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A Florida Resident Drove Around with a Cellphone Jammer for Two Years Before Being Caught

Many states have banned talking on your cellphone while driving, but Florida is not one of them. So 60-year-old maverick Jason R. Humphreys took matters into his own hands.

As The Tampa Tribune reports, Humphreys brought a cellphone jammer along on his commute every day for two years. You know, to ensure that his fellow commuters remained focused on the road. Until two local sheriff’s deputies caught him in the act and slapped him with $48,000 worth of fines, which he must pay or otherwise respond to within a month.

It turns out that Humphreys would have gone undetected if it hadn’t been for a local carrier noticing that something was messing with its towers. MetroPCS (which is owned by T-Mobile) notified the Federal Communications Commission that there was a peculiar outage on a certain patch of the Interstate 4 highway and downtown Tampa exactly a year ago. The FCC looked into it and discovered that wideband emissions — broadcast activity with wide frequencies or wavelengths — were emanating from a blue Toyota Highlander.

Still, Humphreys went on jamming for another year until two county sheriff deputies pulled him over. They were able to confirm his use of the cellphone jammer before they even searched his vehicle and found it behind a seat cover. As they approached his SUV, their two-way radios were disconnected from their dispatcher.



Report: ObamaCare to save large corporations hundreds of billions

By Ferdous Al-Faruque -

The Affordable Care Act could save some of America’s largest corporations hundreds of billions of dollars over the next decade, according to a market analyst group.

According to a report by S&P Capital IQ released Thursday, S&P 500 companies will likely move their employees from employer-provided health insurance plans to the healthcare exchanges under the Affordable Care Act, saving employers nearly $700 billion through the year 2025. If current healthcare inflation stays constant, those savings could be greater than $800 billion, researchers found.

Corporations are expected to start out by dropping low-wage and part-time workers from their employer insurance plans since they are able to reap the benefits of government tax subsidies under Obamacare, leading them to pick up new plans under the healthcare law. Eventually, the burden of healthcare coverage will shift from employers to employees.

“Neither lawmakers nor the White House originally anticipated the idea that the ACA could provide corporations with an enormous subsidy to earnings,” say authors of the report. “However, once a few notable companies start to depart from their traditional approach to health care benefits, it's likely that a substantial number of firms could quickly follow suit.”

Read more: http://thehill.com/policy/healthcare/204893-report-o-care-to-save-large-firms-hundreds-of-billions

Cop Beats Up Young Man with Down Syndrome for Packing…a Colostomy Bag

This is apparently what happens when a 22-year-old with down syndrome attempts to walk half a block home at 9:30 at night by himself in Miami-Dade, Florida.

Gilberto Powell says the police were following him in their cruiser as he was walking home. The police report says the officers decided to stop Gilberto after they noticed a “bulge” in Gilberto’s pants. After an officer tried to conduct a patdown, the report claims Gilberto attempted to flee.

Gilberto denies trying to run away and says he did everything the officer asked him to do. What happened next resulted in the photograph above.

After Powell was finally handcuffed and questioned, the officers realized he was “mentally challenged, was not capable of understanding our commands, and that the bulge in his waistband was a colostomy bag,” the report said. (source)

By that time, Gilberto had been hit, knocked to the ground and the bag had reportedly been ripped from his body. The father says by the time he and Gilberto’s mother ran outside to their son, the cops had removed Gilberto’s pants and had him out there in his boxer shorts.



Republicans in Congress Are Trying to Gut Local Fracking Regulations

…And basically every other state rule on toxic chemicals.
—By Molly Redden

Capitol Hill on Tuesday was home to a rare sight: House Republicans preparing a bill they say will strengthen the authority of the Environmental Protection Agency.

But a coalition of public health experts, environmentalists, and state officials argue that the bill, called the Chemicals in Commerce Act, is a Trojan horse that would kneecap state rules on toxic chemicals across the country without giving the Environmental Protection Agency any authority to pick up the slack. Opponents of the Chemicals in Commerce Act warn that the bill would weaken oversight of fracking fluids in particular, as these are almost exclusively regulated by state agencies.

The bill, which is still a draft, is outwardly aimed at fixing the shortcomings of the Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976. In theory, TSCA gives the EPA the power to regulate any new chemical going on the market, from industrial flame-retardants to the plastic in child booster seats. But in practice, TSCA sets the bar for limiting chemicals so high that the EPA cannot even enforce a restriction it issued for asbestos—a substance so toxic it has its own disease named after it.

Almost all the most critical regulation of toxic chemicals, as a result, takes place at the state level. But the Chemicals in Commerce Act would prohibit states from enforcing those laws if the EPA has already taken action on the chemical in question—either by allowing the chemicals onto the market or by regulating them through TSCA.

This would leave close to zero restrictions in place on chemicals that have been proven dangerous. Because the EPA has such a short window in which to consider a new chemical, and limited resources to do so, it has been compelled to allow nearly 22,000 chemicals registered with the agency onto the market without first evaluating their safety. Since a federal court tossed out the EPA's limit on asbestos in 1991, the agency hasn't used TSCA to ban a single chemical. And in testimony on Tuesday, Jim Jones, the assistant administrator for EPA's office of chemical safety, noted that when the agency has placed TSCA regulations on a chemical—in about 200 cases—these usually amount to no more than required testing.



This American Refused to Become an FBI Informant.

