Saturday, December 1, 2012

US power grid vulnerable to just about everything. Why isn't this a shocker?

U.S. Power Grid









Friday, November 30, 2012

By Jen Alic, As Washington hunts ill-defined al-Qaeda groups in the Middle East and Africa, and concerns itself with Iran's eventual nuclear potential, it has a much more pressing problem at home: Its energy grid is vulnerable to anyone with basic weapons and know-how.

Forget about cyber warfare and highly organized terrorist attacks, a lack of basic physical security on the US power grid means that anyone with a gun—like disgruntled Michigan Militia types, for instance--could do serious damage.

For the past two months, the US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has been tasked with creating a security strategy for the electric grid and hydrocarbon facilities through its newly created Office of Energy Infrastructure Security. So far, it's not good news.

"There are ways that a very few number of actors with very rudimentary equipment could take down large portions of our grid," warns FERC Chairman Jon Wellinghoff. This, he says, "is an equal if not greater issue" than cyber security.

FERC's gloom-and-doom risk assessment comes on the heels of the recent declassification of a 2007 report by the National Academy of Sciences.

The National Academy of Sciences on 14 November warned that a terrorist attack on the US power grid could wreak more damage than Hurricane Sandy. It could cause massive blackouts for weeks or months at a time. But this would only be the beginning, the Academy warns, spelling out an "end of days" scenario in which blackouts lead to widespread fear, panic and instability.

What they are hinting at is revolution—and it wouldn't take much.

So what is being done to mitigate risk? According to FERC, utility companies aren't doing enough. Unfortunately, FERC does not have the power to order utilities to act in the name of protecting the country's energy infrastructure. Security is expensive, and more than 90% of the country's grid is privately owned and regulated by state governments. Private utilities are not likely to feel responsible for footing the bill for security, and states may not be able to afford it.

One key problem is theoretically a simple one to resolve: a lack of spare parts. According to the National Academy of Sciences, the grid is particularly vulnerable because it is spread out across hundreds of miles with key equipment not sufficiently guarded or antiquated and unable to prevent outages from cascading.

We are talking about some 170,000 miles of voltage transmission line miles fed by 2,100 high-voltage transformers delivering power to 125 million households.

"We could easily be without power across a multistate region for many weeks or months, because we don't have many spare transformers," according to the Academy.

High-voltage transformers are vulnerable both from within and from outside the substations in which they are housed. Complicating matters, these transformers are huge and difficult to remove. They are also difficult to replace, as they are custom built primarily outside the US. So what is the solution? Perhaps, says the Academy, to design smaller portable transformers that could be used temporarily in an emergency situation.

Why was the Academy's 2007 report only just declassified? Well, its authors were worried that it would be tantamount to providing terrorists with a detailed recipe for attacking and destabilizing America, or perhaps for starting a revolution.

The military at least is preparing to protect its own power supplies. Recently, the US Army Corps of Engineers awarded a $7 million contract for research that demonstrates the integration of electric vehicles, generators and solar arrays to supply emergency power for Fort Carson, Colorado. This is the SPIDERS (Smart Power Infrastructure Demonstration for Energy Reliability and Security), and the Army hopes it will be the answer to more efficient and secure energy.

Back in the civilian world, however, things are moving rather slowly, and the focus remains on the sexier idea of an energy-crippling cyberattack.

Last week, Senator Ed Markey (D-Mass.) urged House Energy and Commerce Committee chairman Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) to pass a bill—the GRID Act--which would secure the grid against cyberattacks.

"As the widespread and, in some cases, still ongoing power outages from Superstorm Sandy have shown us, our electric grid is too fragile and its disruption is too devastating for us to fail to act," Markey wrote. "Given this urgency, it is critical that the House act immediately in a bipartisan manner to ensure our electrical infrastructure is secure."

This bill was passed by the House, but has failed to gain any traction in the Senate.

FERC, of course, is all for the bill, which would give it the authority to issue orders and regulations to boost the security of the electric grid's computer systems from a cyberattack.

But it's only a small piece of the security puzzle, and FERC remains concerned that authorities are overlooking the myriad simpler threats to the electricity grid. These don't make for the easy headlines, especially since they are not necessarily foreign in nature.
This article was provided to the ARRA News Service by James , Editor of a leading online energy news site. Its news and analysis covers all energy sectors from crude oil and natural gas to solar energy and hydro.

Tags: United States, Power Grid, vulnerable, attacks, cyberattack To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News: Service. Thanks!
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Verne Strickland Blogmaster   USA DOT COM

A simple letter to the editor that could get you killed in some countries. But this is America.

By Verne Strickland / December 1, 2012

I've been critical many times of the political drift of coverage in the STAR-NEWS of Wilmington, NC -- our hometown daily paper.

Too liberal, ignores the conservative side of issues, doesn't do enough stories on skinny people. But I've got to confess a slight course correction on my part. Actually I'm seeing a more balanced perspective from the paper, part of the HALIFAX MEDIA GROUP.

