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APF spokesperson holds emotional press conference; lawyer quits project

Billings Gazette

TOM LUTEY Of The Gazette Staff October 2, 2009 7:40 pm

A sobbing spokeswoman for the secretive company occupying the Hardin jail welcomed an investigation by Montana’s attorney general Friday and expressed concerns for her own safety amid rumors about her company.

Becky Shay, in a 45-minute, wide-ranging press conference during which she occasionally broke into tears, said the California-based American Police Force welcomed an information request made Thursday by Montana Attorney General Steve Bullock.

Meanwhile, an attorney involved in the project cut ties with APF Friday and a second company, once named as a subcontractor, denied any involvement.

Shay said she hadn’t been formally served papers by the attorney general, who said he is concerned that APF might be violating the Montana Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Act. APF has reached a multimillion-dollar agreement with Hardin’s economic development arm, Two Rivers Authority, to run the empty Hardin jail, built two years ago to house inmates under contract. She said she had read of Bullock’s request in the news media.

Shay mentioned the attorney general’s request almost as a two-minute side note in a press conference that revealed that the former Billings Gazette reporter and new face of APF fears for her safety.

“A lot of work I’ve done has been to calm down or at least try to counteract comments from people I consider to be fear mongers,” Shay said. “What has happened in the interim, however, is those people’s friends around the nation have been in contact with me or tried to access me. I realize I’m being pretty vague so that we don’t support or incite these people. I don’t want my words to be taken out of context to further inflame the tensions that I’m working under.”

At that point, Shay began to cry. She asked TV media at the conference to turn their cameras off because, she said, “it’s important to me that I do not appear as vulnerable as I feel.”

APF officials, who rolled into Hardin last week in three black, Mercedes sport utility vehicles bearing faux police insignia and no license plates, have since departed, leaving Shay as the company’s lone point of contact for all comers, including those reading dire motives into APF’s insistent secrecy.

Shay said APF front man Michael Hilton plans to return to Hardin for a two-day job fair beginning Oct. 12.

Specifically, Shay mentioned Internet radio personality Alex Jones, of Austin, Texas. Jones, of infowars.com, was in Hardin on Thursday reporting on APF. Government and corporate takeovers of society are hot topics on Infowars. Jones indicated the Hardin situation was an example of the possibility of government or corporate takeover of a rural area.

Jones said Hardin’s story involved a convicted felon, Hilton, landing in the middle of nowhere and taking over a large jail capable of serving a city of several hundred thousand people. The facility, empty since it was constructed roughly two years ago, has room for more than 464 beds.

More from Billings

More Legal Issues for APF: Kulr8.com

Video from Billings Gazette

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If the Republicans ever manage to retake Congress, they will absolutely try to impeach President Obama. And it’ll be based upon a supremely ridiculous charge such as, say, the president refusing to nourish our crops with a sports drink instead of water.

Okay, so maybe the Idiocracy example is over-the-top, but if we follow the current trajectory of far-right attacks to their logical yet insane conclusion, it makes sense in a very eerie way. Have you seen the television commercials solemnly defending our right to poison our kids with “juice drinks and soda?” There you go.

I’ve been following the Republican descent into the realms of the bizarre for some time now, and it wasn’t until the “czars” thing broke that I became convinced that if they retook Congress the Republicans might try to impeach the president. The grounds for both the impeachment and the language used to sell it will likely be fabricated by either Glenn Beck or Rush Limbaugh.

I mean, 100 Republican members of Congress have signed onto Rep. Jack Kingston’s cartoonish czar bill. 100 House Republicans out of 177 have attached their names to a bill that was essentially invented as a television bit by Glenn Beck without any regard for the fact that “czar” is a nickname invented by the press, and that every president — all of them! — has employed policy and political advisers within their administrations. But it functions as an effective Beck attack because he knows his audience isn’t bright enough to distinguish “czars” from “communists.” By the way, not to be out-crazied by his House colleagues, Senator Ensign introduced an amendment to the Finance Committee health care reform bill called “Transparency in Czars.” This might as well be “Transparency in Hobbits” because it’s just that ludicrous.

Nevertheless, there’s a growing conventional wisdom in the press alleging that both sides of the political spectrum are equally guilty of wackaloon attacks and conspiracy theories.

(more…)

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Armed Revolt in the Obama Era? Right-Wing Gun Nuts Share Their Paranoid Worldview

By Max Blumenthal, The Daily Beast. Posted May 1, 2009.

Gun show enthusiasts make it abundantly clear why they’re stocking up on firepower.

On April 18 and 19, I attended gun shows in Antioch, Calif., and Reno, Nev., to probe the culture of gun enthusiasts at the onset of the Barack Obama era.

I came away from these events with a portrait of a heavily armed, tightly organized movement incited by right-wing radio to a fever-pitched resentment of Obama and his allies in Congress.

Even as the economy suffers, gun dealers and their Washington lobbyists are leveraging renewed anti-government sentiment into unprecedented sales figures and fattened membership rolls.

“We’ve been swamped today,” an NRA representative from Antioch boasted. “We’ve practically ran out of our materials that we give away at sign-up.”

Fueled by the screeds of radio hosts Michael Savage, Glenn Beck, and the lesser-known, but increasingly influential, online conspiracist Alex Jones, many gun-show attendees I spoke to were convinced Obama planned to usher in a Marxist dictatorship.

They warned that the president’s power grab would only begin with mass gun seizures. “If Obama takes away our guns,” a young, .45-caliber-pistol-toting man from Reno told me, “it’s just a step into trying to take away everything else.”

