Thursday, February 25, 2016

Islamic State video makes direct threats against Mark Zuckerberg, Jack Dorsey

Jessica Guynn USA Today

SAN FRANCISCO — A video purportedly made by supporters of the Islamic State makes direct threats against Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey for combating terrorism on their Internet platforms.
The 25-minute propaganda video was released by a group calling itself "the sons of the Caliphate army." In it, photographs of both technology leaders are targeted by bullets. The video was spotted by Vocativ deep web analysts on the social media service Telegram, which is used by ISIS.

The extremist group says it's responding to growing efforts by Facebook and Twitter to suspend accounts and remove posts that the social media services say incite violence and promote terrorism.

The video shows hackers changing profile accounts and posting Islamic State propaganda. They allege they hacked more than 10,000 Facebook accounts, more than 150 Facebook groups and more than 5,000 Twitter profiles. "Many of these accounts have been given to supporters," the video says.

Twitter declined to comment. Facebook could not be reached for comment.
Internet companies are under growing pressure to more effectively police the presence of the extremist group  in the wake of the terrorist attacks in Paris and in San Bernardino County.

The Islamic State — also known as ISIL or ISIS — use popular Internet services such as Twitter and Facebook to spread propaganda, to attract and train new recruits and celebrate attacks.

"We don’t want people doing that kind of stuff on Facebook," Zuckerberg said on stage at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this week. 

"If we have opportunities to basically work with governments and folks to make sure that there aren’t terrorist attacks then we’re going to take those opportunities and we feel a pretty strong responsibility to help make sure that society is safe," Zuckerberg said.

Twitter said earlier this month that it suspended 125,000 accounts connected to the Islamic State over the past six months. It was the first time Twitter shared specifics on the number of accounts it has deleted. 

Twitter's strategy is working, according to a study from George Washington University.

But Veryan Khan, editorial director at the Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium, a private firm that collects information on terrorism, says though Twitter may have made a dent, "the bounce back for the Islamic State will be fairly effortless."

"The Islamic State has been preparing their sympathizers for this type of event. Loads of Just Paste Its and Dump To bins as well as 'how to' videos have been circulating over this month on how to create dozens of backup accounts easily including creating false working phone numbers for those using Tor," she said.

Sons of the Caliphate is a small offshoot of the Cyber Caliphate that analysts speculate is a "teen" or "apprentice" division.

Khan says this is the first time an Islamic State-linked group has made a threat — at least publicly — against Zuckerberg. But these groups have made similar threats against Twitter in the past. 

After Twitter began cracking down on terrorists in 2014, it received death threats, the company's then CEO told Vanity Fair at the time.

Costolo said ISIL fighters threatened to "assassinate" him and other Twitter employees.

"That's a jarring thing for anyone to deal with," he said.

In March 2015, the Islamic State threatened Dorsey, Twitter's co-founder and chairman, and all Twitter employees for shutting down accounts. The group claimed that Dorsey and Twitter had started a "war" with Islamic State and Twitter employees had "become an official target to ISIS soldiers and supporters."

A slide in the recently released video read: "To Mark and Jack, founders of Twitter and Facebook and to their Crusader government. You announce daily that you suspended many of our accounts. And to you we say: Is that all you can do? You are not in our league. If you close one account we will take 10 in return and soon your names will be erased after we delete you (sic) sites, Allah willing, and will know that we say is true. #Sons_Caliphate_Army."

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Kurdish forces rescue 16-year-old Swedish girl from Islamic State

By The Washington Post

Kurdish fighter Irbil, Iraq

BAGHDAD — Kurdish special forces have rescued a 16-year-old Swedish girl from Islamic State militants near the Iraqi city of Mosul, Kurdish authorities said Tuesday.

