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Transparency activist Ryan Shapiro discusses a growing controversy over the FBI’s monitoring of Occupy Houston in 2011. The case centers on what the FBI knew about an alleged assassination plot against Occupy leaders and why it failed to share this information. The plot was first revealed in a heavily redacted document obtained by the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund through a FOIA request. The document mentioned an individual “planned to engage in sniper attacks against protesters in Houston, Texas.” When Shapiro asked for more details, the FBI said it found 17 pages of pertinent records and gave him five of them, with some information redacted. Shapiro sued, alleging the FBI had improperly invoked FOIA exemptions.
Why Did FBI Monitor Occupy Houston, and Then Hide Sniper Plot Against Protest Leaders?
Transparency activist Ryan Shapiro discusses a growing controversy over the FBI’s monitoring of Occupy Houston in 2011. The case centers on what the FBI knew about an alleged assassination plot against Occupy leaders and why it failed to share this information. The plot was first revealed in a heavily redacted document obtained by the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund through a FOIA request. The document mentioned an individual “planned to engage in sniper attacks against protesters in Houston, Texas.” When Shapiro asked for more details, the FBI said it found 17 pages of pertinent records and gave him five of them, with some information redacted. Shapiro sued, alleging the FBI had improperly invoked FOIA exemptions. Last week, Federal District Judge Rosemary Collyer agreed with Shapiro, ruling the FBI had to explain why it withheld the records.
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.
AMYGOODMAN: I want to talk about your work around animal rights activism and getting information, but I want to first turn to Occupy Houston. You have been working on getting information from the FBI around Occupy Houston. The particular issue focuses on what the FBI knew about an alleged assassination plot in 2011 against leaders of Occupy Houston and why it failed to share this information. The plot was first revealed in a heavily redacted document obtained by the Partnership for Civil Justice through a FOIA request. It read, quote, “An identified [REDACTED] as of October planned to engage in sniper attacks against protestors in Houston, Texas if deemed necessary,” unquote. When our guest, Ryan Shapiro, asked for more details, the FBI said it found 17 pages of pertinent records and gave him five of them with some information redacted. So, Ryan Shapiro, you sued, alleging the FBI had improperly invoked FOIA exemptions.
Last week, Federal District Judge Rosemary Collyer seemed to agree with you, when she ruled the FBI had to explain why it withheld records. She made reference in her ruling to David Hardy, the head of the FBI’s FOIA division, writing, quote, “At no point does Mr. Hardy supply specific facts as to the basis for FBI’s belief that the Occupy protesters might have been engaged in terroristic or other criminal activity. … Neither the word ‘terrorism’ nor the phrase ‘advocating the overthrow of the government’ are talismanic, especially where FBI purports to be investigating individuals who ostensibly are engaged in protected First Amendment activity.”
Ryan Shapiro, explain what the judge ruled and what “talismanic” means.
This article originally appeared on Houston Chronicle
A federal judge has ordered the FBI to explain why it withheld some information requested by a graduate student for his research on a plot to assassinate Occupy Houston protest leaders.
Ryan Noah Shapiro, a doctoral student at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Mass., filed a lawsuit April 29, 2013, against the U.S. Department of Justice in the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C.
U.S. District Judge Rosemary M. Collyer issued her order, with an accompanying memo, on March 12.
The FBI, as part of the Department of Justice, controls the records Shapiro wanted for his study of “conflicts at the nexus of American national security, law enforcement and political dissent,” the plaintiff’s complaint stated.
Houston was among hundreds of U.S. cities where protesters occupied outdoor spaces as part of the Occupy Movement that started in New York’s Zucotti Park on Sept. 17, 2011.
“The movement has sought to expose how the wealthiest 1 percent of society promulgates an unfair global economy that harms people and destroys communities worldwide,” the complaint stated.
Shapiro said in his complaint that the existence of an assassination plot against Occupy Houston’s leaders became known through the FBI’s earlier release of information in response to a Freedom of Information Act request.
“According to one of the released records, … [REDACTED] planned to gather intelligence against the leaders of the protest groups and obtain photographs, then formulate a plan to kill the leadership via suppressed sniper rifles…,” Shapiro stated in his complaint.
Shapiro requested additional information from the FBI in January 2013.