I still gripe about the selection of stories, and the spin on some of those that do make the cut. But I've seen worse times for conservative readers and chronic curmudgeons like me. 

On the editorial pages, there's a fair variety of responsible commentators -- conservative, moderate, and liberal. Also, Letters to the Editor offer some very valuable nuggets of wisdom, direct from the citizens of our community. I like to pirate one every now and then for use with attribution in my blog -- USA DOT COM. The ones I do post are invariably on the conservative side.

Here's a recent letter written by a reader in Wilmington. It was titled, "Government too big." You gotta know that caught my eye. I was not disappointed. Here's the letter:


Here are some sobering facts for those of you that support the liberal agenda of more spending and bigger government: One hundred years ago government spending was 2 percent of the Gross National Product. Over the last 50 years, government spending has averaged 20.2 percent of GNP, while revenue collected by the government has trended around 18.1 percent, regardless of the top tax rate. 

It should be clear to even the most ideological leftists that this imbalance of spending and revenue is unsustainable. As some great philosopher once said, there is no free lunch. 

Our nation has ignored this irrefutable fact and is rapidly going broke. Our great wealth and large middle class was built on free-market principles, capitalism and limited government. Since the mid-1960s we have systematically attacked the free market and capitalism with onerous and ever increasing regulations and look to replace this great engine of economic growth with bigger and bigger government – a government that is increasingly oppressive to individual liberty.

Is a growing, centralized and more powerful government what our founders envisioned for our nation or what they so valiantly fought against?

Peter A. Cerra Sr., Wilmington


Pretty good, huh? I like that. Voice of the people, straight from the heart, unedited, unedited, unvarnished. 

There are a lot of countries today where an expression like this against the government would get you killed. We have to think about that to realize the kind of nation we are blessed to call home. How we compare to others. 

President Obama and liberal Democrats in Washington don't seem comfortable with a country like this. They campaign incessantly for bigger government, less accountability, higher taxes, crippling deficits, suffocating regulations, world government, turning our future over to the United Nations, shackling our fighting military, weakening U.S. defenses, and turning a blind eye to the wanton murder of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans in Benghazi.

And, lest we forget, they seen bent upon throwing God out of Washington and most everywhere else.

Friends, as I sit here writing this, I am shaking my head at the madness Obama has introduced to America. Each day brings another nasty surprise. It has to stop.

Some patriotic Americans, who say they have been pushed to the limit, talk of extreme measures. Right now it's just talk.

"Bev" continues to add to her "legacy" with last-minute Dix deal.

Forward to a Friend

I have recently been informed that Governor Perdue will present the Council of State
a proposal to lease the Dorothea Dix property to the City of Raleigh for $500,000 a 
year for 99 years. The deal will be made public only hours before the Council of State
votes on this Tuesday

This piece of land is worth hundreds of millions of dollars. Governor Perdue is 
suggesting a lease that would pay pennies on the dollar and would continue long 
after all the current members of the Council of State are gone.  

If you haven’t already, please contact members of the Council of State.

The deal violates all sense of transparency and accountability in government. 
A vote for this deal is a vote for dirty, seedy backroom politics and a vote against 
accountability. Where are the public hearings? 

While we encourage all members of the Council of State to vote against the 
Dorothea Dix deal, we are particularly disturbed by reports that State Treasurer
Janet Cowell and Auditor Beth Wood may support the Dix deal. We have been 
impressed with these two public servants and their commitment to protecting 
taxpayers. They normally operate openly and honestly. Click here to encourage 
them to keep a positive record of accountability.

We, of course, do not know all the details, but that is the point.  Taxpayers are 
about to get a raw deal and will not even know about it until it is over.
This is a horrible deal for state taxpayers. I urge you to contact the Council of 
State members at once to reject this boondoggle.

Click here to let the Council of State know where you stand.


Dallas H. WoodhouseState DirectorAmericans for Prosperity –North Carolina

Friday, November 30, 2012

CBS Radio Building hit by gunfire. At least 3 bullets strike office. No one reported hurt.

Verne Strickland Blogmaster / November 30, 2012

By Ryan Crowe & L.P. Phillips,

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Shots ring out as someone opens fire on a Dallas office building, and a window belonging to NewsRadio 1080 KRLD is hit.
The bullets went through the outside panes of glass on two floors of the 12-story CBS Radio building off Central Expressway at Fitzhugh Avenue.
One of the windows hit belongs to KRLD promotions director Matt Stacks, who was startled by the sound about 3:15 Friday afternoon.
Stacks initially thought a bird hit the 5th floor window.  “I just heard a loud boom. I turned around and looked at my window and noticed it started splintering out and saw some stuff falling from the window above.”