The operation, which took place Feb. 17, came after Sweden requested assistance in finding and freeing the girl.
She will be transferred to Swedish authorities to return home “once necessary arrangements” are made, the semi-autonomous Kurdish region’s security council said in a statement.
Some 300 Swedes have left to join extremist groups in Iraq and Syria over the past three years, according to Sweden’s security agency. Recruiters often prey on teenagers, grooming them online or in the community.
The girl was “misled” and lured to Syria by an Islamic State member in Sweden, before later travelling to Mosul, the Kurdish statement said.
She was the same teenager that Swedish press reports said had gone missing in Syria after running away from her foster home with her 19-year-old boyfriend last year, according to a Kurdish security official, who declined to be named because of the sensitivity of the information.
Swedish press reports said the girl, then 15, disappeared from Boras, near Gothenburg, on May 31, and was six months pregnant at the time. The Kurdish statement, however, gave no mention of a baby.
The girl told her family that she was married in an Islamic ceremony to her boyfriend and they had joined the al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra in Syria.
However, the couple was captured by the Islamic State in northern Aleppo in August, the family said.
Her mother told Sweden’s Expressen newspaper that the Islamic State had not recognized the couple’s marriage and separated them. She talked to her family after being loaned a cell phone, the newspaper said. It is unclear how she ended up near Mosul, in neighboring Iraq.
The rescue was a purely Kurdish operation, the Kurdish security official said.
In October, Kurdish and U.S. special forces carried out a joint raid near the Iraqi town of Hawijah, freeing 69 prisoners but failing to find Kurdish soldiers they hoped to rescue.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Fuck ISIS Bumberstickers

Bumberstickers 10" x 3" "FUCK ISIS" with American flag background.

$5.00 each
$0.00 shipping and handling. (free shipping)

Allow 7 to 10 days for delivery.

How to order:

Use the Paypal button at the bottom of this site. Order as many as you like. Orders will be shipped to the address we get from Paypal with your order.

Or if you have a different address or multiple addresses you'd like them sent to, no problem. Once you've placed your order on Paypal simply call or email the addresses you want your order sent to.

949-288-1173 (text only)

I am also selling these on EBay if you prefer to place your order there.

Would you like to sell these at your business? No problem, ask me about my wholesale prices.

Active or retired military or LE ask me about your discounts.

God bless America!

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

The Canadian Model Fighting ISIS In Syria Tells Us What It's Like to Be On the Frontline

By Allan Smith                      

Hanna Bohman has been fighting ISIS in Syria on and off for most of 2015, and she hasn’t been impressed.

She said that as fighters, the Islamic State militants have “mostly been a disappointment.”

“Their numbers don’t seem that big and they’re eager to run away,” she told INSIDER in an email. “I suspect most of the experienced fighters have been consolidated in Mosul and Raqqa, and that’s where the big fights will be.”

She said that ISIS has successfully made themselves seem bigger and scarier than they are in reality through social media.

Although the group recently claimed responsibility for terrorist attacks that killed hundreds in Paris, Beirut, Baghdad, and Ankara and over the Sinai Peninsula, its promise of statehood is quickly diminishing, The New York Times reports.

“They’re not some giant, holy juggernaut of ultimate damnation for unbelievers,” she said. “They’re just a bunch of filthy, mouth-breathing, knuckle-dragging pigs who run away at the first sign of resistance. Really nothing more than a thorn in the side.”

A former Canadian model who’s also known as Tiger Sun, Bohman, 46, is one of dozens of Westerners who have joined up with Kurdish nationalist groups to fight the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. She was personally inspired to fight after watching an ISIS propaganda video featuring a Canadian who had gone to fight with the jihadists, she told the Daily Mail.

After recovering from a near-fatal motorcycle accident last year, Bohman, who had no prior combat experience, left Vancouver for Iraq in March. She joined up with the YPJ, the female fighting battalion of the People’s Protection Unit, a Kurdish nationalist fighting force.

Joining the YPJ was easy, she said, much easier than one would expect traveling from the West into the middle of war would be. Upon arriving in Iraq, she stayed in a safe house for a few days before taking a boat across the Tigris River into northeastern Syria.

She then received very brief training and was assigned to her first unit, though it didn’t see much action. Her role consisted mostly of watching over territory, and the only real threat was being the target of a suicide truck, according to Bohman. But once she transferred to a more experienced unit, she began to see fighting almost instantly.