“There is presently a vigorous and extraordinarily important debate in the United States about the authority of the government to conduct extrajudicial killings on American soil,” the complaint stated.
“The records sought by plaintiff would likely be an invaluable contribution to the public discourse on this issue,” Shapiro’s complaint said. “It would also be a significant controversy if it was revealed that the FBI deliberately failed to act to prevent a plot to assassinate American protest leaders.”
Soldier’s ‘Courageous Act’ Remembered as Fort Hood Begins Healing
In a final heroic act, Sgt. 1st Class Daniel Ferguson threw his body against the entryway of a door as a fellow soldier-turned-gunman blasted away in a terrifying rampage at Fort Hood.
Ferguson, 39, was fatally hit in the moment he became a human shield — a sacrifice remembered in a news conference Saturday.
Ferguson’s “courageous act of blocking the door with his own body prevented further bloodshed,” said Rep. Roger Williams, R-Texas.
Also killed in Wednesday’s shooting were Sgt. Timothy Owens, 37, and Staff Sgt. Carlos Lazaney-Rodriguez, 38. Sixteen others were wounded. Gunman Spc. Ivan Lopez died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, officials said.
Rep. Williams, along with Rep. John Carter, R-Texas, met some of the wounded soldiers Saturday, and commended them on their valor. Among the victims was Maj. Patrick Miller, who was shot in the stomach with Lopez’s .45-caliber semiautomatic pistol.
Miller had called 911 as he tended to his own wounds.
Timothy Wayne Owens, a counselor at Fort Hood, was known to friends as a stand-up guy who triumphed over a hardscrabble upbringing to become an empathetic military man, one who helped people and defused conflicts.
So, it was no surprise to residents in his home town of Effingham, Ill., to hear that Owens lost his life trying to calm the shooter in Wednesday’s Fort Hood killings.
“He was a brave man,” said Owens’s mother, Mary Muntean, 77, who said she learned that her son had been killed as he tried to talk with Ivan Lopez, who has been identified as the man who killed three people and injured 16 in the shooting on the Army post.
Muntean said she received a call at her Effingham home from her son’s wife, Billy Owens, on Wednesday evening telling her that he had been shot five times after trying to calm Lopez in a post parking lot. Military officials have not released the names of those killed or injured or confirmed reports of how the violence unfolded. But friends of Owens said the account provided by his family fits the man they knew.
Among Fort Hood Victims, a Sergeant Is Killed, and a Major Is Wounded
By ASHLEY SOUTHALL and STEVEN YACCINOAPRIL 3, 2014
The names of the victims of the shooting in Fort Hood began to come out on Thursday, released by relatives and by officials offering their condolences.
In Effingham, Ill., family members told The Associated Press that Army Sgt. Timothy Owens was one of the three soldiers killed Wednesday in a mass shooting by Specialist Ivan Antonio Lopez. Sixteen others were wounded in the shooting. The Army has not released a list of the victims, pending notification of relatives.
The mother of Sergeant Owens, Mary Muntean, 77, of Effingham, told The Associated Press that she had learned of her son’s death in a telephone call with her daughter-in-law.
Unable to reach her son, she called his wife, Billie Owens, who first said he was in the hospital. Before long, Sergeant Owens’s wife called back, and Mrs. Muntean had her worst fears confirmed. “She said, ‘Mom, I want to tell you how sorry I am. Tim’s gone,’ ” Mrs. Muntean said, according to The A.P. “I broke down.”
Sergeant Owens dropped out of high school in 1995. But his mother said he earned his high school equivalency after joining the Army in 2004.
A friend and former roommate, Paul Eatherton, said Sergeant Owens, whose family moved back to Effingham from Missouri in the mid-1990s, worked at Pizza Hut and studied tae kwon do at a local gym. Mr. Eatherton, a martial arts instructor at the time, said Sergeant Owens got his black belt and started teaching at a gym in Effingham.
“He was the best student I’d ever seen or known,” Mr. Eatherton said. “We’d go to tournaments, and he’d bring first places home every time.”
He said Sergeant Owens, who was in his mid-30s, had recently signed up for another six years in the Army. “I think he was going to be a lifer,” he said. He said he had not talked to Sergeant Owens for several months, but when he heard news of the shooting, he texted him immediately. He got no reply. “That really worried me,” he said.
