Notice

I am working on the template of this blog today in order to chase down some problems that have developed with my template and widgets.

Macon County Commissioners

Coverage of the meetings of the Macon County Board of County Commissioners.

Franklin Town Board of Aldermen

Coverage of the meetings of the Franklin Town Board of Aldermen.

Macon County School Board

Coverage of the meetings of the Macon County School Board.

Photoblog

Photos from my photoblog.

Nothing is here yet

I haven't decided what to put here yet, so look at this pretty photo.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

NC General Assembly Calendar for 01-30-2013

**UPDATE 6.25am** WRAL-TV has really stepped up it's game since the addition of Laura Leslie and Mark Binker. Check out their morning briefing on the state legislature.


The North Carolina General Assembly will convene at noon today. Both the NC Senate and the NC House will be in session. 

I will not be able to record these because I will be following an outbreak of severe weather in my county.



9:00 AMRep. Brandon/Press ConferencePress Room LB
12:00 PM
Session Convenes (House)
Calendar [PDF]
[Live Audio] House
12:00 PM
Session Convenes (Senate)
Calendar [PDF]
[Live Audio] Senate

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

NC General Assembly Calendar for 01-29-2013


The North Carolina General Assembly is about to go into action for the coming session tomorrow. The only events on today's calendar are a press conference by the Speaker of the House at 11am and a meeting by the Joint Legislative Committee on Workers' Compensation Insurance Coverage Compliance and Fraud Prevention and Detection at 1pm. The speaker will be meeting in a room where the audio is broadcast, and I'll try to record that and embed it here after it is over. Unfortunately, the other meeting is taking place in a room that is not wired for sound. We will be at the mercy of a technologically illiterate and opaque legacy media...with the possible exception of WRAL, who do sometimes post a video of an entire committee meeting...but only when it is a meeting that is important to the progressive wing of the Democrat Party. Did I just say that aloud?

Anyhow, the legislative calendar for today:



11:00 AMThom Tillis[Audio] Press Room LB
1:00 PM
Joint Legislative Committee on Workers' Compensation Insurance Coverage Compliance and Fraud Prevention and Detection (2011)

415 LOB


Here are some helpful links for you to use in following the upcoming session of our state legislature:

NC General Assembly

NC Senate

NC House

Calendars

Committees

Legislation and Bill Lookup Tool

Representative Lookup Tool 
(this may take a while to load on slow connections)

Citizen Guide to State Government



Other Helpful Resources


North Carolina Legislative Library

Fiscal Research Division

Legislative Drafting Division

Program Evaluation Division

Research Division

Legislative Publications

Mobile Website for the NC General Assembly


The Media


This is my shortlist of resources I use to cover the North Carolina General Assembly and websites that help me a get a handle of what is going on in Raleigh from different perspectives.

Voter Radio 

My favorite website when it comes to covering the state legislature. They archive the audio from House and Senate sessions, as well as the committee meetings they cover. If I had the funding, I'd be in Raleigh doing a video version of this website.


WRAL-TV 

Like it or not, they're Johnny-on-the-spot until some enterprising citizen journalist arrives on the scene. The menu system is confusing and changes frequently take place, so it is useless for me to link to a section where they cover state government news, because it'll be broken in a month or two. When they stream live events, they will wait until the last minute to post anything on their website, so be prepared to miss the first couple of minutes of an event looking for the link to their live stream.

Under The Dome

A blog run by the Raleigh News & Observer. It remains head and shoulders above the coverage by other media organizations in the state. 

Raleigh News & Observer

The only thing that recommends this paper is that it is right there in Raleigh and they can't help but cover the state legislature when they're in session. 

Greensboro News-Record

These guys used to have a good section on state government, but it has gone to seed since WRAL-TV poached Mark Binker from them. I'm posting a link to them because I hope they find someone to replace him soon.


Opinion Media 


The biggest lie told by anyone in the world of public policy is often found in the incorporation papers or the about pages of websites of public policy organizations. None of them of non-partisan, and all of them have partisan axes to grind in order to further their own agendas. Caveat emptor. 


Carolina Journal

A project of the John Locke Foundation that does what newspapers used to do before they became cheerleaders for the Left. Covers news from the right.

NC Policy Watch

The progressive version of the Carolina Journal. Covers news from the left.

John W Pope Civitas Institute

A conservative public policy institute that presents a conservative view on all things state government. I prefer this over anything from the John Locke people. 








Sunday, January 27, 2013

Magnitude 1.5 Quake in Eastern Tennessee

A minor earthquake (Magnitude 1.5) occurred this afternoon 19km ESE of Etowah, Tennessee. More details can be seen on the USGS website. I've included an infographic showing the location and magnitude of that tremor below, as well as infographics showing other recent quakes in our area on different time scales. Click on each one of them to see a larger version in another tab.



January 27, 2013 Earthquake in eastern Tennessee




Infographic showing nearby earthquakes in 2012 that were Magnitude 2.0 and above.



Infographic showing nearby earthquakes from 1973 to January 27, 2013, with several of the nearest quakes annotated with magnitude and date of the quakes.

Happy 257th Birthday Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart!


Two hundred and fifty seven years ago today, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born


Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, born Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart (27 January 1756 – 5 December 1791), was a prolific and influential composer of the Classical era.