“That’s where I was first shot at by a sniper while walking from the outhouse to our quarters,” she said. “We were a mobile [unit], so we moved around quite a bit and were part of a large offensive south of Til Temir.”

The most intense fighting she experienced was in the next unit she was a part of, albeit for a brief two days in June. Just one hour after joining the brigade, a German who was fighting with the group said they would be going to the front.

“It was a small group of six westerners and I was the only woman… but all of us, including the commander, were itching for a fight, so we went a bit rogue,” she said. “We became lost trying to find the front and thought we had accidentally pushed into Daesh country when we started seeing dead people lying on the roads. The drivers were frantically calling for help on their phones and radios, and the tension was the highest I’ve ever felt as we had no idea where Daesh was.”
The group made a “mad retreat” to get their bearings. The following morning, the six were ordered to take the city of Til Abyad, a northern Syrian city near the Turkish border that had been under ISIS’s control. Bohman, who posts videos of her endeavors with the YPJ on YouTube, uploaded a video prior to the start of the mission.

She laughed at how absurd it seemed.

But contrary to popular belief, life in Syria isn’t all about fighting, she explained. About “95%” of her time is spent sleeping, eating, cleaning, socializing, or being on guard.

“It’s not what people expect,” she said. “We’re not constantly locked in a life or death battle with bullets and mortars flying back and forth.”

Another misconception is that the real fight is against ISIS, she said.
“The real enemy is who Daesh works for,” she said, claiming that it’s really “Turkey’s genocidal [President Recep Tayyip] Erdogan… who will eventually turn Turkey into a dictatorship while trying to kill off the Kurds.”

Claims that Turkey supported the Islamic State go back more than a year, and it’s well-known that the Turkish government views the rise of Kurdish nationalism as a bigger threat to its security than the rise of ISIS.

After the Turkish military shot down a Russian plane last week, Russian leaders claimed that they have proof that Erdogan’s own family was involved in smuggling ISIS oil into Turkey. Erdogan said he would resign if that claim was proven true, and insists that his regime is working to diminish the threat of ISIS in the region. US officials said their NATO allies have been “great” in the fight against the Islamic State.

According to Bohman, Westerners who left their countries and bypassed their governments to fight ISIS are what has inspired her most since joining the YPJ.

“There aren’t many of us, but we represent a genuine concern for humanity,” she said. “We believe in doing the right thing, in stopping evil, and helping the helpless. We are the tip of a sword made up of people from all around the world who will no longer wait for their governments to fail again. We are [bringing] the change we want to see.”

“Six of us against what was supposed to be more than 100 Daesh, but nonetheless, we jumped into a tank and off we went,” she said.

As they closed in on the battle, her unit met up with 12 Kurds who were already in position near a bridge leading into the city.

The Kurds would have to take that bridge in order to take the city.

“We spent the rest of the day fighting for that bridge, which was also the last time a sniper would take a shot at me, the bullet passing so close over my head I felt it,” she said. “We held the bridge over night while reinforcements arrived, and the next day they took the city, which by now had mostly been abandoned by Daesh.”

She briefly returned to Canada after the battle, stricken by malnutrition after having lost almost 30 pounds since joining the YPJ. But almost as soon as she returned to Vancouver, she was itching to get back to the fight in Rojava, the name given to what is considered Western Kurdistan. She went back in early September and remains with the YPJ today.

Saudi Arabia: Friend or Foe?

By Ted Galen Carpenter

One striking feature of the first debate featuring the top tier GOP presidential candidates was how many of them described Saudi Arabia and its allies in the Persian Gulf as “friends” of the United States.  And clearly that is a bipartisan attitude.  Obama administration officials routinely refer to Saudi Arabia as a friend and ally, and one need only recall the infamous photo of President Obama bowing to Saudi King Abdullah to confirm Washington’s devotion to the relationship with Riyadh.

It is a spectacularly unwise attitude.  As Cato adjunct scholar Malou Innocent and I document in our new book, Perilous Partners: The Benefits and Pitfalls of America’s Alliances with Authoritarian Regimes, Saudi Arabia is not only an odious, totalitarian power, it has repeatedly undermined America’s security interests.

