News/Politics 7-23-15

What’s interesting in the news today?

Open Thread

1. Anybody shocked? And notice how the White House, like the media, continues to push the lie about “heavily edited” videos. The full, unedited versions were released along with the shorter/edited version from the start. But hey, why let facts get in the way of protecting your blood money, right Barry?

From TheHill  “White House spokesman Josh Earnest on Wednesday dismissed claims that Planned Parenthood has illegally profited from harvesting fetal tissue, saying the organization holds itself to “the highest ethical standards.”

Earnest defended Planned Parenthood one day after it was targeted by a second secretly recorded video that appears to show an organization official haggling over prices of fetal organs with a medical research firm.

The footage was filmed by anti-abortion activists from the Center for Medical Progress, which has threatened to release more videos until the government cracks down on Planned Parenthood.

When asked in a news conference whether President Obama had concerns about the video, Earnest pointed concerns about the video’s accuracy.

Earnest pointed to media reports that raise “significant concerns about the way those videos were selectively edited to distort not just the words of the individual speaking, but also Planned Parenthood.”

“They subscribe [to] and implement the highest ethical standards in carrying out their operations,” he said of the nonprofit health group.”

Well, you know, the highest ethical standards that butchers of unborn children can have anyway, which is obviously very low standards. 

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2. Another perv/Obama bundler is in trouble. Just imagine the press coverage if he were a Republican. But he’s not, so silence once again….

From TheFreeBeacon  “A proposed civil settlement by gay activist and Obama bundler Terry Bean that would have cleared Bean of criminal charges for an alleged sexual encounter with a 15-year-old boy was rejected by a Eugene, Ore., judge, according to Oregon Live.

Bean, who raised over $1 million for President Barack Obama’s two presidential campaigns, was arrested last November and charged with two counts of third-degree sodomy and one count of third-degree sex abuse. The charges stemmed from allegations that the 66-year-old Bean and his 25-year-old boyfriend had sex with the teenage boy in a Eugene hotel when he was 15.

Last week, Bean’s lawyer cleared the court and attempted to sell a settlement agreement that had been reached with the teenage boy, but the deal was rejected by the judge who learned that Bean had avoided similar charges through a civil agreement.”

“His name appears on the White House Visitor Log more than 30 times. On one of those visits, Bean brought along his then-boyfriend Kiah Lawson, who was also arrested and charged with identical counts as Bean for the hotel encounter.

So this one isn’t his first victim. 

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3. The number of illegal aliens who crossed the border under Obama- 2.5 million. 

From TheWashingtonExaminer  “Some 2.5 million illegal immigrants have flowed into the United States under President Obama, with 790,000 rushing in since 2013, according to a new analysis.

Calculations from the Center for Migration Studies and the Pew Research Center indicate 1.5 to 1.7 million aliens joined the illegal population from 2009 to 2013 — either overstaying a temporary visa or sneaking into the country, according to a Center for Immigration Studiesreport out Monday morning.

The immigration watchdog’s analysis of Census Bureau data also showed that an additional 790,000 illegals entered from the middle of 2013 to May of 2015, for a total of 2.5 million new illegal immigrants since Obama took office in January of 2009. That is a rate of 300,000 to 400,000 a year.”

And he’s not done yet….

From TheFreeBeacon  “The Obama administration is moving forward with plans to expand a waiver program that will allow additional illegal aliens to remain in the country rather than apply for legal status from abroad.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a proposed rule on Tuesday that would make changes to a waiver program created by President Barack Obama’s executive action on immigration in 2013. The action created a waiver that primarily allowed illegal immigrants with a U.S. citizen spouse or parent to stay in the country instead of having to leave the United States and be barred from returning for three or 10 years, if they proved their absence would create an “extreme hardship” for their spouse.

The new rule expands eligibility to a host of other categories of illegal immigrants beyond those with citizen spouses and parents.