Mozart showed prodigious ability from his earliest childhood. Already competent on keyboard and violin, he composed from the age of five and performed before European royalty. At 17, he was engaged as a court musician in Salzburg, but grew restless and travelled in search of a better position, always composing abundantly. While visiting Vienna in 1781, he was dismissed from his Salzburg position. He chose to stay in the capital, where he achieved fame but little financial security. During his final years in Vienna, he composed many of his best-known symphonies, concertos, and operas, and portions of the Requiem, which was largely unfinished at the time of his death. The circumstances of his early death have been much mythologized. He was survived by his wife Constanze and two sons.

Mozart learned voraciously from others, and developed a brilliance and maturity of style that encompassed the light and graceful along with the dark and passionate. He composed over 600 works, many acknowledged as pinnacles of symphonic, concertante, chamber, operatic, and choral music. He is among the most enduringly popular of classical composers, and his influence on subsequent Western art music is profound; Beethoven composed his own early works in the shadow of Mozart, and Joseph Haydn wrote that "posterity will not see such a talent again in 100 years."

Source: Wikipedia

Indeed, It's been a couple hundred years and we still haven't seen anyone like him since, and maybe never will. In honor the 257th anniversary of his birth, here is about four hours of his music.



Part One track list:

1 .- Allegro
02 - Adagio
03 - Rondo- Allegio
04 - Allegra Moderato
05 - Romanza- Andente
06 - Rondo- Allegro Vivace
07 - Allego Assia
08 - Andante
09 - Allegro In D minor
10 - Cassation
11 - Clarinet Concerto Ii
12 - Concierto Piano N12 I
13 - Concierto Piano N12 Ii
14 - Concierto Piano N12 Iii
15 - Concierto Piano N23 I
16 - Concierto Piano N23 Ii
17 - Concierto Piano N23 Iii



Part Two track list:

18 - Divertimento
19 - Eine Kleine Nachtmusik
20 - Flute Concierto D Major
21 - Horn Concerto
22 - Pequeña Serenata Nocturna I
23 - Pequeña Serenata Nocturna Ii
24 - Pequeña Serenata Nocturna Iii
25 - Pequeña Serenata Nocturna Iv
26 - Serenade
27 - Sinfonia 41 I
28 - Sinfonia 41 Ii
29 - Sinfonia 41 Iii
30 - Sinfonia 41 Iv
31 - Symphony N24
32 - Symphony N29
33 - Symphony N31
34 - Symphony N33
35 - Symphony N35
36 - Symphony N36
37 - Symphony N38
38 - Symphony N39
39 - Symphony N40 I


NASA Day of Remembrance

Scroll down to see tributes to each individual crew.


Also the source of the names of the list of fallen astronauts I have used below.




Exploring a new frontier is a risky, but rewarding endeavor. The men and women who sign up to be astronauts are signing a blank check payable any amount, up to the life of the signer, during the course of their duty.

The following is a tribute to the astronauts who have given their lives in the performance of their duty. 




The Fallen



T-38 ACCIDENTSCHALLENGER ACCIDENT
Theodore C. FreemanFrancis "Dick" Scobee
October 31, 1964Michael J. Smith
Judith A. Resnik
Charles A. Bassett, IIEllison S. Onizuka
Elliot M. See, Jr.Ronald E. McNair
February 28,1966Gregory B. Jarvis
S. Christa McAuliffe
Clifton C. Williams, Jr.January 28, 1986
October 5, 1967
COMMERCIAL PLANE ACCIDENT
APOLLO ONE ACCIDENTManley L. "Sonny" Carter, Jr.
Virgil "Gus" Grissom
April 5, 1991
Edward H. White, II
Roger B. ChaffeeCOLUMBIA ACCIDENT
January 27, 1967Rick D. Husband
William C. McCool
X-15 ACCIDENT
Michael J. Adams
November 15, 1967
F-104 ACCIDENT
Robert H. Lawrence Jr.
February, 1, 2003
December 8,1967




NASA Day of Remembrance


Each January, we honor the Apollo 1, Challenger and Columbia crews, as well as other members of the NASA family who lost their lives supporting NASA’s mission of exploration. We thank them and their families for their extraordinary sacrifices in the service of our nation.


On this Day of Remembrance, as we remember our fallen heroes with tributes and public ceremonies, I will take part in a wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery. Across the country, all flags at NASA Headquarters and the NASA centers will be flown at half-mast in their memory.


Space exploration is a difficult and dangerous endeavor. We recognize these pioneers’ sacrifices each day with our ongoing commitment to safety. As an agency, we know the risks inherent in each mission. Ensuring the safety of our employees is our highest priority.


The legacy of those we have lost is our ongoing work and the inspiration of generations of new space explorers. Every day, with each new challenge we overcome and every discovery we make, we honor these remarkable men and women. Please join me in working to fulfill their dreams for the future.


Charles F. Bolden, Jr.
NASA Administrator


A tribute to the heroes of Apollo 1





The heroes of Apollo 1 who were killed in a fire on the launchpad during a test 
Edward White, Command Pilot
Virgil Gus Grissom, Commander
Roger Chaffee, Pilot


January 27, 1967.


That date doesn't mean anything significant to most Americans. On that day, three men died in the service of our nation as they conducted a routine test on their command capsule. Much has been written about that day and these men. I cannot add anything substantial to what has gone before, so I will just point to what I think were the best attempts to explain what happened, and to remember these men who died on our journey to the Moon.