Saudi Arabia’s domestic behavior alone should probably disqualify the country as a friend of the United States.  Riyadh’s reputation as a chronic abuser of human rights is well deserved. Indeed, even as Americans and other civilized populations justifiably condemned ISIS for its barbaric practice of beheadings, America’s Saudi ally executed 83 people in 2014 by decapitation.

In addition to its awful domestic conduct, Riyadh has consistently worked to undermine America’s security.  As far back as the 1980s, when the United States and Saudi Arabia were supposedly on the same side, helping the Afghan mujahedeen resist the Soviet army of occupation, Saudi officials worked closely with Pakistan’s intelligence agency to direct the bulk of the aid to the most extreme Islamist forces.  Many of them became cadres in a variety of terrorist organizations around the world once the war in Afghanistan ended.

Saudi Arabia’s support for extremists in Afghanistan was consistent with its overall policy.  For decades, the Saudi government has funded the outreach program of the Wahhabi clergy and its fanatical message of hostility to secularism and Western values generally.  Training centers (madrassas) have sprouted like poisonous ideological mushrooms throughout much of the Muslim world, thanks to Saudi largesse.  That campaign of indoctrination has had an enormous impact on at least the last two generations of Muslim youth.  Given the pervasive program of Saudi-sponsored radicalism, it is no coincidence that 16 of the 19 hijackers on 9-11 were Saudi nationals.

Riyadh also has shown itself to be a disruptive, rather than a stabilizing, force in the Middle East.  Not only has Saudi Arabia conducted military interventions in Bahrain and Yemen, thereby eliminating the possibility of peaceful solutions to the bitter domestic divisions in those countries, the Saudi government helped fund and equip the factions in Syria and Iraq that eventually coalesced to form ISIS.  Although Saudi officials may now realize that they created an out-of-control Frankenstein monster, that realization does not diminish their responsibility for the tragedy.

In light of such a lengthy, dismal track record, one wonders why any sensible American would regard Saudi Arabia as a friend of the United States.  We do not need and should not want such repressive and untrustworthy “friends.”

'Dark money' grows in politics


CHERRY HILL, N.J. (AP) — Just before Rhode Island voters chose their governor last year, a group in Ohio transferred $730,000 from secret donors to another Ohio organization that spent the money on television ads aimed at defeating Gina Raimondo, the Democrat who eventually won a tight race.

More than a year later, it's still not clear where the money came from or why two Ohio-based groups would want to influence an election 600 miles away. The same groups also funneled anonymously donated cash for major political ad campaigns in Arkansas and Illinois.

Rhode Island's disclosure laws are tougher than most, but this was a classic case of "dark money" keeping its secrets despite requirements that donors who pay for political ads reveal themselves to the public.

With the presidency at stake in 2016 as well as a dozen governor's races, 34 U.S. Senate races, all 435 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives and scores of mayoral races, state legislative seats and ballot initiatives, this kind of unlimited anonymous spending is expected to grow, and handling it has become the biggest campaign finance challenge for states nationwide.

Some legislatures are trying to collect and publish the sources of these donations, but most states allow independent groups to spend unlimited cash on political ads with little transparency.

At least one state, Wisconsin, is moving away from disclosure: Republican Gov. Scott Walker signed laws Wednesday that blur the lines between the activity of candidate campaigns and groups that — in almost all other states — are supposed to act independently.

This could set back democracy if other states follow suit, said John Pudner, the founder of Take Back Our Republic, a group based in Auburn, Alabama that argues for tighter campaign finance laws from a conservative perspective.

"Disclosure is important and fair," Pudner said. "If we want to get people away from their cynicism, let them know everything."

Political funding has been shifting to independent groups from individual campaigns since the U.S. Supreme Court's 2010 Citizens United ruling, which removed caps on how much corporations, unions and interest groups can spend on advocacy communications that do not specifically call for the election or defeat of candidates.

The ruling explicitly encouraged transparency: "Prompt disclosure of expenditures can provide shareholders and citizens with the information needed to hold corporations and elected officials accountable for their positions and supporters," Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote.