“DHS proposes to expand the class of aliens who may be eligible for a provisional waiver beyond immediate relatives of U.S. citizens to aliens in all statutorily eligible immigrant visa categories,” the proposed rule stated. “Such aliens include family-sponsored immigrants, employment-based immigrants, certain special immigrants, and Diversity Visa program selectees, together with their derivative spouses and children.”

The waivers allow illegal immigrants to stay in the country while they await visas, and avoid a penalty under U.S. law that bars persons who entered the country illegally from returning for at least three years.”

Diversity visas? I’m afraid to ask….. 🙄

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4. Don’t worry, I’ve found some good news for today too. 

Problem solved. But atheists will still be miserable, because it’s what they do. 

From StarsAndStripes  “The land beneath the cross on Mount Soledad in San Diego has been purchased by a private nonprofit group for $1.4 million, a key step toward possibly ending a more than two-decade legal controversy over having a cross on public property.

The Mount Soledad Memorial Association announced Monday that it had purchased the half-acre of property from the U.S. Department of Defense.

A provision in the defense authorization bill passed in December called for the federal government to sell the land beneath the cross to the memorial association, which has pledged to retain the cross as part of a war memorial.

The 43-foot cross was erected in 1954. More than 3,000 plaques honoring veterans are on walls surrounding the cross. The memorial association has long tended the cross and surrounding property, holding Memorial Day and Veterans Day events there.

Since the late 1980s, litigants, including the ACLU and Jewish War Veterans, have argued that the cross violates the constitutional separation of church and state. In 2006, the land was transferred from city ownership to the federal government.

The case is now with the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which in a previous ruling ordered the cross removed, although it remains unclear what effect the sale of the property by the Department of Defense will have. The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to hear the case.”

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5. Repaying a debt. 

From Breitbart  “In 1938, 19-year-old George Weidenfeld was given safe passage to the United Kingdom, thanks to the help of a Christian group called the Plymouth Brethren. Weidenfeld would later work at the BBC and go on to co-found the publishing firm Weidenfeld & Nicholson.

The publisher just recently financed the resettling of 42 Syrian Christian families into Warsaw, Poland, who all made it safely to Europe. The operation was carried out in total secrecy, as identifying the refugees’ names may threaten their family members remaining in Syria. Furthermore, 200 more Syrian Christian refugee families are expected to receive safe passage to Poland in the next few months, Weidenfeld said.

Weidenfeld, who feels he has a “debt to repay,” told The Times of Israel, “We have been deeply moved by the plight of Christians in conflict-torn Middle East countries, and we are supporting the transfer of Christian families to safe havens where they can lead normal lives.”

Additionally, the Jewish National Fund–a pro-Israel organization–has stepped in to help finance the Christian rescue operations, according to the report. Another charity, the Warsaw-based Esther Foundation, has provided temporary accommodations for the refugees.”

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News/Politics 7-20-15

What’s interesting in the news today?

Open Thread

1. “I’ve Read the Nuclear Deal, Mr. President, and It’s Awful”

From LegalInsurrection  “In his combative press conference last week to defend the P5+1 nuclear deal with Iran, President Barack Obama issued the following challenge:

So to go back to Congress, I challenge those who are objecting to this agreement, number one, to read the agreement before they comment on it; number two, to explain specifically where it is that they think this agreement does not prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, and why they’re right and people like Ernie Moniz, who is an MIT nuclear physicist and an expert in these issues, is wrong, why the rest of the world is wrong, and then present an alternative.

First off it’s worth noting that Energy Secretary and MIT nuclear physicist Ernest Moniz said back in April that to be effective the deal would have to include “anytime, anywhere,” inspections, so Obama’s explanation about why 24 days notice is now good enough fails to convince me.

I want Moniz to explain why he changed his position on this AND why 24 days is now acceptable. I would like Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes to explain why he walked back his comments on requiring “anytime, anywhere” inspections.