KRLD’s L.P. Phillips talks with Stacks shortly after the incident:

The bullet shattered the entire outer window of the office located at the corner of the KRLD Newsroom.
An image from the office of attorney Pete Schulte, whose outer window was shattered by a bullet Friday afternoon.
An image from the office of attorney Pete Schulte, whose outer window was shattered by a bullet Friday afternoon.
A close-up image from the office of attorney Pete Schulte, whose outer window was shattered by a bullet Friday afternoon.
A close-up image from the office of attorney Pete Schulte, whose outer window was shattered by a bullet Friday afternoon.
A view of the office of CBS Radio's Matt Stacks, whose window was hit by a bullet Friday afternoon.
A view of the office of CBS Radio’s Matt Stacks, whose window was hit by a bullet Friday afternoon.
A view of the office of CBS Radio's Matt Stacks, whose window was hit by a bullet Friday afternoon.
A view of the office of CBS Radio’s Matt Stacks, whose window was hit by a bullet Friday afternoon.
The view from Chopper 11 of workers removing windows at the CBS Radio building that were hit by bullets Friday afternoon.
The view from Chopper 11 of workers removing windows at the CBS Radio building that were hit by bullets Friday afternoon.
The view from Chopper 11 of a 105.3 The Fan sign put up in a window at the CBS Radio building that was hit by a bullet Friday afternoon.
The view from Chopper 11 of a 105.3 The Fan sign put up in a window at the CBS Radio building that was hit by a bullet Friday afternoon.
A wide image of the CBS Radio building that was hit by at least 3 bullets Friday afternoon.
A wide image of the CBS Radio building that was hit by at least 3 bullets Friday afternoon.
A worker removing a window in the KRLD newsroom hit by a bullet Friday afternoon at the CBS Radio building in Dallas.
A worker removing a window in the KRLD newsroom hit by a bullet Friday afternoon at the CBS Radio building in Dallas.
Two other bullets hit the window directly above the KRLD newsroom.  That office belongs to former police officer and current attorney Pete Schulte.  “It sounded like a rifle.  It was clearly a loud bang, and as soon as I heard the loud bang the glass shattered in my office.
Nobody was hurt, but the fact the incident happened on a Friday off a busy highway like Central Expressway concerns Schulte.
“If it happens in the middle of the night that’s one thing, but I sit in this office every day.  To have a gunshot in the middle of the afternoon with so many cars passing by, that’s unnerving.”
Schulte believes the shots came from the direction of Central Expressway, and were either fired from the freeway, or from the frontage road that the building faces.
Phillips talks with Schulte:

Schulte is known for representing high-profile clients like Pilar Sanders, the estranged wife of former Cowboys star Deion Sanders.
It is not clear if Schulte or any of the CBS Radio stations were targets of the shooting.  In addition to KRLD, the building also houses offices for and radio stations 105.3 The Fan, 103.7 Lite FM, 100.3 Jack FM, 98.7 KLUV and Mega 107.5 FM on various floors.
105.3 The Fan’s ‘RAGE’ talks about the shooting on air Friday afternoon:

Dallas Police are on the scene investigating. will have updates as the story develops.
(©2012 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Susan Rice reportedly has financial stake in Canadian tar sands industry -- direct link to Keystone XL pipeline.


 Verne Strickland Blogmaster / November 29, 2012
Susan Rice Tar Sands 
Share on Google+ 
By OnEarth's Scott Dodd:

Posted: Updated: 11/29/2012 6:42 pm EST

Susan Rice, the candidate believed to be favored by President Obama to become the next Secretary of State, holds significant investments in more than a dozen Canadian oil companies and banks that would stand to benefit from expansion of the North American tar sands industry and construction of the proposed $7 billion Keystone XL pipeline. If confirmed by the Senate, one of Rice’s first duties likely would be consideration, and potentially approval, of the controversial mega-project.

Rice's financial holdings could raise questions about her status as a neutral decision maker. The current U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Rice owns stock valued between $300,000 and $600,000 in TransCanada, the company seeking a federal permit to transport tar sands crude 1,700 miles to refineries on the Texas Gulf Coast, crossing fragile Midwest ecosystems and the largest freshwater aquifer in North America.

Beyond that, according to financial disclosure reports, about a third of Rice’s personal net worth is tied up in oil producers, pipeline operators, and related energy industries north of the 49th parallel -- including companies with poor environmental and safety records on both U.S. and Canadian soil. Rice and her husband own at least $1.25 million worth of stock in four of Canada’s eight leading oil producers, as ranked by Forbes magazine. That includes Enbridge, which spilled more than a million gallons of toxic bitumen into Michigan’s Kalamazoo River in 2010 -- the largest inland oil spill in U.S. history.

Rice also has smaller stakes in several other big Canadian energy firms, as well as the country’s transportation companies and coal-fired utilities. Another 20 percent or so of her personal wealth is derived from investments in five Canadian banks. These are some of the institutions that provide loans and financial backing to TransCanada and its competitors for tar sands extraction and major infrastructure projects, such as Keystone XL and Enbridge’s proposed Northern Gateway pipeline, which would stretch 700 miles from Alberta to the Canadian coast.