But the federal government doesn't require such disclosure, and most states don't either. Even in states that do have been stumped by webs of financing that obscure the sources.

Of $850 million spent on state-level political broadcast TV ads in 2014, $25 million — or about 4 percent — came from groups that do not have to disclose their donors, according to an analysis by the Center for Public Integrity of data from the advertising tracking firm Kantor Media/CMAG.

That's twice as much as 2010, when a similar number of state offices were on ballots.

In the 2012 congressional and presidential elections, dark money topped $300 million.

If last year's mayor's race in Newark, New Jersey, is any guide, anonymous cash will be a far bigger factor in 2016 races at all levels, nationwide. Independent spending dwarfed what the candidates' authorized committees spent, and while much of it was duly reported as coming from unions, much also came from advocacy groups not required to identify individual donors.

Most of this money pays for television commercials, but it also funds automated calls to voters, fliers through the mail, and advertising in newspapers, radio and the Internet.

Denise Roth Barber, managing director of the Helena, Montana-based National Institute on Money In State Politics, calls it a "shell game," with donors giving anonymously to one group that contributes to other organizations so that the original sources never appear on campaign finance filings.

In one of the most high-profile cases, California's political ethics commission and attorney general sued to force out-of-state groups to report who donated the $15 million they spent on the eve of the 2012 general election. Public records requests by the media then revealed that much of the money had come from wealthy Californians, and had been funneled through a network of conservative groups in failed attempts to defeat a tax-hike initiative backed by Gov. Jerry Brown and to pass an anti-union initiative.

Rhode Island has required groups running advocacy ads to disclose top donors since 2012. The Mid America Fund complied by reporting that the Republican Governors' Association provided some of the money for the ads in 2014, and that most of it came from another Ohio group, the Government Integrity Fund. The RGA discloses its donors. The Government Integrity Fund does not.

The spending — about half what each major party candidate spent during the last two months before Election Day — flooded Rhode Island's solitary media market in the final two weeks with ads accusing Raimondo of "gambling with our retirement."

The Rhode Island Democratic Party told the state elections board that the group should have disclosed its original donors. The board's executive director, Robert Kando, told The Associated Press that the issue will be considered in January at the request of Common Cause, which has pushed for more donor disclosure around the country.

The Government Integrity Fund's president, Ohio lobbyist Thomas Norris, did not return messages from the AP.

State Sen. Juan M. Pichardo, a Democrat who sponsored Rhode Island's disclosure law, told the AP that the group is "violating the intent and the law."

"It's deceiving," Pichardo said. "People should know where the money is coming from, what sort of influence and the intent is from the organization and the donors."
California, Montana, Maryland and a few other states have approved more requirements aimed at forcing independent groups to disclose their original funding sources, and several will get their first tests in 2016. But other states have quashed campaign finance overhauls.

New Mexico State Sen. Peter Wirth, a Democrat from Santa Fe, has twice seen the disclosure bills he sponsored win bipartisan Senate approval, only to die in the House.

"Groups on both sides kind of come out of the woodwork and are convinced that somehow this is going to change the rules and not work for them," Wirth complained.

The result for New Mexico: No limits on coordination between independent groups and candidates, and a big jump in dark money. Common Cause said spending by nonprofits and independent groups — some with anonymous donors — jumped from $6 million in 2006 to $14 million in 2012, and is growing fast.

Re-Homing Throw-Away(s)

By Megan Twohey
NEW YORK (Reuters) - A woman who used the Internet to take in unwanted adopted children faces years in prison after a federal jury convicted her Friday on charges of kidnapping and transporting a minor across state lines for the purpose of engaging in sexual activity.

The woman, Nicole Eason, 37, was charged after a 2013 Reuters investigation exposed an illicit network where parents offered children they no longer wanted to strangers they met online. Eason’s husband, Calvin, 46, pleaded guilty last month to the same charges.

Through a practice called private re-homing, the Easons had taken custody of at least six boys and girls from 2006 through 2009, lying about their identities to the children’s adoptive parents. Reuters found other examples of re-homing across the United States, with no government oversight and at great risk to children.