A video tribute to the crew of Apollo 1.


On January 27, 1967, tragedy struck the Apollo program when a flash fire occurred in command module 012 during a launch pad test of the Apollo/Saturn space vehicle being prepared for the first piloted flight, the AS-204 mission. Three astronauts, Lt. Col. Virgil I. Grissom, a veteran of Mercury and Gemini missions; Lt. Col. Edward H. White, the astronaut who had performed the first United States extravehicular activity during the Gemini program; and Roger B. Chaffee, an astronaut preparing for his first space flight, died in this tragic accident.


A seven-member board, under the direction of the NASA Langley Research Center Director, Dr. Floyd L. Thompson, conducted a comprehensive investigation to pinpoint the cause of the fire. The final report, completed in April 1967 was subsequently submitted to the NASA Administrator. The report presented the results of the investigation and made specific recommendations that led to major design and engineering modifications, and revisions to test planning, test discipline, manufacturing processes and procedures, and quality control. With these changes, the overall safety of the command and service module and the lunar module was increased substantially. The AS-204 mission was redesignated Apollo I in honor of the crew.





This is an audio recording of the actual last moments of the crew of Apollo 1, with commentary and a play by play of the initial accident investigation.





This is a dramatization of the tragic event, as presented during the "From the Earth to the Moon" miniseries on HBO.

For more information on this accident, please visit the following webpages:

Apollo 1 Memorial Foundation

National Space Data Center Apollo 1 page



A tribute to the heroes of STS-51L Challenger




The crew of the Challenger
Back row L to R  Ellison Onizuka, Christa McAuliffe, Gregory Jarvis, Judith Resnik 
Front row L to R Michael J Smith, Francis Dick Scobee, Ronald McNair


The Challenger Accident was different from the Apollo 1 Accident because it happened during the launch, and many people witnessed the explosion. I had stayed home from school in order to watch the launch because they had become so routine, there was no effort made by the school to allow students who were interested to watch them or integrate them into lesson plans.


Apparently, network television had the same idea about spaceflight becoming routine, because they did not cover the launch, and I did not have satellite TV so I couldn't watch it on the NASA Channel or even CNN, which was the only network to carry it live. (This was in the days before broadband Internet). So I was digging through the shortwave radio stations, trying to find one that was covering it when my dad called from work. He told me the shuttle had blown up. I didn't believe him at first because I thought he was teasing me, and he told me to cut the TV on and see. I did, and I saw.





Video courtesy: NASA


NASA documnetary detailing the events surrounding the loss of OV-099, Space Shuttle Challenger, shortly after the launch of the 25th flight of the Space Transportation System, Mission STS-51L, on 28 January, 1986, and the subsequent investigation into the loss of the vehicle and its crew of seven. The investigation shows that the Solid Rocket Booster field joints were of an insufficiently fault-tolerant design and when the vehicle was launched at below-normal temperatures, hot exhaust gasses leaked on ignition, damaging the integrity of the field joint, leading to a breach in the external tank and destruction of the orbiter.





This is a video of the live CNN broadcast of the launch, the only network to carry it live.





This is a live television feed of the accident that was involved in gathering B-Roll from the viewing stand for guests of NASA during the launch, including families of the crew.


Amateur Video of the Launch from Central Florida (ABC News)






Here are the unforgettable words of President Ronald Reagan memorializing the Challenger crew.


Transcript:




We come together today to mourn the loss of seven brave Americans, to share the grief we all feel and, perhaps in that sharing, to find the strength to bear our sorrow and the courage to look for the seeds of hope.
Our nation's loss is first a profound personal loss to the family and the friends and loved ones of our shuttle astronauts. To those they have left behind - the mothers, the fathers, the husbands and wives, brothers, sisters, and yes, especially the children - all of America stands beside you in your time of sorrow.


What we say today is only an inadequate expression of what we carry in our hearts. Words pale in the shadow of grief; they seem insufficient even to measure the brave sacrifice of those you loved and we so admired. Their truest testimony will not be in the words we speak, but in the way they led their lives and in the way they lost those lives - with dedication, honor and an unquenchable desire to explore this mysterious and beautiful universe.


The best we can do is remember our seven astronauts - our ChallengerSeven - remember them as they lived, bringing life and love and joy to those who knew them and pride to a nation.
They came from all parts of this great country - from South Carolina to Washington State; Ohio to Mohawk, New York; Hawaii to North Carolina to Concord, New Hampshire. They were so different, yet in their mission, their quest, they held so much in common.


We remember Dick Scobee, the commander who spoke the last words we heard from the space shuttle Challenger. He served as a fighter pilot in Vietnam, earning many medals for bravery, and later as a test pilot of advanced aircraft before joining the space program. Danger was a familiar companion to Commander Scobee.


We remember Michael Smith, who earned enough medals as a combat pilot to cover his chest, including the Navy Distinguished Flying Cross, three Air Medals - and the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry with Silver Star, in gratitude from a nation that he fought to keep free.
We remember Judith Resnik, known as J.R. to her friends, always smiling, always eager to make a contribution, finding beauty in the music she played on her piano in her off-hours.
We remember Ellison Onizuka, who, as a child running barefoot through the coffee fields and macadamia groves of Hawaii, dreamed of someday traveling to the Moon. Being an Eagle Scout, he said, had helped him soar to the impressive achievement of his career.


