas Constitution by the 10th Court will remain in force and be applied to all Texans is still to be determined.

Weeds, Not Weed

Peña had a knack for creating handcrafted leather and wood items that sold like hotcakes, he says, at flea markets in and around Houston. He made personalized shellacked plaques and leather key chains with popular first names spelled out in tiny beads, and at a dollar a key chain, they sold well. So when he first saw the hemp plants growing on the roadside near Manhattan, Kan., they gave him an idea. He would take the plants – which, to an untrained eye, look exactly like marijuana plants – press the leaves, and then use them on plaques or affixed to the small leather wallets that he also had become expert at making. He recognized these as “volunteer” hemp plants – they grow wild across the country, reminders of the days when hemp farming was commonplace and even, during World War II, encouraged by the feds as supporting the war effort. By the Kansas roadside, they were scraggly and abundant. When he pulled into the Tuttle Creek State Park outside Manhattan, and saw the plants growing everywhere, he “loaded … up.”

Indeed, Peña thought nothing of the fresh-cut plants that he’d laid out in the back of the blue van he was driving. He knew – partly from experience of having smoked pot when he was younger, and partly because he knew that hemp was once a major agricultural commodity – that the plants were nothing more than weeds that looked like weed.

However, that’s not how Asby saw it. To him, it was clear that one thing, and only one thing, was taking place. Peña was moving a large amount of marijuana to Houston – as unusual as that might be, Asby acknowledged.

Peña repeatedly told Asby that the plants were hemp, and his insistence clearly gave some pause to Asby and the two backup officers who soon joined him. The three men stood next to the van pondering the notion that a plant could look like, but not actually be, marijuana. “I … questioned them, I said, ‘Well, he says it’s not marijuana,'” Asby recalled in court. “I knew that there was a substance called hemp and I was asking them. … And I asked them, ‘You ever heard of something like marijuana, just hemp, that is legal to have?'” he continued. “I don’t know that there is a legal kind. That was the question I was asking the officers: ‘Have you ever heard of this … where marijuana was cut and it turns out to be legal?'”

In the end, Asby was unpersuaded. “I just know marijuana smells like marijuana,” he testified in 2003. “And I have never found anything that I thought was marijuana that wasn’t.” He cuffed Peña and hauled him off to jail.

Page:   1   |   2   |   3   |   All

If you think this is bad you haven’t seen ANYTHING yet…

 

 

 

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If you think this is bad you haven’t seen ANYTHING yet…

If there is ONE thing that I have learned from this life it is that you must be able to adapt to CHANGE.

Just when you think your life is settled into what it is going to be until you die, something comes along and blows it right out of the water. And then what? You start over…

You can NEVER depend upon things to be as you would want them to be. It just will not happen.

Even the thriftiest of investors have lost their lot in a matter of minutes and those who never had two cents have come to be millionaires. And that is just the financial side of it.

Birth, realization of impending death, unexpected death, marriage, divorce, loss of parents, loss of children either by death or other situations are but a few of the changes in life that we can depend upon.

The empty nest syndrome sometimes happens not because your children grow up and move away to their own lives, but because they for whatever reason do not like your life anymore and remove themselves from it. That equates to a death. The death of a marriage of not only a spouse, but the marriage that is entwined within the entire family.

Life throws so many curve balls at us that it is impossible to predict just what will happen next. But the ONE thing that you can ALWAYS depend upon is the unexpected.

Change…If you cannot live through change in this life you will never be able to make it.

My favorite self quotation when times are rough is, “if you think this is bad you ain’t seen nothing yet”, which has in my life always turned out to be very accurate …

and my favorite all around quote is “THIS TOO SHALL PASS”…

And for better or worse you can depend on that much to be true – “This too shall pass”, whether it be into another new, better, worse or indifferent phase you WILL pass. That is just life.

Expect the unexpected and be pleasantly surprised when it doesn’t happen…

Be prepared for the worse when it DOES happen…

That is the hard part. Being prepared. You CANNOT be prepared for everything that will happen in your life. It is just not feasible to analyze all the expected and unexpected happenings of your life and be prepared for them physically, emotionally and financially. In fact, most of the time the “changes” that occur do so in a moment’s notice not giving us the warning of what is to happen so as to be able to “prepare” for the change.

Sometimes, a loss can be a gain. Or, otherwise said-turn your lemons into lemonade.

You have to at some point, either sooner or later, face the facts put in front of you, figure out what you “personally” believe in the most, what you can do the best with your aptitude, attitude and abilities and last but definitely not least—your life experiences, and then find a way to turn that into your “quest for life”.

That, I believe, is the key to what our life is supposed to be upon this Earthly planet.

It is intended to be an educational experience in all facets of human life from birth to death and beyond.

If “two heads are better than one” then just think how much information has been acquired from all of the people’s that have lived upon this “god given” planet since it first came into existence.

Yes, we are here for a reason, and yes, most of us will bear many crosses before we pass from this life to the next and yes, I do believe in “the next life” whether it be in a “heavenly home” or another round of “take him to Earth” again.