In 2010, for instance, when Rice and her husband held at least $1.5 million in Royal Bank of Canada, the institution was labeled Canada's most environmentally irresponsible company by the Rainforest Action Network for its support of tar sands development. Public pressure from environmentalists and Canada’s First Nations tribes convinced the bank to adopt new standards regarding socially conscious lending.

“It’s really amazing that they’re considering someone for Secretary of State who has millions invested in these companies,” said Bill McKibben, a writer and founder of the activist groups and Tar Sands Action, which have organized protests against the Keystone XL project. “The State Department has been rife with collusion with the Canadian pipeline builders, and it’s really distressing to have any sense that that might continue to go on.” 

Emails obtained by an environmental group last year show what critics call a “cozy and complicitous relationship” between State Department officials and a lobbyist for TransCanada, who was also a former deputy campaign director for current Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's failed 2008 presidential bid. The agency also assigned an environmental impact review of the Keystone project to a company with financial ties to TransCanada.

As ambassador to the United Nations, Rice has not been directly involved in the State Department’s Keystone XL review, which came to a head at the end of 2011. After initially indicating it would likely approve TransCanada’s application, the State Department ordered a review of alternate routes to avoid putting critical water sources in Nebraska at risk. The move, which officials said would likely push the approval process back to the first three months of 2013, was an attempt to spare the Obama administration a politically risky decision just before an election year.

Greenlighting the pipeline would have hurt the president with environmental advocates -- more than 1,200 people were arrested in anti-Keystone protests led by McKibben at the White House in Summer 2011. But denying it outright would have given Republicans an election year attack line, saying Obama had cost the nation much-needed jobs (although independent studies have shown that TransCanada’s job creation claims for the pipeline are greatly exaggerated). As it was, the president still received significant heat, and Mitt Romney pledged to approve the pipeline on Day 1 if he had won the election.

Were she to become Secretary of State, Rice would be in charge of the new environmental review process and would be in a position to decide whether to issue TransCanada a permit for sections of Keystone XL stretching from Oklahoma to the Canadian border. (The pipeline’s southernmost leg has already been approved and is under construction in Texas -- with protesters perching in trees and chaining themselves to construction equipment in an attempt to stop it.)

Rice is reportedly Obama’s favorite to take the helm at the State Department next year. Clinton has said repeatedly that she plans to step down shortly after Obama’s second inauguration in January. In addition to Rice, reportedly the president's lead candidate for the job, U.S. Senator John Kerry had also reportedly made it onto the president’s short list. Kerry, whose net worth of at least $232 million makes him far wealthier than Rice, does not own shares of TransCanada or Enbridge, the major tar sands pipeline companies, although he does have stock in some other Canadian energy interests.

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Rice’s net worth sat somewhere between $23.5 million and $43.5 million in 2009, the latest year for which the center has done a full analysis of her finances. That makes her either the wealthiest person currently serving in the executive branch or a close second to Clinton. (The uncertainty surrounding these figures is due to the way officials are required to disclose their investments; instead of declaring the specific amount of stock they own, they are required by law only to declare a range.)
Other public officials have been criticized for pushing for the Keystone XL project while standing to benefit financially. The nonprofit Sunlight Foundation watchdog group reported in December 2011 that four members of Congress who own shares in TransCanada had pressed for the pipeline’s approval -- either by supporting bills that would have forced the State Department to issue a permit or by writing to Clinton or Obama, urging them to give the go-ahead. Rice’s ownership of TransCanada stock was noted by the Sunlight Foundation but not considered a conflict of interest at the time, because she had no direct role in the approval process.

Neither Rice’s office nor the White House returned OnEarth’s calls for comment about her financial holdings. It’s unclear when Rice began investing in Canadian energy and banks, but the Stanford University graduate and Rhodes Scholar worked for the prestigious McKinsey & Company consulting firm’s Toronto office from 1990 to 1993, marrying Canadian-born TV producer Ian Cameron in 1992. She then joined the National Security Council under President Bill Clinton. (Financial disclosure forms aren’t available for Rice’s security council tenure; by law, they’re destroyed after six years.) Rice later became President Clinton’s assistant secretary of state for African affairs, then joined the nonprofit Brookings Institution think tank during the George W. Bush administration. She advised both the Kerry and Obama presidential campaigns on foreign policy.

According to the reports she filed in May 2012, Rice and her husband have a wide-ranging portfolio that includes more than 100 securities, such as IBM, Monsanto, Apple, BP, and McDonald’s. Dan Auble, a researcher at the Center for Responsive Politics who studies the personal finances of public officials, said it’s not unusual to see energy investments play a significant role in their financial portfolios, as they do with Rice and her husband. (Auble said the holdings of a public official’s spouse are included in financial disclosure reports because they have the same potential to create a conflict of interest.) In their case, however, nine of the 14 holdings they claimed that top $500,000 are Canadian energy interests or banks.

If Rice does get the Secretary of State job, federal ethics officials could recommend that she sell her stock in TransCanada and related companies before deciding on Keystone XL, Auble said. But that’s not a sure thing.