We remember Ronald McNair, who said that he learned perseverance in the cotton fields of South Carolina. His dream was to live aboard the space station, performing experiments and playing his saxophone in the weightlessness of space; Ron, we will miss your saxophone and we will build your space station.
We remember Gregory Jarvis. On that ill-fated flight he was carrying with him a flag of his university in Buffalo, New York - a small token he said, to the people who unlocked his future.


We remember Christa McAuliffe, who captured the imagination of the entire nation, inspiring us with her pluck, her restless spirit of discovery; a teacher, not just to her students, but to an entire people, instilling us all with the excitement of this journey we ride into the future.


We will always remember them, these skilled professionals, scientists and adventurers, these artists and teachers and family men and women, and we will cherish each of their stories - stories of triumph and bravery, stories of true American heroes.


On the day of the disaster, our nation held a vigil by our television sets. In one cruel moment, our exhilaration turned to horror; we waited and watched and tried to make sense of what we had seen. That night, I listened to a call-in program on the radio: people of every age spoke of their sadness and the pride they felt in `our astronauts.' Across America, we are reaching out, holding hands, finding comfort in one another.


The sacrifice of your loved ones has stirred the soul of our nation and, through the pain, our hearts have been opened to a profound truth - the future is not free, the story of all human progress is one of a struggle against all odds. We learned again that this America, which Abraham Lincoln called the last best hope of man on Earth, was built on heroism and noble sacrifice. It was built by men and women like our seven star voyagers, who answered a call beyond duty, who gave more than was expected or required, and who gave it with little thought to worldly reward.


We think back to the pioneers of an earlier century, and the sturdy souls who took their families and the belongings and set out into the frontier of the American West. Often, they met with terrible hardship. Along the Oregon Trail you can still see the grave markers of those who fell on the way. But grief only steeled them to the journey ahead.


Today, the frontier is space and the boundaries of human knowledge. Sometimes, when we reach for the stars, we fall short. But we must pick ourselves up again and press on despite the pain. Our nation is indeed fortunate that we can still draw on immense reservoirs of courage, character and fortitude - that we are still blessed with heroes like those of the space shuttle Challenger.


Dick Scobee knew that every launching of a space shuttle is a technological miracle. And he said, if something ever does go wrong, I hope that doesn't mean the end to the space shuttle program. Every family member I talked to asked specifically that we continue the program, that that is what their departed loved one would want above all else. We will not disappoint them.


Today, we promise Dick Scobee and his crew that their dream lives on; that the future they worked so hard to build will become reality. The dedicated men and women of NASA have lost seven members of their family. Still, they too, must forge ahead, with a space program that is effective, safe and efficient, but bold and committed.


Man will continue his conquest of space. To reach out for new goals and ever greater achievements - that is the way we shall commemorate our seven Challenger heroes.


Dick, Mike, Judy, El, Ron, Greg and Christa - your families and your country mourn your passing. We bid you goodbye. We will never forget you. For those who knew you well and loved you, the pain will be deep and enduring. A nation, too, will long feel the loss of her seven sons and daughters, her seven good friends. We can find consolation only in faith, for we know in our hearts that you who flew so high and so proud now make your home beyond the stars, safe in God's promise of eternal life.


May God bless you all and give you comfort in this difficult time.







A performance of the song written by John Denver in tribute to the crew of the Challenger. He was originally considered for the flight and underwent training before a teacher was selected.


I still think it is a good idea to send gifted artists into space so that they might use their talents to share with the rest of humanity what it is like.







Here is a discussion on the findings of the Presidential Commision that was broadcast on satellite TV Worldnet. 


For more information on the Challenger accident, please visit the following websites:


Report of the PRESIDENTIAL COMMISSION on the Space Shuttle Challenger Accident


NASA webpage of links to information on the Challenger accident





TV Coverage of the Challenger Accident (54 videos encompassing several hours of archived live video)


A tribute to the heroes of STS-107 Columbia




The Crew of the Columbia 
Seated in front are astronauts Rick D. Husband on the left, mission commander, Kalpana Chawla, mission specialist, and William C. McCool, pilot. Standing are, from the left, astronauts David M. Brown, Laurel B. Clark, and Michael P. Anderson, all mission specialists, and Ilan Ramon, payload specialist representing the Israeli Space Agency.



The Columbia breakup happened on Saturday, February 1, 2003. It disintegrated over Texas stretching from Trophy Club to Tyler and into parts of Louisiana during re-entry into the Earth's atmosphere, resulting in the death of all seven crew members, shortly before it was scheduled to conclude its 28th mission, STS-107.
The loss of Columbia was a result of damage sustained during launch when a piece of foam insulation the size of a small briefcase broke off the Space Shuttle external tank (the main propellant tank) under the aerodynamic forces of launch. The debris struck the leading edge of the left wing, damaging the Shuttle's thermal protection system (TPS), which protects it from heat generated with the atmosphere during re-entry. While Columbia was still in orbit, some engineers suspected damage, but NASA managers limited the investigation, on the grounds that little could be done even if problems were found. 