The best thing that we can do for ourselves in this life is to learn to accept the changes as they happen and to encompass them into our living experiences to move ourselves forward toward our ultimate goal of accomplishment or, “what you believe in the most”, so as to complete the cycle of life for which you were sent here for. Anything less is unacceptable. Giving up is just not an option in life, only in death.

So in order to remain happy, we must learn to suck up our disappointments in this life and apply our life experiences toward a goal of common good for all, including ourselves. You cannot give up your own belief’s to appease another and remain happy. It just does not happen that way. But if you are fighting a war toward a common good, even when the battles are at their roughest, you can remain happy because you are fighting for and working toward a “greater good” for all…

So whenever you are down and out think to yourself, “Damn, if it is this bad now, what the hell else is going to happen”, and “Damn, this too shall pass”, and get on with it.

ShereeKrider

3/18/2012

Sheree Krider, ‘et al’….

Monday, March 14, 2011

Coming of Age in the NWO

Coming of Age in the NWO
I remember the day, 9/11/2001, when our lives changed forever.
I was awoken by a phone call from a friend at about 9:05 am.
Her voice was franctic as she screamed in the phone, “We are being
attacked!”…. As I tried to wake up, she said “Just turn on the New’s”, “NOW!”
I scurried out of bed and held on to the walls to get to the Den where my
Mother was sitting in her rocking chair and as I looked at the TV I see
NYC and smoke billowing everywhere.  Chaos was breaking out all around.
My Mom, Bless her Heart, was “watching a movie”, or so she thought.
She had Alzheimer’s and was not able to catch on to what was happening
just by viewing the TV.  As I started to explain what I thought had happened,
here came the next plane….right into the Trade Center…again.  At that point
I KNEW we were under attack.
Dazed and confused, a thought came to mind.  My Father had
said right before his death in June of 2001, that “He didn’t know what else to do,
except to just leave and watch everything go to Hell”…
Now I was beginning to see what He was talking about.  I was glad He was not
here to see it, (or maybe he was).
He was a WWII Veteran. A Medic.  He had been around the World
from 1941-1945, from the Philippines to Italy, Germany and beyond. He had definitely
seen his share of War and misery in his lifetime.  A child of the Great Depression of
1929, he had lost his Mother at age 2, in 1919 to the Avian Flu.  They lived in
Stephensport, KY a small town on the Ohio River.
~The first memory that really sticks to my mind of my Father was when I
was about 5 years old.  He taught me how to “turn over a dead body”…..
“Just cross the ankles and twist, and they will turn right over”, he said.
We practiced this, playfully, on the living room floor.~
Then, my thoughts turned to what would happen in our immediate future.
O.K., I thought.  I’ve got Mom, myself, my husband (who was at work and probably did
not know about what had just happened), my two daughter’s, two grandson’s and their father
who lived with us, and my Aunt who was my Father’s sister who lived a block away.
What do I do first?
I picked up my cell phone and called my husband.  I explained what I could at the time
and told him to “get his ass home!”.  He responded and was home in a short time.
Fortunately for us, there was some cash in the house and a checkbook with funds
available.  By eleven o’clock that morning I was at “Sam’s Club” purchasing a
generator, plenty of canned and dry food supplies, water and household needs.
I brought home over a thousand dollars worth of supplies and placed them in plastic
tubs and put them in the center of the basement in a closet.  To this day, I still
have some supplies there.
By late that afternoon we were all perched in front of “FOX News” watching the
devastation that our Country had succumb to.  This went on for days, weeks and even
month’s.
A lot has happened in all of our lives since that fateful day in September of 2001.
I learned, as my Father had before me, to “read between the lines”.  Don’t believe
anything you hear, and only half of what you actually see, and when a crisis happens,
analyze the situation, adapt to it and overcome the hardship.
The lessons learned from 9-11-01 have been magnificent to say the least.
The New World Order had begun to take hold.
The first thing I learned is to not trust the Government.  No matter what they say or do
for us there will always be an underlying reason for their “compassion”.
Whether it be the Patriot Act, which effectively overturned the Bill of Rights, the right to pain relief, which resulted in the death and/or addiction of many people to narcotics, including Oxycontin,  the Cannabis/Hemp conspiracy, which controls how we can legally use (or not use) the Marijuana/Hemp plant for personal, health or religious purposes, the Health Care Bill which is now in the process of being initiated which will pre-determine what care each of us will or can receive, and the RFID (Radio Frequency Identification Device) which was originally designed by the IBM Corporation for use in Hitler’s regime during WWII and HAARP which has yet to be discovered by the common people just what it may be capable of doing to us or on our planet Earth.
These are just a few of the high profile NWO discoveries.  The NWO continues to and will continue to encompass much, much more than “we the people” will be advised of prior to the
execution of their plans.
THE TIME IS NOW! To begin the fight for our God given right to survive on this planet.

For if we wait another year, It will be to late