Leading Keystone opponents say they wouldn’t necessarily oppose Rice’s nomination -- but they would want someone else in charge of deciding the pipeline’s fate. “It would be one of the first decisions she would make, and she’s not qualified to make an unbiased decision,” said Jane Kleeb, the executive director of Bold Nebraska, a group that has fought to block the Keystone XL pipeline.

“It’s one more clear sign that the State Department should not be handling this,” added McKibben (who is also an OnEarth contributing editor). Both advocates believe the Environmental Protection Agency or the White House Council on Environmental Quality would be more qualified to assess the environmental impacts of Keystone XL. But an executive order issued by President George W. Bush in April 2004 makes the Secretary of State responsible for approving pipelines that cross the U.S. border. Kleeb suggested that Obama could change that order to shift the decision-making responsibility elsewhere.

Environmental advocates (including the Natural Resources Defense Council, which publishes OnEarth) have sought to block the Keystone XL pipeline and further development of the Alberta tar sands fields due to their climate impact and potential for pollution and dangerous oil spills. Extracting bitumen -- a heavy, viscous black oil -- requires intensive open-pit mining in the heart of Canada’s boreal forest. More dirty and corrosive than conventional crude, bitumen requires extensive refining to become useable fuel. The entire process uses vast amounts of energy and water and creates three times the global warming pollution of conventional fuel, while shipping the bitumen through pipelines means an additional risk of corrosion and leaks.

Despite the environmental risks, tar sands development has become a major focus of the Canadian government and pillar of the country’s economy, championed by Prime Minister Stephen Harper, whose administration has denounced environmental advocates and First Nations tribes opposed to pipeline construction as extremists. Alberta's tar sands contain the world's third largest proven oil reserve, but they’re landlocked and remote -- hence the desire for more pipelines to provide Canadian energy companies with access to ports and refineries.

According to her most recent financial disclosure reports, along with her TransCanada investments, Rice and her husband own at least $1.5 million worth of stock in Enbridge (Canada’s No. 3 oil producer, according to Forbes), Cenovus (No. 7), and Encana (No. 8), as well as at least $1.25 million in Imperial (No. 2), $50,000 to $100,000 in Suncor (No. 1), and $15,000 to $50,000 in Canadian Natural (No. 6). (TransCanada is ranked at No. 5 by Forbes.) The couple has at least $1.25 million invested in Transalta, Alberta's largest coal-fired electricity power producer, and at least $1.5 million in Canadian Pacific Railway, which transports coal, oil, and gas and has been a major financial beneficiary of the North American energy boom.

On the banking side, Rice has investments totaling at least $5 million and up to $11.25 million in Bank of Montreal, Bank of Nova Scotia, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, Royal Bank of Canada, and Toronto Dominion. A report by the Dutch consulting firm Profundo Economic Research says several of these same banks are largely responsible for underwriting the expansion of Canada’s tar sands industry. “Investment in tar sands infrastructure now surpasses that of manufacturing across all of Canada,” according to the report.

Which means that regardless of Keystone XL’s fate, Canadian companies will continue to seek ways to pump bitumen from northern Canada to coastal refineries and ports, where it can be shipped to Europe, China, and other overseas markets. NRDC and other environmental groups have presented evidence that Enbridge is making plans to reverse a pipeline that currently carries regular crude from the New England coast to Montreal, and use it to ship tar sands oil in the other direction instead.

Since it crosses the U.S.-Canadian border, that plan would also require State Department approval.
OnEarth editor-at-large Ted Genoways contributed to this report.
More from OnEarth

From The Mag: Canadian Democracy: Death by Pipeline
Web Exclusive: Tar Sands Showdown in the Nebraska Sandhills
From The Mag: Canada's Highway to Hell
More from NRDC
Issues: Stopping the Tar Sands Pipeline
Report: Tar Sands Pipelines Safety Risks
Blogs: Keystone XL on Switchboard

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Raleigh store owner takes on liberal bureaucrats, socialist ideas!

Verne Strickland Blogmaster / November 28, 2012

Every day I drive past a gas station and convenience store, the Grocery Boy Junior on Lake Wheeler Road in Raleigh. A few weeks ago, while fueling up there and muttering about high gas prices, I noticed something on the marquee outside of the building:
The Grocery Boy Junior is an emblem of all things that embody the passion — and the pain — of small businesses today. I was intrigued by the marquee so much that I decided stop in and ask to chat with the man responsible for it. As I waited to speak with the cashier, I noticed something else:
“Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy, its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery.”
This quote from Winston Churchill is affixed to the cash register with two small pieces of tape, positioned perfectly to be noticed by anyone making a purchase.