And I want a more convincing explanation than negotiator Wendy Sherman’s excuse that the term was just a “rhetorical flourish.” (If that was a rhetorical flourish, I’m curious how many other administration comments about the nuclear deal were rhetorical flourishes.)

But in that paragraph, Obama limits the grounds of questioning the deal to whether the language of the deal is insufficient to prevent Iran from achieving a nuclear breakout over the course of the deal.

Here’s where I have problem. Even if the agreement was airtight, and I doubt that it is, there’s a matter of the administration’s behavior during the Joint Plan of Action, which was agreed to in November 2013. The problem is that the Obama administration has acted as “Iran’s attorney” covering for Iran’s violations of the previous agreement.”

And it helps an Iranian General with American blood on his hands. 

From TheDailyBeast  “John Kerry denied it. So did Iran’s foreign minister. But the world’s most notorious spymaster stands to benefit—big time—from the accord with Tehran.

Among the big winners in the agreement to curtail Iran’s nuclear program, count a notorious and shadowy Iranian general who helped Shiite militias in Iraq kill American soldiers and who has come to the rescue of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad.

You’ll find his name, Qasem Soleimani, buried in an annex (PDF) of the unremittingly dense Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, along with some of his colleagues from the senior ranks of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, as well as its various divisions and corporate fronts. They’ll all be granted some sanctions relief as part of the U.S.-brokered deal to curtail Iran’s development of a nuclear weapon.

That Soleimani—who runs Iran’s elite paramilitary and covert operations group, the Quds Force—was even on the list appeared to catch some U.S. officials by surprise. A senior administration official briefing reporters on Tuesday morning didn’t have a ready response when asked when and why Soleimani was added. Secretary of State John Kerry reportedly denied that the 58-year-old general was on the list to be freed from the sanctions yoke. Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, agreed, saying Soleimani—whom the U.S. accused in 2011 of plotting to launch a terrorist attack in the United States—had been confused with someone else with a similar name.

They were all wrong—or maybe didn’t want to be right. Soleimani is, in fact, on the list, a Treasury Department official later confirmed to The Daily Beast. And his presence definitely surprised some powerful lawmakers, who are already sharpening their knives for a filleting of the Iran deal.”

““Soleimani is the guy that sent the copper-tipped IEDs into Iraq,” said Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain, referring to powerful improvised explosive devices, which Marine Corps Commandant General Joseph Dunford testified last week were responsible for the deaths of 500 soldiers and Marines. “That is really unbelievable,” McCain said when asked about Soleimani’s name showing up in the bowels of the Iran nuclear deal.”

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2. Unacceptable. 

From TheHill  “An internal Veterans Affairs Department report states that about one-third of the veterans waiting to receive medical care from the agency have already died.

A review of veteran death records provided to the Huffington Post found that, as of April, 847,822 veterans were awaiting healthcare and that of those, 238,647 were already deceased.

The report was handed over by Scott Davis, a program specialist at the VA’s Health Eligibility Center in Atlanta

He also sent copies to the House and Senate VA panels and to the White House.

A VA spokeswoman told Huffington Post that the department can’t subtract dead applicants from the list and that some may never have completed an application but remain on the back log.

Spokeswoman Walinda West also said that more than 80 percent veterans who come to the department “have either Medicare, Medicaid, Tricare or some other private insurance.”

“Consequently, some in pending status may have decided to use other options instead of completing their eligibility application.”

Davis dismissed that argument.

“VA wants you to believe, by virtue of people being able to get health care elsewhere, it’s not a big deal. But VA is turning away tens of thousands of veterans eligible for health care,” he said. “VA is making it cumbersome, and then saying, ‘See? They didn’t want it anyway.'”