The commander of Fort Hood, Lt. Gen. Mark A. Milley, said in an afternoon news conference, that nine of the 16 people wounded in the attack were taken to Scott & White Memorial Hospital in nearby Temple, Tex., for treatment. Three were upgraded to serious condition on Thursday. Hospital officials said doctors had operated on two patients, a man and a woman, who had been shot in the abdomen and neck. The third person had an abdominal wound. The other victims taken there were discharged.
Specialist Ivan Antonio Lopez had seen a military psychiatrist as recently as last month. He was being treated for depression and anxiety, and had been prescribed Ambien to help him sleep. He had come back from a four-month deployment to Iraq in 2011 and told superiors he had suffered a traumatic head injury there. But military officials said he had never seen combat, and there was no record of any combat-related injury. He was being evaluated for possible post-traumatic stress disorder.
Still, military officials said, they had seen nothing to indicate that Specialist Lopez, 34 — who killed three people and himself and wounded 16 others on Wednesday in a shooting rampage at Fort Hood, Tex. — was violent or suicidal.
“He had a clean record,” Secretary of the Army John McHugh said Thursday morning in testimony before a Senate panel in Washington. “No outstanding bad marks for any kinds of major misbehaviors that we’re yet aware of.”
Lt. Gen. Mark A. Milley, the Fort Hood commander, said Thursday at a news conference that there were “very strong indications” that there had been a “verbal altercation” between Specialist Lopez and one or more other soldiers in the minutes before the shooting started, but the authorities were still investigating what role, if any, that played in the attack.
“We have very strong evidence looking into his medical history that indicated an unstable psychiatric condition,” General Milley said.
Friends from his hometown in Puerto Rico said that Specialist Lopez was angry with the Army when he returned home for his mother’s funeral in November. Ismael Gonzalez, a former schoolmate who had kept in contact with Specialist Lopez on Facebook, said the soldier was very upset that he had initially been given only 24 hours to attend the funeral.
In addition, Mr. Gonzalez said, Specialist Lopez, who was earning $28,000 a year, told him that he was “in a precarious economic situation” trying to support his family in Texas and two children in Puerto Rico from his first marriage. And he was angry that the Army would not allow him to move his family onto the base at Fort Hood, Mr. Gonzalez said.
None of this had found its way into Specialist Lopez’s official record, though.
“This was an experienced soldier,” said Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, the Army’s chief of staff. “He spent actually nine years in the Puerto Rico National Guard before coming on active duty, so he’s a very experienced soldier.”
Those who knew Specialist Lopez as a young man, obsessed with the high school band, were even more stunned to learn what he was suspected of doing.
“I cannot believe you are speaking about the same guy,” said Sgt. Maj. Nelson Bigas, one of Specialist Lopez’s superiors in the National Guard. “He was the most responsible, obedient, humble person, and one of the most skillful guys on the line.”
For a year beginning in 2006, Specialist Lopez was deployed with his guard unit on the Sinai Peninsula, watching the border between Egypt and the Gaza Strip.
But, the authorities say, it was Specialist Lopez who went into Guns Galore in Killeen, Tex., near Fort Hood on March 1 and bought the .45-caliber Smith & Wesson semiautomatic pistol that was used in the shootings on Wednesday.
It was the same gun store where Nidal Malik Hasan, an Army major, had bought at least one of the weapons used in a 2009 mass shooting on the base.
So information was emerging slowly on Thursday about Mr. Lopez. He was raised in the small fishing village of Guayanilla on the southern coast of Puerto Rico, about an hour and a half from San Juan. While there, he attended the School of Asunción Rodríguez de Sala, where he was active in the band and an enthusiastic drummer.
In 1999, he joined the National Guard, where he also played in the band. Later, he joined the Puerto Rico Police Department and became a member of its band. Officials said his record with the force was clean, with no disciplinary or behavioral problems.
His main job for the police was visiting schools and hospitals around Puerto Rico to give demonstrations on his percussion instruments. After he finished, other police officers would speak to the students or patients about gun violence, drugs and bullying, said Jeann Correa, the director of the unit for which he worked. His pay was $2,400 a month.