NASA's original Shuttle design specifications stated that the external tank was not to shed foam or other debris; as such, strikes upon the Shuttle itself were safety issues that needed to be resolved before a launch was cleared. Launches were often given the go-ahead as engineers came to see the foam shedding and debris strikes as inevitable and unresolvable, with the rationale that they were either not a threat to safety, or an acceptable risk. The majority of Shuttle launches recorded such foam strikes and thermal tile scarring. During re-entry of STS-107, the damaged area allowed the hot gases to penetrate and destroy the internal wing structure, rapidly causing the in-flight breakup of the vehicle. An extensive ground search in parts of Texas, Louisiana and Arkansas recovered crew remains and many vehicle fragments.




Initial NASA TV Coverage of Columbia Accident





Amateur video shot of the final moments of the Columbia


Cockpit video of the momets leading up to the destruction of the Columbia.





US Apache Helicopter crews were on a training mission with foreign pilots on the morning of February 1, 2003. Gun-camera footage picks up the shuttle as it enters the atmosphere over Central Texas. The footage was released a couple of days after the crash. Video is courtesy of Fort Hood and DOD.





An audio podcast discussion accompanied by photos of the Cloumbia breakup and recovery.





Here is a video playlist of live coverage of the accident and immediately thereafter by NASA, CNN and other TV Networks.

For more information regarding the Columbia accident, please visit these websites:






Bookmark and Share


Inspiration for Innovation and the New Race for Space



I am very glad to see Fora TV post this video in the open, and not behind a paywall, so that we can see it in its entirety.

From the video description:

Aerospace entrepreneur, Virgin Galactic spacecraft designer, and founder of aerospace research firm Scaled Composites, Burt Rutan is a bold visionary with a passion for the advancement of technology. Named "Entrepreneur of the Year" by Inc. magazine and one of "The World's 100 Most Influential People" by TIME, Rutan designed the legendary Voyager aircraft -- the first to circle the world nonstop without refueling. He is also responsible for the design of SpaceShipOne, the world's first privately funded spacecraft which, in 2004, became the first private rocket plane ever to put a man into space. Rutan has been profiled by 60 Minutes and featured on the covers of both LIFE and TIME.


Saturday, January 26, 2013

Anonymous Hacks U.S. Sentencing Commission




DNS blocking has taken place for www.ussc.gov and is no longer forwarding to the server. However you can still access it via the IP address: http://66.153.19.162/  The video above is what is displayed at the USSC website at the time I write this. 

Also, you can view a snapshot of the site from freze.it (Thanks to Tommy Leung for the information via Twitter) http://freze.it/1mT

#OpLastResort seems to be going in full force, along with the start of #Warhead1 . Only time will tell how this will unfold, but it seems apparent to me that the chosen verbiage in the video is deliberate and is not one to be taken lightly.

As mentioned earlier, this video claims to be a direct response to the death of Aaron Swartz, who committed suicide earlier this month. (Context on Aaron's situation: http://youtu.be/uregGZBzhvw

Pastebin is a place I found where instructions are being passed along by members of Anonymous for other members of Anonymous.

What do you think about the hacking of the United States Sentencing Commission's website?




__________________________________________________


*Full transcript from video and site*

Citizens of the world,

Anonymous has observed for some time now the trajectory of justice in the United States with growing concern. We have marked the departure of this system from the noble ideals in which it was born and enshrined. We have seen the erosion of due process, the dilution of constitutional rights, the usurpation of the rightful authority of courts by the "discretion" of prosecutors. We have seen how the law is wielded less and less to uphold justice, and more and more to exercise control, authority and power in the interests of oppression or personal gain.

We have been watching, and waiting.

Two weeks ago today, a line was crossed. Two weeks ago today, Aaron Swartz was killed. Killed because he faced an impossible choice. Killed because he was forced into playing a game he could not win -- a twisted and distorted perversion of justice -- a game where the only winning move was not to play.

Anonymous immediately convened an emergency council to discuss our response to this tragedy. After much heavy-hearted discussion, the decision was upheld to engage the United States Department of Justice and its associated executive branches in a game of a similar nature, a game in which the only winning move is not to play.

Last year the Federal Bureau of Investigation revelled in porcine glee at its successful infiltration of certain elements of Anonymous. This infiltration was achieved through the use of the *same tactics which lead to Aaron Swartz' death. It would not have been possible were it not for the power of federal prosecutors to thoroughly destroy the lives of any hacktivists they apprehend through the very real threat of highly disproportionate sentencing.

As a result of the FBI's infiltration and entrapment tactics, several more of our brethren now face similar disproportionate persecution, the balance of their lives hanging on the severely skewed scales of a broken justice system.

We have felt within our hearts a burning rage in reaction to these events, but we have not allowed ourselves to be drawn into a foolish and premature response. We have bidden our time, operating in the shadows, adapting our tactics and honing our abilities. We have allowed the FBI and its masters in government -- both the puppet and the shadow government that controls it -- to believe they had struck a crippling blow to our infrastructure, that they had demoralized us, paralyzed us with paranoia and fear. We have held our tongue and waited.

With Aaron's death we can wait no longer. The time has come to show the United States Department of Justice and its affiliates the true meaning of infiltration. The time has come to give this system a taste of its own medicine. The time has come for them to feel the helplessness and fear that comes with being forced into a game where the odds are stacked against them.