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3. “Just your daily reminder that Medicaid is a ‘humanitarian catastrophe’”

From HotAir  “I’m sure most of you already know this, but Medicaid expansion–a critical component of Obamacare–is an abject disaster. In Virginia, almost a quarter of doctors aren’t accepting new Medicaid recipients–and those already enrolled into this government-run health care program experienced no improvement in care.

So, how is this a good blueprint for the rest of the country? Well, as you know, it isn’t–and the figures get worse regarding who is actually receiving care under this government program. As the Foundation for Government Accountability reiterated during their conference in June, there are still a lot of misconceptions about Medicaid expansion.”

“Unlike other forms of welfare, Medicaid has no work requirement, meaning states are being asked to expand eligibility for taxpayer- funded Medicaid to able-bodied, non-working adults. Research shows that expanding Medicaid to this new class of individuals discourages work, depresses earnings, reduces labor-force participation and hurts the economy.

Worse yet, the U.S. Department of Justice estimates that more than 35 percent of these potential new Medicaid enrollees have previous involvement in the criminal justice system, with many having been incarcerated.9 Put another way, ObamaCare’s Medicaid expansion does nothing to protect or support kids, seniors, individuals with disabilities on waiting lists or pregnant women. Instead, it gives taxpayer- funded Medicaid to able-bodied adults, largely without dependent children, largely unwilling to work, with many having a record of serving time in jail or prison.”

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4. Finally, a judge with some backbone. 

From TheWashingtonTimes  “Goosed into action by an angry federal judge, federal immigration authorities will go door-to-door demanding illegal immigrants return the three-year amnesty approvals the Obama administration issued to them in defiance of a court order.

Those who don’t return their three-year permits will have them terminated at the end of this month, the National Immigrant Justice Center, one of the advocacy groups briefed on authorities’ plan, said in a statement preparing immigrants for what could be a traumatic encounter.

The move comes as Homeland Security officials, fed up with slow-walking by illegal immigrants, are finally playing hardball after months of less forceful measures.

They’re scrambling to meet an end-of-month deadline set by Judge Andrew S. Hanen for recapturing thousands of three-year amnesties the department issued even after the court had entered an injunction halting the new amnesty program.

Unless all of the permits are recovered, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson could personally have to appear in court to explain the foul-up, Judge Hanen said in an order earlier this month.”

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5. A race database?

From TheNYPost  “A key part of President Obama’s legacy will be the fed’s unprecedented collection of sensitive data on Americans by race. The government is prying into our most personal information at the most local levels, all for the purpose of “racial and economic justice.”

Unbeknown to most Americans, Obama’s racial bean counters are furiously mining data on their health, home loans, credit cards, places of work, neighborhoods, even how their kids are disciplined in school — all to document “inequalities” between minorities and whites.

This Orwellian-style stockpile of statistics includes a vast and permanent network of discrimination databases, which Obama already is using to make “disparate impact” cases against: banks that don’t make enough prime loans to minorities; schools that suspend too many blacks; cities that don’t offer enough Section 8 and other low-income housing for minorities; and employers who turn down African-Americans for jobs due to criminal backgrounds.

Big Brother Barack wants the databases operational before he leaves office, and much of the data in them will be posted online.

So civil-rights attorneys and urban activist groups will be able to exploit them to show patterns of “racial disparities” and “segregation,” even if no other evidence of discrimination exists.”

That sounds like a “community organizer’s” dream come true.

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News/Politics 6-25-15

What’s interesting in the news today?

Open Thread

1. The number just keeps growing. Turns out their were actually 2 major breaches. It went from 4 million affected, to 18 million, and now we’re up to 32 million. 

From TheWashingtonTimes  “As many as 32 million Americans might have had their most sensitive data stolen in a breach of the federal government’s human resources agency computers, lawmakers speculated Wednesday as pressure grew on President Obama to oust the woman who heads the agency that botched its cybersecurity.

Katherine Archuleta, director of the Office of Personnel Management, fought for her job, telling the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee that she, herself, is likely a victim of the breach and takes it seriously.

