- published 3/27 (Larry) - unpublished ?

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Opinion

In a bizarre and ludicrous attempt at “transparency,” the Obama administration has announced that it asked a secret court to approve a secret order to allow the government to keep spying on millions of Americans, and the secret court has granted its request.

Late on Friday, July 19, 2013, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) — a secret court which operates out of an undisclosed federal building in Washington, DC — quietly renewed an order from the National Security Agency to have Verizon Communications hand over hundreds of millions of Americans’ telephone records to government officials. In so doing, the government has doubled down on the numerous spying programs currently aimed at the American people, some of which were exposed by whistleblower Edward Snowden, who temporarily pulled back the veil on the government’s gigantic spying apparatus.

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Harry Truman is credited with the phrase - "If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.” Cooking icon Paula Deen has put that adage to the test. Deen admitted to using racial slurs in the past and now faces a great deal of “heat.” The Queen of Southern Cooking has been dethroned from television's Food Network, as well as losing numerous endorsements.

When the Deen controversy first broke, I didn't pay much attention – only glancing at the headlines. I thought that she had a senior moment (old age slur?) and said something stupid on camera. When I learned how mundane the “revelations” made in a court deposition were, it piqued my interest. Why did a non-story, become a headliner? Okay, a 66-year-old woman from Georgia admits to using a pejorative word for African Americans, in private conversations. Not exactly the most surprising admission ever made. I find it more remarkable that Deen was honest in her response to a very personal and to say the least – awkward inquiry. We can only hope for such candor from others who are public figures.

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What do college girls and bottled water have to do with the emerging American police state? Quite a bit, it seems.

Public outcry has gone viral over an incident in which a college student was targeted and terrorized by Alcohol Beverage Control agents (ABC) after she purchased sparkling water at a grocery store. The girl and her friends were eventually jailed for daring to evade their accosters, who failed to identify themselves or approach the young women in a non-threatening manner.

 

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As we gather with friends and family this July Fourth for backyard barbecues and fireworks, we should take a moment to honor not only the values of freedom and liberty that make our country great, but also those who have fought to protect them. North Carolina is the most military-friendly state in the nation - a place where we pride ourselves on the support we provide to our military, our veterans, and their families.

America's servicemen and women put their lives on the line for our country every day, leaving behind their families and loved ones, to keep us safe. As a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, I am committed to providing them with opportunities for future success.

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published: 10/18/2013
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