This website was chosen due to the symbolic nature of its purpose -- the federal sentencing guidelines which enable prosecutors to cheat citizens of their constitutionally-guaranteed right to a fair trial, by a jury of their peers -- the federal sentencing guidelines which are in clear violation of the 8th amendment protection against cruel and unusual punishments. This website was also chosen due to the nature of its visitors. It is far from the only government asset we control, and we have exercised such control for quite some time...

There has been a lot of fuss recently in the technological media regarding such operations as Red October, the widespread use of vulnerable browsers and the availability of zero-day exploits for these browsers and their plugins. None of this comes of course as any surprise to us, but it is perhaps good that those within the information security industry are making the extent of these threats more widely understood.

Still there is nothing quite as educational as a well-conducted demonstration...

Through this websites and various others that will remain unnamed, we have been conducting our own infiltration. We did not restrict ourselves like the FBI to one high-profile compromise. We are far more ambitious, and far more capable. Over the last two weeks we have wound down this operation, removed all traces of leakware from the compromised systems, and taken down the injection apparatus used to detect and exploit vulnerable machines.

We have enough fissile material for multiple warheads. Today we are launching the first of these. Operation Last Resort has begun...

Warhead - U S - D O J - L E A - 2013 . A E E 256 is primed and armed. It has been quietly distributed to numerous mirrors over the last few days and is available for download from this website now. We encourage all Anonymous to syndicate this file as widely as possible.

The contents are various and we won't ruin the speculation by revealing them. Suffice it to say, everyone has secrets, and some things are not meant to be public. At a regular interval commencing today, we will choose one media outlet and supply them with heavily redacted partial contents of the file. Any media outlets wishing to be eligible for this program must include within their reporting a means of secure communications.

We have not taken this action lightly, nor without consideration of the possible consequences. Should we be forced to reveal the trigger-key to this warhead, we understand that there will be collateral damage. We appreciate that many who work within the justice system believe in those principles that it has lost, corrupted, or abandoned, that they do not bear the full responsibility for the damages caused by their occupation.

It is our hope that this warhead need never be detonated.

However, in order for there to be a peaceful resolution to this crisis, certain things need to happen. There must be reform of outdated and poorly-envisioned legislation, written to be so broadly applied as to make a felony crime out of violation of terms of service, creating in effect vast swathes of crimes, and allowing for selective punishment. There must be reform of mandatory minimum sentencing. There must be a return to proportionality of punishment with respect to actual harm caused, and consideration of motive and mens rea. The inalienable right to a presumption of innocence and the recourse to trial and possibility of exoneration must be returned to its sacred status, and not gambled away by pre-trial bargaining in the face of overwhelming sentences, unaffordable justice and disfavourable odds. Laws must be upheld unselectively, and not used as a weapon of government to make examples of those it deems threatening to its power.

For good reason the statue of lady justice is blindfolded. No more should her innocence be besmirked, her scales tipped, nor her swordhand guided. Furthermore there must be a solemn commitment to freedom of the internet, this last great common space of humanity, and to the common ownership of information to further the common good.

We make this statement do not expect to be negotiated with; we do not desire to be negotiated with. We understand that due to the actions we take we exclude ourselves from the system within which solutions are found. There are others who serve that purpose, people far more respectable than us, people whose voices emerge from the light, and not the shadows. These voices are already making clear the reforms that have been necessary for some time, and are outright required now.

It is these people that the justice system, the government, and law enforcement must engage with. Their voices are already ringing strong with a chorus of determined resolution. We demand only that this chorus is not ignored. We demand the government does not make the mistake of hoping that time will dampen its ringing, that they can ride out this wave of determination, that business as usual can continue after a sufficient period of lip-service and back-patting.


Not this time. This time there will be change, or there will be chaos...

-Anonymous

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Report: Whitley Products Closes Doors

**January 30, 2013** Five days after I posted this story, WLOS-TV has a story on this closing.

Tipped off by comments on Facebook, I'm reporting that it looks like Whitley Products has ceased operations and closed the doors at it's three remaining plants.


A phone call to Whitley’s in Plymouth resulted in a quick conversation with Plant Manager, Rick Green in which he read the following statement:

“Please be advised that Whitley Products, Inc.’s senior lending has again refused to provide the necessary funding to enable Whitley to continue its operations. As a consequence, and with great regret, we must inform you that Whitley Products, Inc. has terminated operations, effective today. For our employees, this means that their employment is terminated, effective immediately.
Possession and control of all Whitley’s operating assets is now held by Keltic Financial Partners II, Lp.”


Source: WTCA-AM Radio




The Whitley Products, Inc website has (as of 6.22pm) not been updated with any indication of the shutdown.

This would put 108 employees in Franklin out of work.

I worked for Whitley Products in the 1990's and management was always telling us that the company was ever so close to being shut down because it wasn't very profitable. 

Democrats Take Aim At Weapons Ban


I'm starting off my coverage of this event with a commentary.


COMMENTARY

The Democrats are taking aim at another weapons ban, this time under the auspices of US Senator Dianne Feinstein's Assault Weapons Ban of 2013. This is a bill that proposes to ban weapons and to force the registration of previously purchased weapons that meet the criteria for being banned and illegally forces these legal owners to undergo a background check. This, in my opinion, violates the ex post facto provisions in the US Constitution. [link] But, I don't expect Democrats to be people who would respect any provision of our constitution if it stands in the way of something they want.