But her uneven performance, which often included reading rote responses from prepared notes rather than answering direct questions, didn’t sit well with key lawmakers, who called for a housecleaning at the agency.”

“The OPM has acknowledged losing data in two breaches: One intrusion stole personal information of about 4.2 million current and former federal employees, and hackers in the second breach gained access to the background check system, with some of the most sensitive information on millions of Americans who have filled out the government’s background check packet.”

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2. It seems Obama’s BFF Valerie Jarrett isn’t just a Muslim Brotherhood supporter. She’s got some commies in her closet too. 

From JudicialWatch  “Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) files obtained by Judicial Watch reveal that the dad, maternal grandpa and father-in-law of President Obama’s trusted senior advisor, Valerie Jarrett, were hardcore Communists under investigation by the U.S. government.

Jarrett’s dad, pathologist and geneticist Dr. James Bowman, had extensive ties to Communist associations and individuals, his lengthy FBI file shows. In 1950 Bowman was in communication with a paid Soviet agent named Alfred Stern, who fled to Prague after getting charged with espionage. Bowman was also a member of a Communist-sympathizing group called the Association of Internes and Medical Students. After his discharge from the Army Medical Corps in 1955, Bowman moved to Iran to work, the FBI records show.

According to Bowman’s government file the Association of Internes and Medical Students is an organization that “has long been a faithful follower of the Communist Party line” and engages in un-American activities. Bowman was born in Washington D.C. and had deep ties to Chicago, where he often collaborated with fellow Communists. JW also obtained documents on Bowman from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) showing that the FBI was brought into investigate him for his membership in a group that “follows the communist party line.” The Jarrett family Communist ties also include a business partnership between Jarrett’s maternal grandpa, Robert Rochon Taylor, and Stern, the Soviet agent associated with her dad.

Jarrett’s father-in-law, Vernon Jarrett, was also another big-time Chicago Communist, according to separate FBI files obtained by JW as part of a probe into the Jarrett family’s Communist ties. For a period of time Vernon Jarrett appeared on the FBI’s Security Index and was considered a potential Communist saboteur who was to be arrested in the event of a conflict with the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). His FBI file reveals that he was assigned to write propaganda for a Communist Party front group in Chicago that would “disseminate the Communist Party line among…the middle class.”

It’s been well documented that Valerie Jarrett, a Chicago lawyer and longtime Obama confidant, is a liberal extremist who wields tremendous power in the White House. Faithful to her roots, she still has connections to many Communist and extremist groups, including the Muslim Brotherhood. Jarrett and her family also had strong ties to Frank Marshal Davis, a big Obama mentor and Communist Party member with an extensive FBI file.”

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3. Have we officially reached peak leftism?

From NationalReview  “If it seems to you that the Left has, collectively, lost its damned mind as the curtain rises on the last act of the Obama administration, you are not imagining things. Barack Obama has been extraordinarily successful in his desire to — what was that phrase? — fundamentally transform the country, but the metamorphosis is nonetheless a good deal less than his congregation wanted and expected. We may have gone from being up to our knees in welfare-statism to being up to our hips in it, and from having a bushel of banana-republic corruption and incompetence to having a bushel and a peck of it, but the United States of America remains, to the Left’s dismay, plainly recognizable as herself beneath the muck.

Ergo, madness and rage.

We have seen an extraordinary outburst of genuine extremism — and genuine authoritarianism — in the past several months, and it will no doubt grow more intense as we approach the constitutional dethroning of the mock messiah to whom our progressive friends literally sang hymns of praise and swore oaths of allegiance. (“I pledge to be a servant to our president” — recall all that sieg heil creepiness.) There is an unmistakable stink of desperation about this, as though the Left intuits what the Right dares not hope: that the coming few months may in fact see progressivism’s cultural high-water mark for this generation.