A few weeks later, when I sat down with owner Scott Byers, he grabbed a pack of gum and took a piece for himself. He offered me a piece and sighed. “10 years ago, this pack of gum cost about half of what it does now,” he said, “and people just don’t seem to realize that fuel costs are a huge part of that.”
He said he came from a military upbringing and attended a two-year college. He is involved with his church, working with several ministries within the congregation. He has three children, and beams when he speaks about them. He has dreams for them like any parent would; but above all, he wants them to understand that they are responsible for their achievements, not entitled to them.
He explained that his income is now half of what it was four years ago, a common plight afflicting the small business sector. He spoke with sadness in his voice about the heartbreaking decision to let go of employees that had worked for nearly a decade in his store. “It’s hard to hear people demonizing their bosses,” he explained, “because it’s not easy for us to make those choices.”
When I asked how he felt about local government and the bureaucracy endured by many small business owners, Byers said that he had been faced with many hurdles from various state departments amid his efforts to improve his business. He noted that it seems like these departments whose intentions are to protect the people in fact make it more difficult for businesses to operate. He said that many of the changes he would like to make “just [aren’t] viable right now.”
When I asked Mr. Byers what issues he was taking to consideration aside from the economy in this year’s election, he did not even blink. Education, he said, was the root of most of our nation’s problems because it perpetuates the culture of entitlement. Secondly, of course, he continued, is the topic of offshore drilling. Mr. Byers rattled off facts that astonished me. After hearing him speak about drilling, I was ready to go drill for him. For instance, there are nearly 3,500 oil tankers in action today, raising the risk of oil spills in the world’s oceans. Drilling for oil and natural gas right here in North America lessens that danger.
Byers noted that the environmentalists, much like the various North Carolina departments that impose restrictions on his business practices, have good intentions — but do not seem to realize that fuel prices affect the whole economy. High fuel costs do not discriminate, according to Mr. Byers. “It’s not just the middle class, it’s everyone. And people need to consider that when they vote.”
Victoria Wakefield is an intern for the Civitas Institute in Raleigh.
This article was posted in Environment by Victoria Wakefield on November 19, 2012 at 5:23 PM.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Muslim immigration means sexual jihad. We don't want more Muslims in U.S.

Verne Strickland Blogmaster / November 28, 2012

By Eugene Gant on November 24, 2012

AP described them as “four Southern California men” but of course the most recent would-be terrorists arrested by the FBI were actually three immigrants and one US-born Asian. Significantly, and ominously, two had converted to radical Islam in the US—and one of them was a Mexican immigrant.
This current uptick of Muslim terrorist activity in the U.S., combined with the simoom of anti-American violence sweeping across the Islamic world, should teach us one simple thing: we don’t want more Muslims here.
Ultimately, it doesn’t matter why ranting mobs attacked our embassies and consulates in Libya, killing an ambassador and two former Navy SEALs, to name just a few victims. Maybe they’re enraged about a silly film. Or maybe we’re see Muslim nature taking its course in a planned attack. Either way, Islam rears its ugly head.
And if what Americans and their elected officials see on the tube isn’t enough to stop or at least severely curtail Muslim immigration from the Third World, perhaps some other news is: A Lebanese website published an unconfirmed report, misattributing the news to Agence France Presse, that Ambassador Christopher Stevens’ Muslim murderers sodomized and raped him. And an American homosexual blogger reported that Stevens was a homosexual.
Perhaps he wasn’t. Perhaps his captors didn’t sexually brutalize him, alive or dead. Stevens’ autopsy has not been released. And, of course, we can’t trust the Main Stream Media to tell us.
But this does gives us the opportunity to focus on another blessing of Muslim immigration: Jihadists do rape and use carnal humiliation to establish a climate of fear among the infidels. It’s happening in Occupied Europe—and it’s already happening here.
  • In the 2004 Muslim terrorist attack on a school in Beslan, Russia, the orgy of violence and sexual torture boggled the mind. According to one account, the Muslims stabbed infants, and
screaming teenage girls were dragged into rooms adjoining the gymnasium where they were being held and raped by their Chechen [Muslim] captors who chillingly made a video film of their appalling exploits. … [C]hildren were forced to drink their own urine and eat the petals off the flowers they had brought their teachers after nearly three days without food or water.
A crime report on child sexual exploitation revealed that “2,379 individuals were reported … as being possible offenders in relation to street grooming and child sexual exploitation,” while “2,083 victims of child sexual exploitation were reported to” British authorities. Their response: Politically Correct paralysis:
Police and social services have been accused of fueling a culture of silence which has allowed hundreds of young white girls to be exploited by Asian men for sex…
A senior officer at West Mercia police has called for an end to the ‘damaging taboo’ connecting on-street grooming with race.
And it’s happening here in the U.S. Forget about the honor killings Muhammed’s disciples have brought to the land of the free. Forget about Nidal Hasan, the Fort Hood jihadist. Forget about the rise of Sharia law. The sexual war of conquest has begun.
  • In El Paso County, Colo., five Iraqis are charged with what one cop calls “most horrific sexual assaults I’ve seen in my career,” the local television station reported. “According to the affidavit, the victim described a conversation with the men that centered on how unhappy they were with the treatment they received in the United States.
The men also spoke about ‘the United States oppressing them and calling them terrorists.’” Maybe that’s because they are.  [Suspects In Vicious Sex Assault Vacate Court Appearance, KKTV, August 27, 2012]
As Immigration and Customs Enforcement alleged in its account of the gang,
members and associates of the gangs transported underage Somali and African-American females from the Minneapolis area to Nashville for the purpose of having the females engage in sex acts for money and other items of value.
As in Britain, some of the girls were allegedly 13 years old and even younger. The defendants who faced trial in May were among a group of 29, including women, almost all Somali Muslims.[ Somalis face sex trafficking trial in Nashville, by  Kristin M. Hall, AP, March 20, 2012]
Where did these Somalis come from? Not a few of them came thanks to the State Department and its Leftist religious co-conspirators, crazy Lutherans and Catholics who “resettled” thousands upon thousands—meaning they dropped the Africans into all-white American neighborhoods without asking the neighbors what they thought about it.
Refugee Resettlement Watch reports the grim numbers: 4,413 Somalis landed here between 1983 and 1993. Within the decade after that, we had invited more than 41,000. And they still kept coming. Between 2004 and 2011, just more than 50,000 arrived. Nearly 13,000 arrived in 2004 alone. And more than 10,000 arrived in each of the two years after that. The total for the last 29 years is nearly 100,000.
That’s another reason the number of Muslims here has doubled since 2001. And no wonder the number of mosques has jumped 74 percent since 2000
Those numbers won’t slow down, the Pew Forum reported in 2011:
In the United States, for example, the population projections show the number of Muslims more than doubling over the next two decades, rising from 2.6 million in 2010 to 6.2 million in 2030, in large part because of immigration and higher-than-average fertility among Muslims. The Muslim share of the U.S. population (adults and children) is projected to grow from 0.8% in 2010 to 1.7% in 2030, making Muslims roughly as numerous as Jews or Episcopalians are in the United States today.
Americans should ask the Open Borders Left and its neocon auxiliaries at the Wall Street Journal Editorial Page a few questions. As the Muslim population increases, will we witness more or fewer honor crimes? Or terrorist attacks? Or  religio-political rapes?
And, given that Muslims have stoned Christians and tried to shut down free speech in Dearbornistan, how long will it be before parts of American cities are declared “gay-free zones” and young American women start wearing “reverse chastity belts”?
When will a major American city go up in flames after a Muslim punk kills himself running from police—or someone inadvertently insults the pedophile Prophet?
Not too far in the future, if what’s past in Europe is prologue for us.
Read the complete post and contact the author at Vdare.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Obama: Premature babies aren't people. People are smarter and bigger. And they have clothes. Lots of them are black or tan.