The introduction of this bill should be the clarion call to awaken a movement so large that it will dwarf the Tea Party of 2009. What I think this new movement should do is to work tirelessly to oppose these members of Congress and to contribute to their defeat when they next come up for election. We should work to ensure that it would be political suicide for anyone to introduce a similar bill for the next generation.

Video and details are below.


C-SPAN Video of the entire event is available at C-SPAN.



Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and a group of Senate Democrats on Thursday introduced legislation to ban the sale and manufacture of more than 150 types of semi-automatic weapons with military-style features.

The legislation also bans magazines holding more than 10 rounds of ammunition and requires people who already own assault rifles to use secure storage and safety devices and bars them from selling high-capacity clips.

“No weapon is taken from anyone,” said Feinstein. “The purpose is to dry up the supply of these weapons over time.”
Unlike the 1994 assault-weapons ban, there is no sunset provision in Feinstein’s newest gun-control bill.

Source: The Hill



Here is a bill summary and a list of the weapons that would be banned under the bill:

Assault Weapons Ban of 2013

Mass shootings in Newtown, Aurora, and Tucson have demonstrated all too clearly the need to regulate military-style assault weapons and high capacity ammunition magazines. These weapons allow a gunman to fire a large number of rounds quickly and without having to reload.

What the bill does:

The legislation bans the saletransfermanufacturing and importation of:
  • All semiautomatic rifles that can accept a detachable magazine and have at least one military feature: pistol grip; forward grip; folding, telescoping, or detachable stock; grenade launcher or rocket launcher; barrel shroud; or threaded barrel.
  • All semiautomatic pistols that can accept a detachable magazine and have at least one military feature: threaded barrel; second pistol grip; barrel shroud; capacity to accept a detachable magazine at some location outside of the pistol grip; or semiautomatic version of an automatic firearm.
  • All semiautomatic rifles and handguns that have a fixed magazine with the capacity to accept more than 10 rounds.
  • All semiautomatic shotguns that have a folding, telescoping, or detachable stock; pistol grip; fixed magazine with the capacity to accept more than 5 rounds; ability to accept a detachable magazine; forward grip; grenade launcher or rocket launcher; or shotgun with a revolving cylinder.
  • All ammunition feeding devices (magazines, strips, and drums) capable of accepting more than 10 rounds.
  • 157 specifically-named firearms (listed at the end of this page).
The legislation excludes the following weapons from the bill:
  • Any weapon that is lawfully possessed at the date of the bill’s enactment;
  • Any firearm manually operated by a bolt, pump, lever or slide action;
  • Assault weapons used by military, law enforcement, and retired law enforcement; and
  • Antique weapons.
The legislation protects hunting and sporting firearms:
  • The bill excludes 2,258 legitimate hunting and sporting rifles and shotguns by specific make and model.
The legislation strengthens the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban and state bans by:
  • Moving from a 2-characteristic test to a 1-characteristic test.
    • The bill also makes the ban harder to evade by eliminating the easy-to-remove bayonet mounts and flash suppressors from the characteristics test.
  • Banning dangerous aftermarket modifications and workarounds.
    • Bump or slide fire stocks, which are modified stocks that enable semi-automatic weapons to fire at rates similar to fully automatic machine guns.
    • So-called “bullet buttons” that allow the rapid replacement of ammunition magazines, frequently used as a workaround to prohibitions on detachable magazines.
    • Thumbhole stocks, a type of stock that was created as a workaround to avoid prohibitions on pistol grips.
  • Adding a ban on the importation of assault weapons and large-capacity magazines.
  • Eliminating the 10-year sunset that allowed the original federal ban to expire.
The legislation addresses the millions of assault weapons and large-capacity magazines currently in existence by:
  • Requiring a background check on all sales or transfers of a grandfathered assault weapon.
    • This background check can be run through the FBI or, if a state chooses, initiated with a state agency, as with the existing background check system.
  • Prohibiting the sale or transfer of large-capacity ammunition feeding devices lawfully possessed on the date of enactment of the bill.
  • Allowing states and localities to use federal Byrne JAG grant funds to conduct a voluntary buy-back program for grandfathered assault weapons and large-capacity ammunition feeding devices.
  • Imposing a safe storage requirement for grandfathered firearms, to keep them away from prohibited persons.
  • Requiring that assault weapons and large-capacity ammunition feeding devices manufactured after the date of the bill’s enactment be engraved with the serial number and date of manufacture of the weapon