In 2010, getting a special leave from the police force, he shifted into the Army as a private first class and was quickly promoted to specialist and stationed with the First Armored Division at Fort Bliss in El Paso, Tex. He was an infantryman there but his military record shows that in November, because of a medical condition identified as plantar fasciitis, a painful foot ailment, he moved to Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri, where he trained to become a truck driver. In February, he was posted to Fort Hood in that capacity.
An Iraq war veteran who was grappling with mental health issues opened fire at Fort Hood, Tex., in an attack that left four people dead and 16 wounded Wednesday afternoon, according to preliminary law enforcement and military reports. The gunfire sent tremors of fear across a sprawling Army post still reeling from one of the worst mass shootings in U.S. history.Many basic details about the shooting remained unclear in the chaotic hours after the first calls for help around 4 p.m., but senior U.S. law enforcement officials said the incident did not appear to be linked to any foreign terrorist organizations. The shooter was among those who died, the officials said.
The officials identified the shooter as Army Spec. Ivan Lopez, 34, a military truck driver, who was dressed in his standard-issue green camouflage uniform. Lopez opened fire in two locations on the vast central Texas post, inside a building housing the 1st Medical Brigade and in a facility belonging to the 49th Transportation Battalion.
Police spent Wednesday night searching his apartment in Killeen, the city that abuts the Army facility. Gen. Mark A. Milley, the commander of Fort Hood, said the soldier, whom he did not identify by name, served four months in Iraq in 2011.
Milley said the shooter “had behavioral health and mental health issues.” He said the soldier, who self-reported a traumatic brain injury and was taking anti-depressants, had been under examination to determine whether he had post-traumatic stress disorder. “We are digging deep into his background,” Milley said.
Milley said the soldier opened fire with a .45-caliber Smith & Wesson semiautomatic pistol that was purchased recently but was not authorized to be brought on the post. He was eventually confronted by a female military police officer. He put his hands up but then pulled out a gun from under his jacket. “She engaged,” Milley said, and then the soldier put the gun to his head and shot himself.
The shooting was the third major gun attack at a U.S. military installation in five years, leaving the nation grappling with the prospect of yet more flag-draped funerals for troops killed on the homefront. A government contractor went on a shooting rampage at the Washington Navy Yard in September, leaving 12 people dead. In 2009, Army Maj. Nidal M. Hasan opened fire on a group of soldiers at Fort Hood preparing to deploy to Iraq and Afghanistan, killing 13 people and wounding more than 30.
Doctors at the Scott & White hospital in Temple, Tex., said Wednesday that they have treated eight of the wounded and that one more was on the way. Three of the patients were in critical condition in the ICU, and five were in serious condition. Seven of them were male, and one was female. Their injuries ranged from mild to life-threatening, a majority of them caused by single-gunshot wounds to the neck, chest and abdomen.
President Obama said he was “heartbroken that something like this might have happened again.” Speaking during a fundraising trip to Chicago, he pledged “to get to the bottom of exactly what happened.”
The gunman, identified by multiple government sources as Army Specialist Ivan Lopez, took his own life, officials said.
Lopez, 33, of Kileen, Tex., was wearing an Army uniform at the time of the shooting, Michael McCaul (R-Tex.), chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, told reporters.
Four people were taken to Scott and White Memorial Hospital in Temple, Tex., and another two are being brought there, said Glen Couchman, the facility’s chief medical officer. Their injuries that “range from stable to quite critical,” he said.
The installation was locked down for much of the afternoon and into the evening after the shooting before being lifted shortly before 9 p.m. local time.
Speaking in Chicago, President Obama said his administration was following the shooting closely.
“I want to just assure all of us we are going to get to the bottom of exactly what happened,” he said. “We’re heartbroken something like this might have happened again.”
SHOOTING SITUATION STILL ACTIVE, Multiple Gunned Down
FORT HOOD (April 2, 2014) At least one person is dead after a shooting late Wednesday afternoon on Fort Hood, a post spokesman confirmed.
Others were injured in the shooting, but the spokesman didn’t say how many.
The gunman is still at large and the spokesman said the incident is being treated as an active-shooter situation.
Warning sirens sounded late Wednesday afternoon at Fort Hood because of the incident.
A man who said he was a witness told News 10 that about 20 shots were fired in a post motor pool in the area of Motor Pool Road and Tank Destroyer Boulevard.
He said at least three people were hit.
He said the three victims were taken to a hospital.