  Verne Strickland Blogmaster / November 26, 2012

Human Events

Barack Obama worked to allow a gruesome practice, in which babies born alive after attempted abortions are left to die without medical care, to continue in Illinois.  National Review journalist David Freddoso’s new book, The Case Against Barack Obama, exposes the lengths to which Barack Obama went to protect this ghastly procedure.

Because of a loophole, doctors in Illinois had no legal obligation to treat these babies.  Under the law, they were non-persons.  Illinois legislators tried to close this loophole with a bill mandating that babies born alive during an abortion would have to be treated just like every other baby born prematurely.  The same laws and the same rules of medical ethics would apply to these born, living babies as to any other born, living human being.

On the federal level a similar bill passed 98-0 garnering a yea vote from pro-abortion stalwart Barbara Boxer.  But back in Illinois, Barack Obama had problems with this type of legislation.  He spoke on the floor of the Illinois Senate in opposition to the Born Alive Infants Protection Act – in fact, he was the only senator to do so.  The following year he spoke against the born alive bill again.  As a rabid proponent of legalized abortion, Obama voted against the bill or worked for its defeat on three separate occasions.

From The Case Against Barack Obama:
The tiny newborn baby made very little noise as he struggled to breathe. He could not cry—he lacked the strength. He had been born four months premature.  “At that age,” says nurse Jill Stanek, “their lungs haven’t matured.” 

Stanek is the nurse who found herself cradling this tiny human being in her hands for all of his forty-five-minute lifetime. He was close to ten inches long. He weighed perhaps half a pound. It’s just a guess, no one had weighed or measured him at birth. No happy family had been there to welcome him into the world. No one was trying to save his life now, to put him into an incubator, to give him oxygen or nourishment. He had just been left to die.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

US, Obama choose stability over democracy in Egypt. We will get neither.

Verne Strickland Blogmaster / November 26, 2012

On Thursday, Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood president Mohammed Morsi passed an extraordinary presidential decree. This unilaterally fired the country’s prosecutor-general, banned the judiciary from dissolving the country’s constituent assembly and, conveniently, also declared all the president’s decisions to be irrevocable and immune from any form of judicial challenge or overturn. 