Assault weapon bans have been proven to be effective

The 1994 Assault Weapons Ban was effective at reducing crime and getting these military-style weapons off our streets. Since the ban expired, more than 350 people have been killed and more than 450 injured by these weapons.
  • A Justice Department study of the assault weapons ban found that it was responsible for a 6.7% decrease in total gun murders, holding all other factors equal.
    • Source: Jeffrey A. Roth & Christopher S. Koper, “Impact Evaluation of the Public Safety and Recreational Firearms Use Protection Act of 1994,” (March 1997).
  • The same study also found that “Assault weapons are disproportionately involved in murders with multiple victims, multiple wounds per victim, and police officers as victims.”
  • The use of assault weapons in crime declined by more than two-thirds by about nine years after 1994 Assault Weapons Ban took effect.
    • Source: Christopher S. Koper, “An Updated Assessment of the Federal Assault Weapons Ban: Impacts on Gun Markets and Gun Violence, 1994-2003” (June 2004), University of Pennsylvania, Report to the National Institute of Justice, U.S. Department of Justice.
  • The percentage of firearms seized by police in Virginia that had high-capacity magazines dropped significantly during the ban. That figure has doubled since the ban expired.
  • When Maryland imposed a more stringent ban on assault pistols and high-capacity magazines in 1994, it led to a 55% drop in assault pistols recovered by the Baltimore Police Department.
    • Source: Douglas S. Weil & Rebecca C. Knox, Letter to the Editor, The Maryland Ban on the Sale of Assault Pistols and High-Capacity Magazines: Estimating the Impact in Baltimore, 87 Am. J. of Public Health 2, Feb. 1997.
  • 37% of police departments reported seeing a noticeable increase in criminals’ use of assault weapons since the 1994 federal ban expired.
    • Source: Police Executive Research Forum, Guns and Crime: Breaking New Ground by Focusing on the Local Impact (May 2010).  

List of firearms prohibited by name

Rifles: All AK types, including the following: AK, AK47, AK47S, AK–74, AKM, AKS, ARM, MAK90, MISR, NHM90, NHM91, Rock River Arms LAR–47, SA85, SA93, Vector Arms AK–47, VEPR, WASR–10, and WUM, IZHMASH Saiga AK, MAADI AK47 and ARM, Norinco 56S, 56S2, 84S, and 86S, Poly Technologies AK47 and AKS;

All AR types, including the following: AR–10, AR–15, Armalite M15 22LR Carbine, Armalite M15–T, Barrett REC7, Beretta AR–70, Bushmaster ACR, Bushmaster Carbon 15, Bushmaster MOE series, Bushmaster XM15, Colt Match Target Rifles, DoubleStar AR rifles, DPMS Tactical Rifles, Heckler & Koch MR556, Olympic Arms, Remington R–15 rifles, Rock River Arms LAR–15, Sig Sauer SIG516 rifles, Smith & Wesson M&P15 Rifles, Stag Arms AR rifles, Sturm, Ruger & Co. SR556 rifles; Barrett M107A1; Barrett M82A1; Beretta CX4 Storm; Calico Liberty Series; CETME Sporter; Daewoo K–1, K–2, Max 1, Max 2, AR 100, and AR 110C; Fabrique Nationale/FN Herstal FAL, LAR, 22 FNC, 308 Match, L1A1 Sporter, PS90, SCAR, and FS2000; Feather Industries AT–9; Galil Model AR and Model ARM; Hi-Point Carbine; HK–91, HK–93, HK–94, HK–PSG–1 and HK USC; Kel-Tec Sub–2000, SU–16, and RFB; SIG AMT, SIG PE–57, Sig Sauer SG 550, and Sig Sauer SG 551; Springfield Armory SAR–48; Steyr AUG; Sturm, Ruger Mini-14 Tactical Rife M–14/20CF;

All Thompson rifles, including the following: Thompson M1SB, Thompson T1100D, Thompson T150D, Thompson T1B, Thompson T1B100D, Thompson T1B50D, Thompson T1BSB, Thompson T1–C, Thompson T1D, Thompson T1SB, Thompson T5, Thompson T5100D, Thompson TM1, Thompson TM1C; UMAREX UZI Rifle; UZI Mini Carbine, UZI Model A Carbine, and UZI Model B Carbine; Valmet M62S, M71S, and M78; Vector Arms UZI Type; Weaver Arms Nighthawk; Wilkinson Arms Linda Carbine.
Pistols: All AK–47 types, including the following: Centurion 39 AK pistol, Draco AK–47 pistol, HCR AK–47 pistol, IO Inc. Hellpup AK–47 pistol, Krinkov pistol, Mini Draco AK–47 pistol, Yugo Krebs Krink pistol;

All AR–15 types, including the following: American Spirit AR–15 pistol, Bushmaster Carbon 15 pistol, DoubleStar Corporation AR pistol, DPMS AR–15 pistol, Olympic Arms AR–15 pistol, Rock River Arms LAR 15 pistol; Calico Liberty pistols; DSA SA58 PKP FAL pistol; Encom MP–9 and MP–45; Heckler & Koch model SP-89 pistol; Intratec AB–10, TEC–22 Scorpion, TEC–9, and TEC–DC9; Kel-Tec PLR 16 pistol;

The following MAC types: MAC–10, MAC–11; Masterpiece Arms MPA A930 Mini Pistol, MPA460 Pistol, MPA Tactical Pistol, and MPA Mini Tactical Pistol; Military Armament Corp. Ingram M–11, Velocity Arms VMAC; Sig Sauer P556 pistol; Sites Spectre;

All Thompson types, including the following: Thompson TA510D, Thompson TA5;

All UZI types, including: Micro-UZI.
Shotguns: Franchi LAW–12 and SPAS 12;

All IZHMASH Saiga 12 types, including the following:IZHMASH Saiga 12, IZHMASH Saiga 12S, IZHMASH Saiga 12S EXP–01, IZHMASH Saiga 12K, IZHMASH Saiga 12K–030, IZHMASH Saiga 12K–040 Taktika; Streetsweeper; Striker 12.
Belt-fed semiautomatic firearms: 

All belt-fed semiautomatic firearms including TNW M2HB.
Source: US Senator Dianne Feinstein