First American arrested with help from drone is sentenced
A North Dakota farmer who was the first US citizen to be arrested in a situation where law enforcement had help from a drone has also become the first to be convicted and sentenced, thanks in part to an unmanned aerial vehicle.
Rodney Brossart, a cattle rancher, was sentenced to three years in prison, although two and a half years of that sentence were suspended, for terrorizing police officers in 2011. Six cows wandered onto Brossart’s property near Grand Forks, North Dakota and, when he refused to return the cattle to his neighbor, a SWAT team was called in to disband the police standoff.
When the situation was still unresolved 16 hours later the SWAT team called in a Predator drone that was on loan from the Department of Homeland Security. The drone quickly identified Brossart’s location, as well as that of his three sons on the 3,600 acre property, and notified police when it was safe to make an arrest continue
At the height of the Cold War, it was common for American conservatives to label the officially atheist Soviet Union a “godless nation.” More than two decades on, history has come full circle, as the Kremlin and its allies in the Russian Orthodox Church hurl the same allegation at the West. “Many Euro-Atlantic countries have moved away from their roots, including Christian values,” Russian President Vladimir Putin said in a recent keynote speech. “Policies are being pursued that place on the same level a multi-child family and a same-sex partnership, a faith in God and a belief in Satan. This is the path to degradation.” In his state of the nation address in mid-December, Mr. Putin also portrayed Russia as a staunch defender of “traditional values” against what he depicted as the morally bankrupt West. Social and religious conservatism, the former KGB officer insisted, is the only way to prevent the world from slipping into “chaotic darkness.” As part of this defense of “Christian values,” Russia has adopted a law banning “homosexual propaganda” and another that makes it a criminal offense to “insult” the religious sensibilities of believers. More
U.S. stocks finished steeply lower on Wednesday, wiping out the prior day’s gains and more, as the Federal Reserve opted to stick with its plan to continue to reduce its monthly bond purchases, now down to $65 billion, regardless of recent distress in emerging markets. ”Today’s Fed decision to continue with tapering, despite the unfolding turmoil in emerging markets, suggests the Fed has a domestic policy compass firmly in hand. The Fed is sending a clear message that unless a much larger scale crisis emerges, do not expect the Fed to deviate from its current policy path,” wrote Jonathan Lewis, chief investment officer at Samson Capital Advisors.
“We would not be surprised to see the Fed increase its tapering to $15 billion or 20 billion at one of its summer meetings, and expect the Fed to be done tapering by the fall should the economy continue on its current path,” said Jennifer Vail, chief investment officer for institutional and corporate trust at U.S. Bank Wealth Management. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to a low of 2.68 percent, its first time under 2.7 percent since Nov. 26. ”The Fed’s actions continue to send reverberations to the other economies of the world, and not positive ones. The strength of the dollar, via the taper, is exposing some real weakness in other markets and economies. Keep in mind that all of this could change on a dime and go the other way,” noted Kevin Giddis, head of fixed income capital markets at Raymond James. The Fed decision was expected, with several market observers saying policy makers had little choice. More
As the drought in California continues, 17 communities throughout the state could run out of water within 60 to 120 days, state officials said. In some districts, the wells are running dry while other reservoirs are nearly empty. The state Health Department compiled a list after surveying the more than 3,000 water agencies in California last week. The water systems are in all in rural areas that serve from 39 to 11,000 residents. They range from tiny Lompico County Water District in Santa Cruz County to districts that serve the cities of Healdsburg and Cloverdale in Sonoma County.