Morsi said this would allow him to achieve ‘political and economic stability’ in Egypt and to ‘defend the revolution’: an ominous phrase beloved by every revolutionary-turned-despot from Robespierre to Lenin and Mao.
This momentous step – which one Egyptian legal expert described as ’absolute fascism’ - was almost certainly given the nod by the Obama administration, either implicitly or explicitly. Only a few hours before his announcement, Hillary Clinton had told a press conference in Cairo that:
“Egypt's new government is assuming the responsibility and leadership that has long made this country a cornerstone of regional stability and peace.”
After Morsi’s announcement, the US State Department merely observed that Morsi’s moves “raise concerns for many Egyptians and for the international community”, hardly a resounding US denunciation.
The ‘stability and peace’ trade-off that was reached between Clinton and Morsi in Cairo is clear; in return for Morsi persuading Hamas to agree to a ceasefire with Israel, the US would allow him to seize new ‘temporary’ political powers under the guise of ensuring ‘stability’, both in Egypt and in the region.
This move – the latest instance of the Obama Whitehouse dressing up naivety for hard-nosed realism -- is short-sighted for two main reasons:
Firstly, it grants the Muslim Brotherhood the power to act with minimal checks and balances from Egypt’s judiciary. Now that Egypt’s non-ideological military has realised that it can prosper under an Islamist regime, the judiciary was the last branch of government still acting as a significant brake on Brotherhood ambitions.
For all its faults, this institution is now likely to be purged and silenced, with knock-on effects for Egyptian politics: opposition protesters will face tougher sentences, Brotherhood members – already widely accused of attacks on rival demonstrators and of using sexual assault to intimidate liberal female oppositionists - will be able to act with greater impunity.
Ongoing, politically motivated prosecutions of opposition leaders, on charges from blasphemy to corruption, will also likely increase. Weakening Egypt’s judges will also enable the Brotherhood to move against other sources of opposition formerly protected by the judiciary.
On Friday, Gehad al-Haddad, a senior Brotherhood adviser, tweeted ominously that after the Brotherhood had dealt with the judiciary, ‘the police needs its own cleansing project, which this declaration enabled. Let’s hope it’s swift’.
Secondly, Hillary Clinton’s ‘peace and stability’ trade-off has only granted Israel a short-term reprieve and has in the longer-term stacked the odds against the survival of the Jewish homeland.
Following Clinton’s visit, Mohammed Badie, the Brotherhood’s real leader who was prevented from standing for the presidency on a technicality, publicly reiterated the group’s view on Israel that “jihad was obligatory” on Muslims, his sole proviso being that an armed attack on Israel by Arab states should only be “the last stage”, once the Muslim world had achieved “unity”-- incidentally a word used by Morsi to justify his power-grab.
As will become clear, in the longer-term Clinton’s deal with Morsi has weakened Israel by linking its security to the Muslim Brotherhood’s political ambitions: if the US does not give a free hand to the Brotherhood in Egypt, the Egyptians will cease to rein in Hamas.
Clearly, this new dynamic works actively against Israel; the more Hamas threatens Israel, the more the US will have to concede to the Brotherhood in Cairo; a formula that only motivates the Brotherhood to allow Hamas’ military capabilities strengthen further, all while the Brotherhood uses its control of Egypt to advance towards its planned ‘last stage’, namely the eventual liquidation of Israel.
It is of course possible that Morsi will keep his promise to relinquish his powers once a constitution is in place. However, Morsi and his followers believe their party acts on earth on behalf of God; how then can they reduce God’s earthly powers and remain devout?
It is also possible that Morsi’s unseemly lunge for the levers of power will galvanise the group’s much-hyped ‘liberal’ wing. Certainly it has unnerved overseas supporters. Osama Saeed, the Scottish Brotherhood activist now working for al-Jazeera, described Morsi’s defence of the move ‘as reminiscent of Gaddafi’.
Dali Mogahed, a long-time US-based defender of the Brotherhood, described the move as ‘a disaster’. It is also possible that effective domestic opposition to the Brotherhood will now finally coalesce: Mohamed ElBaradei’s powerful denunciation on Friday of Morsi as a ‘pharaoh’, the Brotherhood’s preferred term for Mubarak, clearly struck a nerve.
Yet these developments may be too little, too late. With the Brotherhood seizing dictatorial powers and silencing opposition voices, while simultaneously re-writing the country’s constitution in order to hardwire Islamism into the country’s governmental DNA, all apparently with the tacit support of Obama’s White House, it may be too late to save Egypt from despotism.

James Brandon, author of this article, is an associate fellow at the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation (ISCR) at Kings College London and is the former Director of Research and Communications at the Quilliam Foundation, the counter-extremism thinktank. He is currently working as a political risk and security analyst.
Read more on: Morsi and Israel, muhammad morsi, Obama and Morsi, Hilary Clinton, egypt, Egypt and Israel, Hamas and Egypt, Egyptian muslim brotherhood, muslim brotherhood, dictatorship, and democracy and dictatorship