The news agency revealed that the Easons had created fictitious credentials.

They never disclosed that Nicole Eason’s biological children had been permanently removed from their custody years earlier, after social workers concluded the couple had neglected one child and physically abused the other.
As a result of the Reuters investigation, federal authorities arrested the Easons in Arizona last spring. They were charged in U.S. District Court in Illinois with kidnapping two of the girls that they took in through re-homing - one in 2007 and the other in 2008. They also were charged with taking one of the girls across state lines with the intent to engage her in sexual activity.

The girl, who turned 8 while she was in the custody of the Easons, told authorities that both Calvin and Nicole molested and physically abused her. The other victim said she was expected to sleep next to a naked Nicole Eason but was not molested.

In both cases, the parents who transferred custody of the children to the Easons had connected with Nicole Eason through Yahoo groups. Parents used the online bulletin boards to discuss their difficulties caring for children they had adopted, and Reuters also found many cases in which parents sought to offload those children to strangers. During a five-year period, Reuters found that on a single Yahoo group, a child was advertised for re-homing on average once a week.

Yahoo removed the message boards after the news agency brought them to the company’s attention.

Living in Illinois at the time, the Easons presented themselves as a loving, stable family, dedicated to the well-being of children in their care. In reality, they had lost custody of both of their biological children. After authorities had removed their second child, a newborn, a sheriff’s deputy wrote in his report that the Easons “have severe psychiatric problems as well as violent tendencies.”

No U.S. federal law specifically prohibits re-homing, and Reuters found that state laws restricting custody transfers and advertising of children rarely prescribe criminal sanctions and are frequently ignored.

In response to the Reuters investigation, at least six states have passed new restrictions on advertising children, transferring custody, or both.

Obama Denied the Death Star, But He Still Spends Billions on Star Wars

Written by  Brian Merchant

Everybody loves the White House’s tongue-in-cheek response to the petition demanding it build a Death Star—it’s clever, endearingly nerdy, and comes replete with a couple bona fide lols.

But the avalanche of blog posts that fell forth in the wake of the official response failed to mention one unfortunate and obvious parallel: that Obama actually continues to fund Star Wars, the bloated and mostly useless multibillion dollar missile defense system that’s been hovering around in one form or another since the Reagan administration. While the administration jests that it won’t sponsor the Death Star in the interest of keeping the budget under control, it continues to pump billions into a system that experts say aims to “hit bullets with bullets”—and often misses.
The original ‘Star Wars’ weapons program, of course, was Ronald Reagan’s infamous Strategic Defense Initiative, which aimed to build a satellite-regulated “missile shield” that could automatically dismantle incoming nuclear projectiles. It was launched after his equally infamous 1983 speech testifying to the superior nuclear capabilities of the Soviet Union. 

In that speech, Reagan warned that the Russians had surpassed U.S. missile technologies, leaving us vulnerable to nuclear strike. (Reagan was advised and encouraged by Edward Teller, who had developed the hydrogen bomb, and loved outlandish technological ideas.) But he never truly linked his plans to Lucas’s films, which were basically the equivalent of Beatles of the era. That honor goes to Edward Kennedy, who aimed to criticize Reagan by suggesting the concept of building a missile shield in space better belonged to science fiction.

History Today’s Peter Kramer explains:
when Senator Edward Kennedy first attached the `Star Wars' label to Reagan's vision in comments made on the floor of the Senate the day after the speech, it was to accuse the President of `misleading Red Scare tactics and reckless Star Wars schemes'. Kennedy's comments were meant to point out the fantastic nature of Reagan's missile defense program and the real dangers of his escalation of the arms race into space. Yet, despite these critical intentions, the `Star Wars' label was so evocative and ambivalent that it was immediately embraced by some of Reagan's supporters, and henceforth the program, which did not acquire its official - and rather uninspiring title Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) until the spring of 1984, was universally known as `Star Wars'.
Indeed, the project proved expensive and infeasible, though missile defense silos were nonetheless constructed and some tests with laser-missile targeting carried out.