Indeed, in their minds, average Americans opposed to the Obama agenda would be herded into FEMA-run concentration camps by a volunteer army of glassy-eyed liberal college graduates.

“When they start imprisoning Americans, and people start seeing that we’re the enemy, then that’ll make it hot,” predicted one young man from Antioch sporting a button for former Republican presidential candidate Rep. Ron Paul of Texas. “People talk about a revolution,” the young man continued, “an armed revolution. I think police crackdowns on individuals will tip the scales.”

More than a few gun dealers and attendees echoed the young man’s seeming enthusiasm for armed revolt. One Contra Costa, Calif., gun dealer named Rich predicted, during an otherwise casual off-camera conversation, that “some nut” would assassinate Obama within one year of any Democratic attempt at gun-control legislation.

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The Rise of Glenn Beck’s Bizarre Media Militia

By Eric Boehlert, Media Matters for America. Posted April 8, 2009.

Fox News is playing an increasingly erratic and dangerous game by embracing paranoid insurrection rhetoric and conspiracy theorists.

After a night of drinking, followed by an early-morning argument with his mother, with whom he shared a Pittsburgh apartment, 22-year-old Richard Poplawski put on a bulletproof vest, grabbed his guns, including an AK-47 rifle, and waited for the police to respond to the domestic-disturbance call his mother had placed.

When two officers arrived at the front door, Poplawski shot them both in the head, and then killed another officer who tried to rescue his colleagues.

In the wake of the bloodbath, we learned that Poplawski was something of a conspiracy nut who embraced dark, radical rhetoric about America. He was convinced the government wanted to take away his guns, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.

Specifically, Poplawski, one friend described it, feared “the Obama gun ban that’s on the way” and “didn’t like our rights being infringed upon.” (FYI, there is no Obama gun ban in the works.) The same friend said the shooter feared America was “going to see the end of our times.”

We learned that Poplawski hosted his own (failed) Internet radio show and that he visited the Web site of 9/11 conspiracy backer Alex Jones, who has been hyping the threat of a totalitarian world government for years. More recently, Jones has been warning listeners like Poplawski about The Obama Deception (that’s the name of Jones’ new documentary DVD) and how President Barack Obama is bound to destroy America.

Who’s Alex Jones? Even according to some conservative bloggers, the anti-government, anti-Obama talker is a “freak” who’s popular with “the tin-foil-hat crowd.” Like Poplawski, apparently.

Jones might be a “freak,” but he has recently been embraced — and mainstreamed — by Fox News as part of the news channel’s unprecedented drive to push radical propaganda warning of America’s democratic demise under the new president.

During a March 18 Webcast of FoxNews.com‘s proudly paranoid “Freedom Watch,” Andrew Napolitano introduced a segment about “what the government has done to take your liberty and your property away.” And with that, he welcomed onto the show “the one, the only, the great Alex Jones,” who began ranting about “exposing” the New World Order and the threat posed by an emerging “global government.”

“I appreciate what you’re exposing,” Napolitano assured his guest.

Waving around a copy of his Obama Deception, Jones warned Fox News Webcast viewers about Obama’s “agenda” for gun confiscation and the new president’s plan to “bring in total police-state control” to America.

Jones also noted with excitement that Fox News’ Glenn Beck had recently begun warning about the looming New World Order on his show, just like Jones had for years. “It is great!” cheered the conspiracist. (Like Jones, Beck recently warned viewers that the Second Amendment is under fire.) Concluding the interview, Fox News’ Napolitano announced “it’s absolutely been a pleasure” listening to Jones’ insights.

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Did Paranoid Right-Wing Media Fuel the Pittsburgh Cop Killer’s Rage?

By Max Blumenthal, The Daily Beast. Posted April 8, 2009.

Richard Poplawski, the man who allegedly murdered three Pittsburgh cops, was clearly influenced by Fox News’s Glenn Beck and right-wing radio.

On April 6, two days after the 22-year-old Richard Poplawski allegedly murdered three police officers in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, a radio host named Alex Jones settled in before a microphone in his studio in Austin, Texas to do some damage control. “The mainstream media has certainly enjoyed tying me into this story,” Jones complained. “They’re attacking me and saying I’m delusional and there’s no New World Order The Second Amendment, what the country’s founded on–it’s all my fault!”

Poplawski was a neo-Nazi wannabe who railed against blacks, Jews, “Zionists,” and gun control. And like many members of the far-right fringe, he allegedly visited Jones’ Web sites and posted alarming reports by Jones’ writers on the white supremacist message board, Stormfront. (Poplawski’s posts are here, authored under the handle, “Braced For Fate.”) While Alex Jones generally avoids overt racism, he has found an eager audience on Stormfront by conjuring dark visions of an impending New World Order, claiming FEMA is secretly building a national concentration camp network, and announcing that President Barack Obama has planned mass gun seizures on his way to establishing a leftist dictatorship. “Remember, the first step in establishing a dictatorship is to disarm the citizens,” warned a March 13 commentary on Jones’ website, Prison Planet.

In the wake of Poplawski’s alleged murder spree, the killer’s friends and family members painted a portrait of a paranoid young man whose worldview was informed almost totally by the kind of conspiratorial themes entertained by Jones. Poplawski’s best friend, Edward Perkovic, who also spouted white supremacist rhetoric, told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that his friend “grew angry recently over fears Obama would outlaw guns.” Poplawski’s mother remarked to police investigators that her son targeted cops “because he believed that as a result of economic collapse, the police were no longer able to protect society.”

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