Some districts have long-running problems that began before the drought. Larger communities like Santa Clara Valley however, have fared better because of long-running conservation programs. “Our conservation programs that we implemented since 1992 now reduce the county’s water demands by about 10 percent, or 56,000 acre-feet a year—so that’s a significant contribution in a year like this,” Joan Maher, spokeswoman for the Santa Clara Valley Water District, said on Tuesday. Maher said the district was joining San Francisco in approving a voluntary ten percent cutback in water usage. According to the San Jose Mercury News, the smaller water districts along the coast could be forced to truck in water or use expensive mobile-desalination plants. CBS San Francisco
The head of Israel’s most powerful intelligence agency depicted Wednesday a changing battlefield in which offensive cyber capabilities will, in the near future, represent the greatest shift in combat doctrine in over 1,000 years. For now, though, he said, the 170,000 rockets and missiles pointed by enemy states at Israel represented the most pressing threat, a danger he placed even above Iran’s rogue nuclear program. “Cyber, in my humble opinion, and you don’t have to agree with me, will be revealed in a not very long time as a revolution greater than the creation of gunpowder or the usage of the aerial space at the start of the past century,” said Maj. Gen. Aviv Kochavi, the head of the IDF’s Military Intelligence Directorate. Kochavi, a former infantry officer, called the possibilities inherent in cyber warfare “nearly limitless, and that is not a metaphor.” He revealed that the IDF’s Military Intelligence Directorate, already the largest of the army’s corps, has recently expanded further and shifted both its methodology and, more significantly, its approach. Where once, he said, a state’s intelligence service was expected to describe reality, today it must also “take part” and alter it. Like his predecessor Amos Yadlin, Kochavi, speaking at the INSS think tank’s annual conference in Tel Aviv, described a Middle East in a historic flux, producing an array of challenges and opportunities. More
Former Vice President Al Gore raised eyebrows last week when he suggested that “fertility management” was the key to fighting global warming and promoting economic development in poor countries. Gore’s comments drew criticism from free-marketeers who said his remarks amount to “eco-imperialism.” “Gore’s agenda for saving the world from global warming has always included population control,” Myron Ebell, director of global warming and international environmental policy at the free-market Competitive Enterprise Institute, told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “Advocating population control specifically for Africa is just another form of imperialism. Gore’s eco-imperialism is uncomfortably close to the original racist goals of Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood, who advocated population control in order to control the number of black and brown people in the world.”
The world is expected to have more than 9 billion people by 2075, with much of that growth coming from developing countries in Africa. This is alarming to environmental activists like Gore, who argues that “fertility management” is needed to address a whole slew of global development issues, including mitigating global warming. “When Gore advocates ‘making fertility management ubiquitously available,’ does he mean that there should be free condom dispensers on every solar panel?” Ebell added. Gore was on a panel at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland last week titled “Changing the Climate for Growth and Development.” The panel looked at global development through a “climate lens” and included other world leaders such as United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, Microsoft founder Bill Gates and Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg. Fox Nation
The prime minister of Turkey embraced new technology this week by addressing a rally via hologram. Recep Tayyip Erdogan recorded the message in advance, which was beamed to an audience of thousands and a political gathering on Sunday. Mr Erdogan turned to the technology, famously deployed to bring rapper Tupac to the stage years after his death, because he was too far away to make the journey to Izmir in western Turkey. The message had been recorded in advance against a green-screen by technology company Polyvision. Mr Erdogan used his remote address to encourage his supporters ahead of a round of elections. According to Breitbart, he also warned of ‘treasonous networks’ working against him. He told the crowd: ‘We are going to the elections in the shadow of attacks prepared by treasonous networks. I urge all my mayoral candidates to not waste any of their time.’ However, despite the obvious spectacle of Mr Edrogan’s delivery, he is not the world leader in holographic political speeches. In 2012 Narendra Modi, an Indian opposition leader, used hologram technology to broadcast himself to 26 different audiences at once. He said this was a demonstration of India’s technological prowess. More
The full text of the recently inked Iranian nuclear deal is being kept in “a super secret location” shrouded in “a cone of silence,” according to House Foreign Affairs Committee (HFAC) member Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R., Fla.) Lawmakers and experts alike criticized the White House for refusing to release publicly the full text of the deal, which temporary halts some of Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for billions of dollars in economic sanctions relief. Ros-Lehtinen said on Tuesday during a HFAC hearing about the deal that even members of Congress must climb through hoops in order to view the deal. “Why is it that members of Congress have to go to a super secret location, a cone of silence … to look at the deal?” Ros-Lehtinen asked a panel of nuclear experts. Ros-Lehtinen described the secret document as “quite eye opening” and wondered why the Obama administration continues to keep it under lock and key. “It’s a very easy to read document; one doesn’t have to be as expert,” she said, urging other members on the committee to examine the deal. “If this is such a great deal and so good for peace and diplomacy in our time why is it held in secret?” Ros-Lehtinen asked.
