A Week in Review - July 17th, 2015

The federal government wants to track children of military and DoD personnel, according to a homeschooling advocacy group: "A few weeks ago, an amendment was quietly placed in the House of Representative’s 2016 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) H.R. 1735. This amendment added a new Section 574, which authorizes the DOD to conduct a feasibility study on tracking children of military personnel and civilian DOD employees by whether they attend a private school, public school, or homeschool. This language was not included in the Senate’s version of the NDAA."

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is extorting over $1M for "VIP agents" attending the annual Burning Man festival.  The festival, held in the Nevada Desert since 1991, has jumped through an ever-increasing list of regulatory hoops to satisfy the BLM over the years, literally building a city just for the week-long event, and gradually banning guns, dogs, driving, and fireworks.  Now, however, the BLM is refusing to issue the event a permit to use public land unless organizers pay more than $1 million to provide agents with an air-conditioned compound with couches and hot water, flush toilets, and - not kidding - 24-hour access to soft-serve ice cream.

An artist has developed a downloadable font to show you just how "suspicious" you look to the government. It recognizes trigger words - now numbering over 40,000 - that would mark your communication for further scrutiny by an intelligence agency and visibly flags them.  Try it - and be horrified at just how much you "have to hide" after all.

The NYPD is, by policy, shredding evidence in a lawsuit against them, over the issuance of legally insupportable summonses just to meet quotas.  The attorney suing the police force states, "Police Lt. Stevelle Brown... has destroyed text messages in which he denied a cop time off for failing to meet goals for traffic summonses, Sutton charges. She also points to an exchange from an officer identified only as Sgt. Carty, who sternly admonished a cop for failing to issue enough seatbelt summonses.... Sutton has introduced emails from Capt. Andrew Benjamin... 'This has to stop it is ridiculous to have 50 + hours with only one arrest,' Benjamin wrote."

90% percent of people found in a cache of NSA intercepts were not the intended surveillance targets but were caught in a net the agency had cast for somebody else.  The data collected from these non-targets was intensely personal, and even included the IP addresses of people merely "lurking," or reading without posting, in the same online forums as an intended target.

Two members of a ranching family were convicted under the "Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996" for setting controlled burns - with the BLM's clearance, since it would have eradicated an invasive weed species - that spread to federal land, consuming 139 acres in 2001 and 1 acre in 2006.  They were sentenced to three months and a year and a day, respectively, both losing their Second Amendment protections and the father being stripped of his pilot's license.  Now, despite the fact that they have served their terms, the federal government wants them resentenced to an additional minimum of five years because that was the minimum outlined by the Act. Further, the BLM has filed a civil suit, with an offer to settle for $400,000 in damages.  However, they refuse to issue the grazing permits which would allow the cattle operation to generate sufficient income, and the settlement agreement states that BLM has the first right to purchase any of the ranch land sold to pay the bill.

The Senate Judiciary Committee submitted a measure that would require social media to report "posts or other user content related to 'explosives, destructive devices, and weapons of mass destruction' or other things that could indicate 'actual knowledge of terrorist activity.'" Twitter has not taken a position on the legislation, Facebook applauded the proposal, and critics contend that the measure could catch huge numbers on non-terrorists in the U.S. surveillance dragnet. Writer Kristen Anderson noted, "What is a threat anyway? Is someone who opposes Obamacare a threat? What if they are planning a large demonstration that will interrupt D.C. traffic? What if they are organizing a strike that would cut off healthcare to hundreds of thousands of people?'"

Documents obtains by Judicial Watch under the Freedom of Information Act show that Lois Lerner met with attorneys from (and the chief of) the Public Integrity Section of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and a representative from the FBI in 2010 to discuss "the possibility of 'a three-way partnership among the DOJ [Department of Justice], the FEC [Federal Election Commission], and the IRS' to 'prevent prohibited activity by these [conservative] organizations.”  The IRS transmitted 21 disks containing 1.25 million pages of highly confidential tax information to the FBI.... The House Committee of Oversight and Government Reform was 'astonished to learn…that these 21 disks contained confidential taxpayer information protected by federal law' that could not lawfully be turned over to the FBI without meeting very specific requirements which were unmet.