Then the Government Made His Family's Life Hell.
Plus, secret recordings reveal FBI threats.
—By Nick Baumann |

IT WAS AFTER 10 P.M. on July 8, 2009, when Sandra Mansour answered her cellphone to the panicked voice of her daughter-in-law, Nasreen. A week earlier, Nasreen and her husband, Naji Mansour, had been detained in the southern Sudanese city of Juba by agents of the country's internal security bureau. In the days since, Sandra had been desperately trying to find out where the couple was being held. Now Nasreen was calling to say that she'd been released—driven straight to the airport and booked on a flight to her native Kenya—but Naji remained in custody. He was being held in a dark, squalid basement cell, with a bucket for a bathroom and a dense swarm of mosquitoes that attacked his body as he slept. "You have to get him out of there," Nasreen said. But she was unfamiliar with Juba and could only offer the barest details about where they'd been held. "He's in a blue building. You've seen it. It's not far from your hotel."

Sandra remembered passing a blue warehouse ringed by tall, razor-wire-topped fences. She hung up and turned to her daughter, Tahani, who'd flown to Juba to assist in tracking down her brother: "We've gotta go look for Naji." They packed food, water, and bug spray in case they found him. Then Sandra and Tahani laced up their sneakers, retrieved a flashlight, and slipped out onto a pitch-dark, deserted road.

Sudan's long-running civil war had ended a few years earlier, and Juba, once a malarial backwater on the White Nile, was poised to become the capital of the world's newest nation, South Sudan. The city had grown into a boomtown, its expansion fueled by newly discovered oil and an influx of foreign aid. Shacks and half-built concrete structures lined its maze of narrow, trash-strewn streets, and entrepreneurs rented out converted storage sheds for as much as $100 per night. Sandra, a US government contractor, lived in one of them.

The upstart city had a Wild West atmosphere. Rifle- and grenade-wielding bandits occasionally stormed poorly guarded compounds, and violent muggings and carjackings were commonplace. It was not safe to drive after dark, let alone walk, but Sandra and Tahani were desperate. "It was a very crazy thing to do," Sandra later recalled. "But it was the first lead we had, and there was nothing that was gonna stop us."



The US Surveillance Court Hasn't Turned Down an NSA Request This Decade

Last year, the federal government asked the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court for the authority to conduct electronic surveillance 1,588 times. Guess how many were turned down? Not a single one.

According to a letter sent from Peter Kadzik of the Department of Justice to Vice President Joe Biden and a host of important lawmakers (Sens. Harry Reid, Mitch McConnell, and Dianne Feinstein, Congressmen Mike Rogers, John Boehner, and a few others), the FISC never turned down a government request to conduct electronic surveillance and only made modifications in 34 of the 1,588 applications. Even if those modifications were substantial, that’s a shocking statistic.

Or, maybe it shouldn’t be. In 2012, FISC didn’t turn down any of the 1,789 government applications to conduct electronic surveillance, either. Same with 2011, and 2010. The last time it turned down an application was 2009, when it denied one.

Of course, much of what happens on the FISC court is completely secret, so we’ll likely never know what the modifications were. It was only last year that we actually saw a FISC court order, when Glenn Greenwald obtained a copy of one that ordered Verizon to turn over millions’ of customers metadata.



Ralph Nader wants liberals to back Rand Paul. Don't do it.

By Bill Scher

This week, Ralph Nader returned to the political stage with a new book Unstoppable, whose triumphant subtitle is The Emerging Left-Right Alliance to Dismantle the Corporate State. To kick off his publicity tour, he has argued that liberals should "definitely" impeach President Barack Obama, abandon the "international militarist" Hillary Clinton, and instead embrace Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.) as a possible leader of his dream coalition.

To what end? In the book, Nader writes that by marrying the left with the libertarian right, we can cut off government support for corporations and have "honest government," "fair taxation," and "more opportunity." Nader sees relatively low-hanging fruit in opposing "sovereignty-shredding global trade agreements, Wall Street bailouts, the overweening expansion of Federal Reserve power, and the serious intrusions of the USA PATRIOT Act against freedom and privacy." He also articulates loftier, if not fully fleshed out, aspirations to "push for environmentalism," "reform health care," and "control more of the commons that we already own."

Some liberal commentators like Esquire's Charles Pierce and the American Prospect's Scott Lemieux are dismissing Nader's vision as fantastical, since the right will never join his progressive crusade. But Nader's vision should not be dismissed so quickly. He leads his book with concrete examples in the 1980s of when he put left-right coalitions together to stop an over-budget nuclear reactor project, and to pass legislation to protect whistleblowers who have uncovered wasteful government fraud.

However, coalition building requires compromise and, most critically, prioritizing one set of issues over another. The trade-offs inherent in Nader's path into Rand Paul's arms should make liberals run screaming.


Our Nuclear Infrastructure Is a Radioactive Time Bomb

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has had a busy few weeks. Last month, thanks to Freedom of Information Act queries filed by numerous organizations, the Commission was forced to disclose a dossier of emails showing the lengths it had gone to in the immediate aftermath of the Fukushima disaster to downplay the risk of a similar catastrophe happening in the US. The correspondence showed a startling lack of preparedness.

In one example, NRC public affairs officer David McIntyre offered his opinion on what Energy Secretary Steven Chu should have done when asked by CNN whether American nuclear plants could withstand a force 9.0 earthquake: “He should just say, ‘Yes, it can.’ Worry about being wrong when it doesn't. Sorry if I sound cynical."

The documents also show a background briefing for then NRC chairman Gregory Jaczko and other commissioners that split intelligence into “public answer" and "additional technical, non-public information." In some cases the NRC withheld crucial details and misdirected the media.

It's been 35 years since an American nuclear plant has malfunctioned. At 4 AM on March 28, 1979, a relief valve failed to close at Three Mile Island, Pennsylvania,  severely damaging the reactor's core. Two days later gas was released from the facility, but only exposed local residents to background doses of radiation. Some are concerned the next accident could be disastrous.



Thursday Toon Roundup 3- The Rest








Thursday Toon Roundup 2- Not OK

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