The post was on lockdown as a result of the shooting, which occurred at around 4:25 p.m.
People on post were told to stay indoors.
A message that scrolled across the top of the post’s website said, “Shelter in place immediately. This is not a test.”
The 1st Calvary Division, which is based at Fort Hood, sent a Twitter alert telling people on base to close doors and stay away from windows.
Texas A&M Central Texas in Killeen canceled evening and night classes Wednesday at Fort Hood and at its Fairway building because of the situation on post.
First responders from surrounding communities were headed to the post.
Bell County sheriff’s deputies and Department Public Safety troopers were also responding, sheriff’s Lt. Donnie Adams said.
Media were being directed to the post’s Visitor’s Center.
On Nov. 5, 2009, Army psychiatrist Nidal Malik Hasan opened fire at Fort Hood’s Soldier Readiness Center, killing 12 soldiers and one civilian and wounding 29 others before two Fort Hood civilian police officers shot him.
Posted: 03/28/2014 8:27 am EDT Updated: 03/28/2014 8:59 am EDT
In this March 22, 2014 file photo, a barge loaded with marine fuel oil sits partially submerged in the Houston Ship Channel. (AP Photo/U.S. Coast Guard, PO3 Manda Emery, File)
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — The barge operator that spilled nearly 170,000 gallons of tar-like oil into the Houston Ship Channel, closing one of the nation’s busiest seaports for several days, will be fined by Texas regulators regardless of the outcome of state and federal investigations.
Investigators are still trying to pinpoint the cause of last weekend’s accident involving a barge owned by Houston-based Kirby Inland Marine Corp., but Texas law considers the company carrying the oil a responsible party, said Greg Pollock, deputy director for the Texas General Land Office’s oil spill response division.
“What that will be now I can’t say because we don’t have a closed case,” Pollock said.
It won’t be the first fine for the company, which has paid more than $51,000 for at least 77 spills since 2008, most of which were minor incidents.
Saturday’s accident closed the main artery linking the area’s busy ports with the largest petrochemical complex in the country. The channel in Texas City, about 45 miles southeast of Houston, typically handles about 70 ships and 300 to 400 tugboats and barges a day, and sees more than 200 million tons of cargo move through each year.
The channel wasn’t fully reopened until late Thursday. At its height, the closure stranded some 100 vessels.
“As long as the weather holds up, we can get caught up in a couple days,” said Capt. Clint Winegar of the Houston Pilots, an association of sea pilots.
No timetable has been set to reopen a major U.S. shipping channel after nearly 170,000 gallons of tar-like oil spilled into the Texas waterway.
As workers in bright yellow suits picked quarter-sized “tar balls” out of the sand along Galveston Bay on Monday, strong incoming tides kept washing more ashore.
Elsewhere, crews lined up miles of oil booms to keep oil away from the shoreline and bird habitats, two days after a collision in the Houston Ship Channel dumped as many as 170,000 gallons of oil from a barge into the water along the Gulf Coast and shut down one of the nation’s busiest seaports.
With cleanup well underway, the Coast Guard said it hoped to have the channel open to barge traffic as quickly as possible but that more tests were needed to confirm the water and the vessels traveling through the channel were free of oil.
The closure stranded some 80 vessels on both sides of the channel. Traffic through the channel includes ships serving refineries key to American oil production.
Officials believe most of the oil that spilled Saturday is drifting out of the Houston Ship Channel into the Gulf of Mexico, which should limit the impact on bird habitats around Galveston Bay as well as beaches and fisheries important to tourists.
“This spill — I think if we keep our fingers crossed — is not going to have the negative impact that it could have had,” said Jerry Patterson, commissioner of the Texas General Land Office, the lead state agency on the response to the spill.
The best-case scenario is for most of the slick to remain in the Gulf for at least several days and congeal into small tar balls that wash up further south on the Texas coast, where they could be picked up and removed, Patterson said. Crews from the General Land Office are monitoring water currents and the movement of the oil, he said.
Note: *These companion pets are located at Animal Care Services and due to Extreme Overpopulation, they on the City San Antonio’s Euthanasia List and will be put to sleep unless they are fostered, adopted or rescued by the deadline noted above their ID#! There are estimated to be 150,000 stray pets in the San Antonio area and the majority are not spayed and neutered.