If there is desperation, it probably is because the Left is starting to suspect that the permanent Democratic majority it keeps promising itself may yet fail to materialize. The Democrats won two resounding White House victories but can hardly win a majority in a state legislature (seven out of ten today are Republican-controlled) or a governorship (the Democrats are down to 18) to save their lives, while Republicans are holding their strongest position in Congress since the days of Herbert Hoover. The Democrats have calculated that their best bet in 2016 is Hillary Rodham Clinton, that tragic bag of appetites who couldn’t close the deal in the primary last time around. “Vote for me, I’m a lady” isn’t what they thought it was: Wendy Davis, running for governor of Texas, made all the proper ceremonial incantations and appeared in heroic postures on all the right magazine covers, but finished in the 30s on Election Day. With young people trending pro-life, that old black magic ain’t what it used to be.”

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4. You knew this was coming. The fact that they trying to defend them means someone already wants them changed. 

From StarsAndStripes  “The U.S. Army on Wednesday defended its past practice of naming forts and posts after Confederate Army generals, saying they memorialize historic figures, “not causes or ideologies.”

The issue arose following the deadly shooting at a historic black church in Charleston, S.C., and amid debate over Confederate flags and other Civil War-era symbols of the pro-slavery secessionist Confederacy. The white shooting suspect has been shown holding Confederate flags in widely-seen photos.

Numerous U.S. Army posts in the South are named for Confederate soldiers.

The Army’s top spokesman, Brig. Gen. Malcolm B. Frost, issued a brief statement in the aftermath of questions about whether the military ought to consider changing the name of bases such as Fort Bragg, N.C., which is named after the man who led the Confederate Army of Tennessee, Gen. Braxton Bragg.

“Every Army installation is named for a soldier who holds a place in our military history,” Frost said. “Accordingly, these historic names represent individuals, not causes or ideologies. It should be noted that the naming occurred in the spirit of reconciliation, not division.””

History means nothing to them. 

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News/Politics 6-24-15

What’s interesting in the news today?

Open Thread

1. That didn’t take long……

From TheWashingtonPost  “In the wake of the Charleston shooting, Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) are considering ways to renew their failed push to pass meaningful gun-control legislation.

In separate interviews Tuesday night, at a reception before a ceremony hosted by Sandy Hook families where Toomey was honored, the senators discussed their desire to find a new way forward.”

Yeah, because criminals intent on killing always follow gun laws…. 🙄

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2. Good, now throw the book at ’em. 

From Reuters/MSN  “The United States has arrested 1,140 people on charges of sexually preying on children as part of a nationwide sweep to protect children, the U.S. Justice Department said on Monday.

The arrests stemmed from a two-month operation in April and May tracking alleged offenders who use the Internet to lure youths and traffic them into commercial sexual exploitation, child pornography and traveling abroad to engage in child sex tourism, it said in a news release.

The arrests were part of Operation Broken Heart, which last year netted 275 arrests for child sexual predation.”

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3. What’s wrong with this picture?

From BloombergView  “The U.S. military and Iranian-backed Shiite militias are getting closer and closer in Iraq, even sharing a base, while Iran uses those militias to expand its influence in Iraq and fight alongside the Bashar al-Assad regime in neighboring Syria.

Two senior administration officials confirmed to us that U.S. soldiers and Shiite militia groups are both using the Taqqadum military base in Anbar, the same Iraqi base where President Obama is sending an additional 450 U.S. military personnel to help train the local forces fighting against the Islamic State. Some of the Iran-backed Shiite militias at the base have killed American soldiers in the past.

Some inside the Obama administration fear that sharing the base puts U.S. soldiers at risk. The U.S. intelligence community has reported back to Washington that representatives of some of the more extreme militias have been spying on U.S. operations at Taqqadum, one senior administration official told us. That could be calamitous if the fragile relationship between the U.S. military and the Shiite militias comes apart and Iran-backed forces decide to again target U.S. troops.