“If the administration is proud of it, I think they should highlight it.” Nuclear expert Gregory Jones expressed concern that the administration “does not fully understand” the deal it signed. “It does bother me” that the deal has been kept secret, said Jones, a senior researcher at the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center. “It appears to me the administration has negotiated an agreement it does not fully understand and I don’t understand how that can happen.” “I don’t see how there’s going to be an agreement,” he said. Iran, for instance, can continue to enrich uranium, the key component in a nuclear weapon, under the deal and continue to develop advanced nuclear apparatus. Jones said he could not envision a scenario in which Iran is stopped from building a nuclear weapon. Given these concessions, “I’m left with the impression the administration doesn’t really understand what it has negotiated,” he said. Iran currently has enough enriched uranium to build its first nuclear weapon in around two months. It could successfully build four weapons in around four to five months, Jones said. Rep. Ted Poe (R., Texas) also slammed the White House for hiding the details of the nuclear deal from the public. “I’m perplexed why it’s not” public, he said. “I still don’t know why it’s not. Iran is the mischief maker in the Middle East.” Even if Iran dismantles 80 percent of its centrifuges, fully closes its nuclear site in Fordow, dismantles its heavy water nuclear reactor in Arak, and consents to nuclear inspections, it would “still be six months away from nuclear breakout,” according to Rep. Ed Royce (R., Calif.), the committee’s chairman. “Iran will likely still possess the capability to very quickly produce a nuclear bomb,” Royce said. Iran is already experiencing an economic boom as the United States begins to roll back sanctions, according to United Against Nuclear Iran CEO Mark Wallace. “The true value of sanctions relief is well more than $20 billion dollars,” said Wallace, contradicting White House claims that the deal will give Tehran around $7 billion in relief. “Iran’s economy is blossoming.” Iran’s stock market and currency has already experienced a sharp increase, and oil exports have risen significantly, according to Wallace, who pegged exports at around 1.2 million barrels a day. The Washington Free Beacon
With lethal injection drugs in short supply, US states consider returning to old-fashioned executions
With lethal-injection drugs in short supply and new questions looming about their effectiveness, lawmakers in some death penalty states are considering bringing back relics of a more gruesome past: firing squads, electrocutions and gas chambers. Most states abandoned those execution methods more than a generation ago in a bid to make capital punishment more palatable to the public and to a judicial system worried about inflicting cruel and unusual punishments that violate the Constitution. But to some elected officials, the drug shortages and recent legal challenges are beginning to make lethal injection seem too vulnerable to complications. “This isn’t an attempt to time-warp back into the 1850s or the wild, wild West or anything like that,” said Missouri state representative Rick Brattin, who this month proposed making firing squads an option for executions.
“It’s just that I foresee a problem, and I’m trying to come up with a solution that will be the most humane yet most economical for our state.” Brattin, a Republican, said questions about the injection drugs are sure to end up in court, delaying executions and forcing states to examine alternatives. It’s not fair, he said, for relatives of murder victims to wait years, even decades, to see justice served while lawmakers and judges debate execution methods. Like Brattin, a Wyoming lawmaker this month offered a bill allowing the firing squad. Missouri’s attorney general and a state lawmaker have raised the notion of rebuilding the state’s gas chamber. And a Virginia lawmaker wants to make electrocution an option if lethal-injection drugs aren’t available. If adopted, those measures could return states to the more harrowing imagery of previous decades, when inmates were hanged, electrocuted or shot to death by marksmen. More
PROPHECY ALERT: The ‘Kerry Plan’: Palestinian capital in east Jerusalem, recognition of Jewish state
Israel is not bound to agree to all points of an imminent US proposal for a peace agreement with the Palestinians, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a speech Tuesday night “The Americans are working to solidify American positions,” he said at the Institute for National Security Studies conference. “Israel does not have to accept every American position.” He said the American proposal would be presented soon. Netanyahu also reiterated his position that he does not “want a bi-national state and… this reflects the desires of most Israelis.” However, he qualified, neither does he want another “state sponsored by Iran” next door to Israel — a reference to the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip and Lebanon — so “the Palestinian state must be demilitarized, and therefore some symbols of [its] sovereignty must be limited.”