No missiles were ever fired, however, and the Soviet bloc crumbled and the Cold War ended. But instead of drying up, the SDI just shifted purviews and changed focus over the years and through multiple presidencies: going strong through Reagan, petering out during Bush 1, getting downsized and transformed into the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization under Bill Clinton, and eventually resuscitated by George W. Bush in the wake of 9/11. It was then that Bush allocated billions in funding to a new bureau, the Missile Defense Agency, which continues to receive billions every year to maintain and enhance our never-used missile silos.

So today, we’ve got a multi-billion dollar missile defense system —altogether, it’s believed that well over $100 billion has been spent on the program, according to the Fiscal Times. $80 billion of that was in the last decade alone. Now, it’s not quite $850 quadrillion, but still—that’s a lot of cash down the tubes for a system that experts say might not even be effective. See, the kicker is that nobody really knows whether Star Wars would work or not. According to a 2011 report in Bloomberg, which detailed the most recent round of defense contract approvals for the program, there’s plenty of reason for skepticism:
No one knows whether the $35 billion program would work. It has never been tested under conditions simulating a real attack by an intercontinental ballistic missile deploying sophisticated decoys and countermeasures. The system has flunked 7 of 15 more limited trials, yet remains exempted from normal Pentagon oversight and so far has been spared the cuts Congress is demanding in other areas of federal spending.

Indeed. Just last year, the Missile Defense Agency requested $8 billion for its annual operating budget. For a program whose success rate in test runs is less than 50%.
But at least Obama scrapped the more outlandish vestiges of the system—the Kinetic Energy Interceptor, a system designed to halt approaching ballistic missiles midflight. Bush’s plan to build a missile shield around Europe, sometimes dubbed Star Wars II, or son of Star Wars, was too costly and unrealistic.
So Obama scrapped it in 2009. The secretary of defense killed $6 billion in funding for the project over the protests of Republicans, and that was that. The dream of thwarting our enemies from space was snuffed out like Alderan.

So what do we still have? Too much. The shield program, formally called the Ground-Based Midcourse Defense program (GMB), is operated by Boeing. If it were to work correctly, American satellites would “identify the hot plume of an enemy missile within seconds of launch, alert radar installations and relay tracking data to kill vehicles ready to intercept the incoming warhead about 200 miles (322 kilometers) in space.”
“Kill vehicles,” hm? Pray tell what we've got to send humming through missile-free skies? Well, the one currently in use is built by Raytheon, and it’s worth $30 million dollars. It’s a 120 lb spacecraft that’s just about four feet long. 
Reports Bloomberg: “It looks like a telescope mounted on a pack of propane gas cylinders and is supposed to be able to pick out a target from decoys and debris and smash into it while flying at a combined closing speed of 6.2 miles a second. It has no explosive -- the collision alone would do the damage."
It has also failed to work in two of the trials it’s been subjected to. Meanwhile the underground silos that house on-ground anti-missile rockets are moldy and home to leaking pipes. Billions must be spent to keep them in working condition—should they actually work when and if they’re ever needed. 

There are plenty of boondoggles in our nation’s military history; but none quite so persistent and literally useless as the Star Wars missile defense program.
Where else have we devoted $100 billion to technology that has literally never been put to use, and has never been proven to be effective even if it were?

Come to think of it, we’ve gotten about as good a return on investment on Star Wars as the Empire got on its Death Star.

Obama's Oil tax

As things stand now, with federal taxes, state taxes, county tax, sales tax, property taxes, car tax, gas tax, phone taxes, etc. “They” take 4 months of our wages every year in taxes. For that kind of money we should have the best schools on the planet, right? But every year 30 to 50% of our kids get left behind. Let me repeat, taxes take 4 months of your wages away from you every year. That's true under Republicans or Democrats! 

A $10-a-barrel tax on oil would translate into higher prices for gasoline at the pump.

The White House on Thursday said President Barack Obama will propose a $10-a-barrel tax on each barrel of oil to pay for clean transportation projects. The tax, which will be part of the budget request Obama sends to Capitol Hill next week, would be paid by consumers at the pump.

“This proposal will trickle down and be a $10 per barrel tax on motorists—or 60 to 95 cents per gallon on refined fuels,” said Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum analyst at “To me it’s clear: this is not something oil companies are going to absorb.”