The non-profit organization shared the following information about the 9-year-old dog in need on Saturday:
This sweet ol’ guy just came in to ACS and he needs a hospice foster. He is a medical emergency. He will need to have his eye enucleated and SAPA will provide his medical care for a foster or adopter.
He is a sweet and gentle 9 yr old Chihuahua and he has been through hell and back and is very emaciated and has a painful Upper respiratory infection (like havinga bad cold). He is contagious to other pets for the next 7 to 10 days but he is so tiny and east to keep separated.
Chewy needs a warm space away from the others until he is feeling better. He weighs approx 8 lbs. This sweet little man just needs to be comfortable and loved for the short time he has left. Please email if you can help him.
Edward Snowden warns of personal data vulnerability
The former NSA contractor takes part in a video conference at the South by Southwest tech event in Texas and answers questions via Twitter to an enthusiastic audience.
Former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden speaks remotely to the South by Southwest Interactive conference in Austin, Texas, superimposed over an image of the Constitution. (Spencer Bakalar / Los Angeles Times / March 10, 2014)
By Steve Appleford
March 10, 2014, 9:31 p.m.
AUSTIN, Texas — Edward Snowden brought no bombshells when he arrived to an excited round of applause Monday, his stubbled face relaxed as it was beamed in from across the continents for a “virtual conversation” about the vulnerability of personal data. His presence was event enough.
Public appearances by the former National Security Agency contractor and U.S. exile are rare, and this one was beamed in from an undisclosed location in Russia via several online proxies for his own security, a bit of technological cloak-and-dagger that could only add to his mystique for the three roomfuls of international tech specialists struggling to hear his words in video that was choppy and often inaudible.
His message still got through: Personal information is vulnerable not only to government prying but to growing numbers of outside infiltrators because companies have failed to adequately protect the data of their customers. His own exile after leaking to reporters secret information he had gathered while an NSA consultant has made him a central figure in that conversation, and he says he has no regrets.
“Would I do it again? Absolutely,” Snowden said into the camera, in response to one of several questions submitted to him via Twitter (#AskSnowden) and screened backstage at the South by Southwest Interactive conference. “I took an oath to support and defend the Constitution. And I saw the Constitution was being violated on a massive scale.”
He warned, “If we allow the NSA to continue unrestrained, every other government will accept that as a green light to do the same.”
The chosen Twitter questions were notably nonconfrontational for a figure often the subject of heated debate even among supporters. One asked whether the mass surveillance was driven by privatization. Another wondered about the potential for society to “reap benefits” from the “big data.” None asked about his life in Russia, or what further revelations might be coming.
The first question came from Timothy John Berners-Lee, a British scientist known as the inventor of the World Wide Web, who asked Snowden how he would create an accountability system for governance.
Edward Snowden, the NSA whistleblower whose unprecedented leak of top-secret documents led to a worldwide debate about the nature of surveillance, insisted on Monday that his actions had improved the national security of the United States rather than undermined it, and declared that he would do it all again despite the personal sacrifices he had endured.
In remarks to the SXSW culture and technology conference in Texas, delivered by video link from his exile in Russia, Snowden took issue with claims by senior officials that he had placed the US in danger. He also rejected as demonstrably false the suggestions by some members of Congress that his files had found their way into the hands of the intelligence agencies of China or Russia.
Snowden spoke against the backdrop of an image of the US constitution, which he said he had taken an oath to protect but had seen “violated on a mass scale” while working for the US government. He accepted praise from Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the world wide web, accorded the first question via Twitter, who described him as “acting profoundly in the public interest”.
The session provided a rare and extensive glimpse into the thoughts of Snowden, granted temporary asylum by Russia after the US revoked his passport. He struck back strongly against claims made again last week by the NSA director, General Keith Alexander, that his release of secret documents to the Guardian and other outlets last year had weakened American cyber-defences.
“These things are improving national security, these are improving the communications not just of Americans, but everyone in the world,” Snowden said. “Because we rely on the same standard, we rely on the ability to trust our communications, and without that, we don’t have anything.”
He added later that thanks to the more secure communication activity that had been encouraged by his disclosures, “the public has benefited, the government has benefited, and every society in the world has benefited”.