Netanyahu also expressed some doubt as to “whether the Palestinians are really ready to grapple with the concessions they will have to make” in order to reach a peace agreement. He did give some grudging praise to the Palestinian Authority, however, saying it does not use terrorism in pursuit of its goals, unlike Hamas. “We stand on two basic principles [that we require of the Palestinians],” he said. “The first is recognition of the State of Israel as the national state of the Jewish people. This is the root of the conflict. The conflict is not about the settlements, its not about the settlers, and it’s not about a Palestinian state. The Zionist movement agreed to recognize a Palestinian state. “The conflict is over the Jewish state… We are asked to recognize a national Palestinian state, so can we not also demand [that they] recognize a national Jewish state?” he said. More
Turkey, India, Brazil and a string of emerging market countries are being forced tighten monetary policy to halt capital flight despite crumbling growth, raising the risk of a vicious circle as debt problems mount. Turkey’s central bank on Tuesday night hiked interest rates to 12pc from 7.75pc at an emergency meeting in a bid to defend its currency. The lira strengthened to 2.18 against the dollar after the decision, from 2.25. The move came as India raised rates a quarter-point to 8pc to choke off inflation and shore up confidence in the battered rupee, the third rate rise since Raghuram Rajan took off in September. South Africa’s central bank is meeting on Wednesday as the rand hovers near a record low at 11.06 to the dollar.
The emerging market bloc makes up half the world economy, far higher than in any previous crisis. The International Monetary Fund warns that the sheer weight of these countries’ rate raises could lead to a “blowback” effect that ultimately hits the US, Europe and Japan as well. Jose Vinals, director of the IMF’s Monetary and Capital Markets Department, tried to reassure investors by saying that “this is not a panic situation”. “The epicentre of the global financial storm had shifted to emerging markets from Europe, and this third phase of the global financial crisis is intensifying. We are still in the very early stages,” said Stephen Jen from SLJ Marcro Partners. More
Lloyds Banking Group is cutting 1,080 jobs and outsourcing another 310 roles, the company has confirmed. It said the losses are part of the strategic review, previously announced in 2011. The cuts affect the retail, risk, operations and commercial banking divisions. The company said 90 new roles would be created within the risk, operations and commercial departments. The taxpayer-backed group hoped a number of roles would be shed through natural wastage. Voluntary redundancy would be an option and compulsory cuts taken where necessary as a “last resort”. Lloyds said that since the strategic review about a third of job losses have resulted in redundancies. The bank said in a statement: “Lloyds Banking Group is committed to working through these changes with employees in a careful and sensitive way. “All affected employees have been briefed by their line manager today. The Group’s recognised unions Accord, Unite and LTU were consulted prior to this announcement and will continue to be consulted.” More
A rather Orwellian council proposal in California would see police able to remotely access the feeds from home security cameras in San Jose, for the good of society. The idea, forwarded by City Councilman Sam Liccardo, calls for citizens to volunteer their own CCTV systems, registering them with local law enforcement, so police can monitor whatever the cameras are trained on. While the proposal suggests that police would have access to the cameras after a crime, remote accessibility means that cops could potentially monitor camera feeds in real time, which would amount to a violation of the Fourth Amendment. The proposal is a desperate response to surging crime rates in the city. The idea came about after local business owners volunteered CCTV footage following a series of arson crimes in a downtown district. “It became apparent that there’s a lot of evidence out there that residents want to provide,” Liccardo said, adding that costs would be limited because the security systems are privately operated. Liccardo also suggested that a camera database would be compiled and maintained by existing city officials. The new database “is something that costs very little but could have a big impact in making San Jose safer.” the councilor said. More
A Homeland Security Department drone has crashed off the coast of Southern California. Customs and Border Protection says the drone was on a border security mission when a mechanical problem developed about 20 miles southwest of San Diego late Monday night. Spokesman Mike Friel says the crew operating the drone from Texas decided to crash it in the ocean. The $12 million surveillance drone was one of 10 that Homeland Security uses to patrol the border with Mexico. It was just one of two Predator B drones equipped with radar specifically designed to be used over the ocean. Friel says the cause of the mechanical failure is unknown and that the remainder of the drone fleet has been temporarily grounded while the investigation into the incident continues.ABC News
It was in last year’s State of the Union address that President Obama announced an ambitious trade agreement negotiated behind closed doors with North American and Pacific Rim nations – the Trans-Pacific Partnership – that drew little attention. Now, ahead of Tuesday’s State of the Union address, Secretary of State John Kerry presented evidence that a plan originating with the George W. Bush administration to evolve NAFTA into a European Union-style confederation in North America between the U.S., Mexico and Canada has been put into overdrive with the Obama administration’s effort to obtain “fast track authority” to rush the Trans-Pacific Partnership through Congress with limited debate.