On Friday, West Texas Intermediate crude  settled at $30.89 a barrel.

And it won’t just impact gasoline prices, but also diesel, jet fuel, heating oil and others, DeHaan said. “It could stifle production to some degree, though to a lesser degree as long as the tax applies to imported oil as well.”

Earlier this month, BP PLC  said it would cut another 3,000 jobs by the end of 2017 after reporting a full-year loss of $5.2 billion. Royal Dutch Shell  this week reported its worst profits in over a decade.

Obama is adamant about the advantages the tax will create. “We’ll look back and say that was a smart investment. It’s right to do it now, when gas prices are really low,” “I can slip the tax through…without many realizing that they’re paying the government more to fuel their vehicles and warm their houses because oil and gasoline prices are low right now” he said Friday.

On Friday afternoon, the average price for regular gasoline at pump stood at $1.747 a gallon, according to GasBuddy. That’s down 40.5 cents from last year’s average of $2.152. Gasoline futures also dropped below $1 a gallon on Friday for the first time since late 2008.


Tax loopholes allow Big Oil companies to ratchet up their annual earnings at the expense of American taxpayers. Well-placed campaign contributions to their congressional allies preserve these undeserved handouts.  Daniel J. Weiss and Valeri Vasquez have the detailed numbers in a CAP repost.

The cost of Big Oil’s loopholes
  • $4 billion: Cost of Big Oil tax breaks in 2011.
  • $2 billion: Cost of Big Oil tax breaks eliminated by S. 940.
  • $77 billion: Cost of Big Oil tax breaks from 2011 to 2021.

Big Oil profits pile up

  • $902 billion: Total profits for the five biggest oil companies in the United States, 2001-2010 (in 2011 dollars).
  • $32 billion: Total Big Oil earnings, first quarter of 2011. Exxon Mobil alone accounted for $10.7 billion of that figure.
  • 38 percent: Big Oil’s first-quarter-2011 profit increase over the first quarter of 2010.
  • 28 percent: Increase in gasoline prices compared to 2010.
  • 53 percent: Portion of their profits that both Exxon Mobil and ConocoPhillips spent repurchasing stock to drive up their companies’ share values in the first quarter of 2011.
  • $8 billion: The amount of first-quarter profits the big five companies spent on stock buybacks.

Low effective tax rates for Exxon Mobil

  • 17.6 percent: Average effective federal corporate tax rate paid by Exxon Mobil, 2008-2010.
  • 20.4 percent: Average American individual federal effective tax rate in 2007 (the last year of available data).

Oil campaign cash and votes to close loopholes

  • $273,500: Big Oil campaign contributions to Republican senators and representatives in the first quarter of 2011.
  • $7,000: Big Oil campaign contributions to Democratic senators and representatives in the first quarter of 2011.
  • 2: House Republicans who voted to cut tax loopholes for Big Oil during debate on H.R. 1230.
  • 147: House Democrats who voted to cut tax loopholes for Big Oil during debate on H.R. 1230.
  • 0: House Democrats who voted for $30 billion in Medicare cuts in the FY 2012 budget resolution that was passed by the House on April 15.
  • 4: Republicans who voted against $30 billion in Medicare cuts in the FY 2012 budget.
  • 44: Senators who voted to close Big Oil tax loopholes and use savings to offset health care costs.

Public supports ending tax breaks

What oil tax dollars could buy

  • $21 billion reduction in the federal budget deficit by enactment of the Close Big Oil Tax Loopholes Act (S. 940), which would close tax loopholes for the big five oil companies over the next 10 years.
  • $30 billion for Medicare if tax loopholes were eliminated for all Big Oil companies. This would offset the Medicare cuts in the fiscal year 2012 budget resolution that was passed by the House on April 15.
  • $1 billion could pay the salaries of 18,000 high school teachers earning an average of $55,000 per year.
  • $1 billion could pay for 251,000 Pell Grants to aspiring college students. These grants are essential to help these scholars pay for tuition, and averaged $3,984 apiece in 2011.