Texas Independence Day Highlights State’s Ongoing Secession Efforts
March 4, 2014 2:13 PM
As Texas celebrated its annual “Texas Independence Day,” many in the state’s government leadership and ongoing secession movement say Texas is finally preparing to become an “independent nation,” from the United States. (Photo by Ben Sklar/Getty Images)
Houston (CBS HOUSTON) – As Texas celebrated its annual “Texas Independence Day,” many in the state’s government leadership and ongoing secession movement say Texas is finally preparing to become an “independent nation.”
The 178th anniversary of the 59 settlers’ signing of the Texas Declaration of Independence commemorates the Lone Star State’s March 2, 1836 break from Mexico to create the Republic of Texas. With the Alamo famously under siege, the delegates declared their independence and today the only state that ever won a war to become its own country celebrates March 2 as its own official “national” holiday.
The U.S. brought Texas in as the 28th state of the Union in an event known as the Texas Annexation of 1845.
But recent rhetoric from anti-tax Tea Partiers, libertarians and state officials alike suggests that the secession movement may be moving a step beyond parties and re-enactments, The Inquisitr reported.
Texas Attorney General candidate Barry Smitherman has openly expressed the possibility of Texas secession.
Texas Independence Day Brings Up Secession: Do Texans Still Want To Secede?
Texas Independence Day is not only about celebrating separation from Mexico and becoming its own nation for a time. According to some, the Texas secession movement uses it as a time to discuss having Texas secede from the United States.
“Generally speaking, we have made great progress in becoming an independent nation, an ‘island nation’ if you will, and I think we want to continue down that path so that if the rest of the country falls apart, Texas can operate as a stand-alone entity with energy, food, water and roads as if we were a closed-loop system.”
Larry Kilgore is in the running to become Texas’ governor and he believes a “U.S. economic collapse cannot be avoided” and that the solution is for “”Texas to secede now or we will sink too.” Still, his chances at succeeding in his bid for the governorship are said to be relatively low compared to other candidates.
Some Western Md. Residents Want To Form Their Own State
February 10, 2014 11:25 PM
WESTMINSTER, Md. (WJZ) — A tale of two Marylands: Western Maryland and the rest of the state. Fed up with high taxes and gun control, some people want to break away and go it alone.
Mary Bubala explains why they’re trying to form their own state.
There’s a storm brewing over the beautiful mountains and valleys of Western Maryland. More and more people in those five counties say Governor Martin O’Malley is out of touch and they want to break away from the rest of the state.
“I can’t imagine Maryland without Western Maryland,” said Governor Martin O’Malley.
“Do you actually care about your citizens?” questioned Rob Parr.
“I certainly don’t live in a bubble and I go around the state all the time,” O’Malley said.
“Why don’t you want to listen to people that you don’t agree with?” said Suzanne Olden.
“I spend my whole day listening,” O’Malley said.
Scott Strzelczyk, Suzanne Olden and Rob Parr are part of a growing group that wants to rip Maryland in two, creating the nation’s 51st state. They met recently at O’Lordan’s Irish Pub in Westminster to tell WJZ they’re fed up with politics as usual in Annapolis.
“If your vote doesn’t count, it’s the same as having no vote. We’re not free,” Strzelczyk said. “We’re doing exactly what they did in 1776. I just simply want to live as a free human being with limited government intrusion in my life and that’s really why I do this.”
Feb. 10, 2012: Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley testifies in support of a same-sex marriage bill during a committee hearing in Annapolis, Md.AP
A push by frustrated western Maryland residents to part ways with their state is gaining momentum as the initiative turns to social media to get its message out.
Residents in Garrett, Allegany, Washington, Frederick and Carroll County, for months have been pushing an initiative to secede from the state and form a new one, called Western Maryland. Among the biggest problems the group has with Maryland are new gun restrictions, tax increases and what they call unfair district lines the group claims unfairly favor Democrats.
The western Maryland initiative now has nearly 9,000 Facebook “likes” since it was formed in July 2013. Activist Scott Strzelczyk started the Facebook page as a way to bring dissatisfied residents together.
“Here at the state level, we’re controlled by a single party – Democrats – and we feel we have no other recourse,” he has told Fox News. “We’re sick and tired of being sick and tired.”
They also have a beef with the high-crime city of Baltimore.
“Little mystery why this is the case,” the group states. “We don’t want our tax dollars going to Baltimore City or other parts of the state to support the same old failed policies. The solution is simple. We want our own state.”