In a joint press conference in Washington Jan. 17 at the conclusion of a ministerial meeting with Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird and Mexican Foreign Secretary Jose Antonio Meade, a reporter posed a question to Kerry. The secretary of state was asked if the U.S. planned to reopen NAFTA and engage in direct negotiations with Mexico and Canada to avoid future conflicts between the Trans-Pacific Partnership currently before Congress and the forthcoming Atlantic counterpart, the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, now being negotiated with the Europeans. Kerry’s surprising answer suggested that with the expected ratification by Congress of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, the Obama administration already considers the U.S., Mexico and Canada as part of a “post-NAFTA” world. “I think that stepping up, all of us, to the TPP, is a very critical component of sort of moving to the next tier, post-NAFTA,” Kerry answered. So I don’t think you have to open up NAFTA, per se, in order to achieve what we’re trying to achieve.” More
SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS)— Supporters of a plan to hand out clean crack pipes to San Francisco drug users say they’re not swayed by city opposition and plan to hand them out anyway. Activists claim that such a program would have many of the same benefits of needle exchanges, essentially connecting users with services that could help them turn their lives around. The city of San Francisco hands out 2.7 million clean needles a year to IV drug users. Advocates said clean glass pipes to crack users could also cut HIV and Hepatitis C cases. Laura Thomas of the HIV Prevention and Planning Council has made a formal recommendation to the city’s health department. As KPIX 5 reported last week, city leaders have balked at the proposal. “It may seem counter-intuitive, but it’s a great program. Once you can get people into your program, make them feel respected, taken care of them, they’re more likely to want to come back and want to get on HIV meds,” Thomas said. More
OVER 150 FROZEN SHARKS FOUND ALONG GULF COAST AS WINTER STORM HITS REGION
GULFPORT – Over 150 frozen sharks have surfaced on beaches across the gulf coast region due to the impact of Winter Storm Leon on Tuesday according to wildlife officials.
The largest area of concentration appears to be around Gulfport, Mississippi, which has seen at least 67 of the frozen animals. Wildlife officials say that the sharks, who migrate to this area during the winter, were caught off guard by the most severe winter storm in several decades.
“Like many of us, I suspect the sharks did not believe that the area would actually receive any winter weather,” Mississippi Department of Wildlife spokesperson Matt Shepherd tells us. “It is like a Shark-slushy out there. The animals all appear to be alive, so please do not approach any frozen sharks. They will probably thaw later in the week and swim back out into the gulf.”
The number of frozen sharks are expected to increase as the temperatures drop across the region. Officials hope poor driving conditions will reduce the number of onlookers who might otherwise approach the sharks.
“Sharks are remarkably adaptable, they have entered a hibernation like state while frozen,” Shepherd tells us. “They can come out of this state and will become incredibly irritated and possibly violent due to the extreme cold surrounding their body. We have already seen one fatality from an individual trying to take a selfie with a frozen shark. We hope to recover his head later this week.”
The winter storm is expected to clear out of the area tomorrow and area schools hope to reopen sometime in April.
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