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Flashback: Conservatives mocked DHS report warning of ‘antigovernment’ violence

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Arizona shooter left trail of anti-government screeds on Internet

Conservatives derided and dismissed an April 2009 report by the Department of Homeland Security warning law enforcement officials of a spike in violence fueled in part by “antigovernment” sentiments, which in retrospect appears to have been a chilling omen for the tragic Arizona shooting Saturday.

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The report (PDF), which was coordinated with the FBI and titled, “Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment,” warned of a rise in violence spurred by the economic downturn and the election of the nation’s first African-American president.

Eighteen were shot, some fatally, in the attacks Saturday at a Tucson grocery store, including Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (AZ), who was critically wounded, as well as members of her staff and a federal judge.

The suspected gunman, Jared Lee Loughner, 22, has apparently posted anti-government screeds in videos on YouTube — first uncovered by Talking Points Memo‘s Evan McMorris-Santoro — which include paranoid rantings about the government, mind control and grammar.

“In conclusion, reading the second United States Constitution, I can’t trust the current government because of the ratifications,” Loughner wrote in one video. “The government is implying mind control and brainwash on the people by controlling grammar.”

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“You’re a treasurer for a new currency, listener? You create and distribute your new currency, listener?” he continued. “You don’t allow the government to control your grammar structure, listener?”

“No! I won’t pay debt with a currency that’s not backed by gold and silver!”

In the report, the DHS defined “rightwing” in part as groups and individuals “that are mainly antigovernment, rejecting federal authority in favor of state or local authority, or rejecting government authority entirely.” (Emphasis ours.)

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At the time, conservatives slammed the report as a political attack.

“The person who drafted the outrageous homeland security memo smearing veterans and conservatives should be fired,” former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA) remarked.

Conservative blogger Michelle Malkin called the report a “hit job on conservatives,” decrying it as “one of the most embarrassingly shoddy pieces of propaganda I’d ever read out of DHS. I couldn’t believe it was real.”

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Various other conservatives joined them in denouncing it as an attack on political opponents, and one right-wing group even filed a lawsuit against DHS.

In the last year and a half, there have been several acts of violence based on hate and anti-government sentiment, including an Austin pilot crashing a plane into an IRS building and a gunman shooting a guard at a Holocaust museum.


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Pope decries euthanasia as Italy court considers assisted suicide

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Pope Francis on Friday again spoke out against assisted suicide and euthanasia, days before a top Italian court is to examine the thorny question in the largely Roman Catholic country.

"We can and we must reject the temptation, which is also favored by legislative changes, to use medicine to satisfy a sick person's possible wish to die," the pope told a delegation from the Italian Doctors Order.

Italy's Constitutional Court has called a session for Tuesday to reexamine the question of potentially legalising assisted suicide, without mentioning euthanasia.

The court last October gave parliament a year to fill a legal void on the question, but MPs have not done so.

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How Facebook makes money when people are slaughtered

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The National Rifle Association nearly doubled its spending on pro-gun Facebook propaganda for three weeks after the mass shootings last month in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, according to analytics provided to The Intercept.The social advertising surge began just one day after the Aug. 3 El Paso massacre, which left 22 people dead, and on the same day as the Dayton killings, which took 10 lives. At one point in this period, the NRA was spending $29,000 on a day’s worth of Facebook ads, nearly four times as much as before the shootings, according to Pathmatics, a company that monitors online advertising spending. The ad spending was conducted through the NRA’s lobbying arm, the Institute for Legislative Action, which, in the four weeks before the shootings, spent on average just over $9,400 a day on Facebook ads.Between Aug. 4 and Aug. 25, the institute spent around $360,000 on Facebook — roughly $16,500 per day — reaching a peak of over $29,000 on Aug. 18, according to Pathmatics, which said that it gathered this data from a panel of hundreds of thousands of Facebook users who opt in to automatically share information about the ads they’re shown. Altogether, the ads bought in this period were viewed tens of millions of times, the analytics firm estimated. “The NRA’s ad spend has spiked significantly, which isn’t surprising for an organization in the midst of a reputation battle and crisis,” Pathmatics CEO Gabe Gottlieb said.

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Is a strange Twitter glitch censoring the left?

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The Working Families Party, a New York-based progressive political party, has a reputation befitting its name as a left-populist political organization. So when the organization endorsed the center-left Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren — who was once a hardcore Republican and has emphasized her capitalist credentials — over the explicitly democratic socialist candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, Sanders (I-Vt.) supporters were understandably disappointed. After all, the party overwhelmingly endorsed Sanders in the previous presidential election. What had changed?

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