GREELEY, Colo. — If you mention the word “secession” most people think of the South during the Civil War. But today, a new movement is gaining steam because of frustration over a growing, out-of-control federal government.
A number of conservative, rural Americans are taking about seceding and creating their own states, meaning a new map of the United States of America could include the following:
A 51st state called Jefferson, made up of Northern California and Southern Oregon
A new state called Western Maryland
A new state called North Colorado
These are real movements gaining traction with voters across the country. Jeffrey Hare runs the 51st State Initiative in Colorado, an effort to fight an out-of-control legislature trying to ram big government policies down the throats of voters.
“We’re at this point of irreconcilable differences,” Hare told CBN News.
Secessionist talk has filled town hall meetings and the divide discussed is not just ideological.
“It’s predominately left versus right, but it’s urban versus rural because you typically find more typical conservative values in rural America,” Hare said.
An Attack on Colorado?
That’s the crux of the issue. Rural Americans across many states feel they’re not being heard. Their laundry list is long and at the top of that list are stricter gun control laws.
According to Weld County, Colo., Sheriff John Cooke, the state legislature is out of control.
“They are out of touch with rural Colorado,” he said. “There is an attack on rural Colorado and it’s not just on gun control laws. It’s on several of the other bills that they passed.”
Government mandates on renewable energy, environmental policies restricting oil and gas drilling, and controversial social issues like gay marriage have also led to this divide and talk of secession.
Organizers want to create “North Colorado,” an idea that went to voters in 11 counties this past fall. But not everyone in Colorado thinks secession is a great idea.
“I don’t think that’s necessarily the way to make something happen within the area you live,” Colorado resident Greg Howe told CBN News. “You’re supposed to work within our electoral services.”
The so-called secession movement in Colorado had mixed results this past November. Some counties approved it. Others didn’t.
But the organizers of the 51st State Initiative are undaunted, saying this type of movement takes time.
“Movements take a while; education takes time,” Hare said. “People do have a hard time saying ,’I want to live in a different state,’ even though physically they live in the same house.”
“It’s hard for them since their lives have been Coloradoans,” he explained. “Their whole lives to say that ‘I’m going to be a new Coloradoan’ or ‘I want to live in the state of liberty’ or something different.”
Houston police kick out veteran with service dog from restaurant
Published time: February 27, 2014 20:24
Reuters / Richard Carson
A Houston, Texas, police officer allegedly kicked a US Army and Navy veteran out of a local restaurant for bringing in a service dog on the grounds that he wasn’t actually blind.
According to local news outlet KHOU, Aryeh Ohayon served in the US military for 23 years. Ohayon said his service dog, named “Bandit,” helps him deal with the lingering effects of depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), especially if he begins to suffer from panic attack or a flashback linked to his prior experiences.
The incident began when Ohayon entered a Thai restaurant for dinner and was denied service by the manager. The veteran called police to clear up the situation, but he said the responding officer only denigrated his condition.
“I told him what my disabilities were,” Ohayon told KHOU. “That’s when he said, you’re not blind. [He said] I don’t see why you need the dog.”
“It feels like your service and experience that you’ve done to defend and uphold the Constitution and protect this country have been belittled,” he added.
Eight ball needs a homeVia Triumphant Tails FB Page
February 18, 2014
Since early January, a handsome, mature dog named “Eight ball,” has called the La Porte Animal Shelter in Texas, home.
The Newfoundland/Retriever mix has been behind bars since Jan. 3, and to date, he has had no one who has expressed any interest in giving him a home.
Triumphant Tails, Inc., is hoping that they can help facilitate an adoption for this friendly boy – and soon. On Tuesday, the following information was shared on their Facebook page:
Not one inquiry has come in for this poor guy. Space is limited at this small facility and time is NOT on his side. Due to the length of his stay, he will be at the top of the list when there are no kennels remaining. By the Grace of God, we have been able to move many other dogs out of there to buy Eight Ball more time – but it’s time for Eight Ball to leave now, too. He is much too large to spend his days in a small, confined space. He’s not happy there.
Eight Ball is described as gentle and very friendly – he gets along with other dogs who are not confrontational. Please take a moment to help this older boy find a family, before he is lost forever.
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