American critics of this growing cooperation between the U.S. military and the Iranian-backed militias call it a betrayal of the U.S. personnel who fought against the militias during the 10-year U.S. occupation of Iraq.

“It’s an insult to the families of the American soldiers that were wounded and killed in battles in which the Shia militias were the enemy,” Senate Armed Services Chairman John McCain told us. “Now, providing arms to them and supporting them, it’s very hard for those families to understand.””

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4. I guess if we’re going to fight alongside terrorists, we might as well negotiate with them too. 

From CNN  “The White House will release on Wednesday a presidential directive and an executive order that will allow the government to communicate and negotiate with terrorist groups holding Americans hostage, a source briefed on the matter told CNN.

While the government will maintain its policy of not making “substantive concessions” to captors or paying ransoms, the White House will announce that officials will no longer threaten with criminal prosecution the families of American hostages who do pay ransoms to their relatives’ captors, according to a senior administration official.

Family members of former hostages were meeting at the National Counterterrorism Center on Tuesday to learn of the administration’s decisions after a months-long review of U.S. policies in dealing with American citizens held captive. The families were set to meet with President Barack Obama on Wednesday.

The payment of ransoms to terror groups has long been tolerated in many instances, though it is technically illegal. The administration has looked the other way when families of Americans held overseas have paid ransoms.

But several families — including the family of James Foley — have said they were threatened with prosecution as they considered making ransom payments. A member of the National Security Council staff had threatened Foley’s family with prosecution during their ordeal.”

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5. Time to find a new browser. 

From TheGuardian  “Privacy campaigners and open source developers are up in arms over the secret installing of Google software which is capable of listening in on conversations held in front of a computer.

First spotted by open source developers, the Chromium browser – the open source basis for Google’s Chrome – began remotely installing audio-snooping code that was capable of listening to users.

It was designed to support Chrome’s new “OK, Google” hotword detection – which makes the computer respond when you talk to it – but was installed, and, some users have claimed, it is activated on computers without their permission.

“Without consent, Google’s code had downloaded a black box of code that – according to itself – had turned on the microphone and was actively listening to your room,” said Rick Falkvinge, the Pirate party founder, in a blog post. “Which means that your computer had been stealth configured to send what was being said in your room to somebody else, to a private company in another country, without your consent or knowledge, an audio transmission triggered by … an unknown and unverifiable set of conditions.”

The feature is installed by default as part of Google’s Chrome browser. But open source advocates are up in arms about it also being installed with the open source variant Chromium, because the listening code is considered to be “black box”, not part of the open source audit process.

“We don’t know and can’t know what this black box does,” said Falkvinge.”

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News/Politics 6-22-15

What’s interesting in the news today?

Open Thread

1. How the media spun the horrific murders in S.C. into a fight over a flag. 

From TheWashingtonExaminer  “It took less than two days for the press to take a story about a white South Carolina man who shot and killed nine black churchgoers, and turn it into a story about the Confederate battle flag flying outside South Carolina’s state house.

For media, the flag as a supposedly influential symbol of racial oppression and hate represented an issue that required immediate attention and hours of coverage. By Friday, the press’ focus on the flag was intense.

“S.C. Confederate flag back in the spotlight after massacre,” CNN noted, tracking the public furor over the state’s choice to display the Civil War leftover.

The Huffington Post featured an op-ed titled simple “Take It Down.”

The Atlantic’s Ta-Nehisi Coates echoed these sentiments in a separate article titled “Take Down the Confederate Flag—Now.”

“The flag that Dylann Roof embraced, which many South Carolinians embrace, endorses the violence he committed,” the article declared.

The alleged terrorist, Dylann Storm Roof, 21, claims he targeted nine parishioners who had gathered for a prayer meeting Wednesday evening at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church because they were black. Pictures of Roof quickly circulated that showed him standing next to a car with a Confederate flag plate. The image stuck, and controversy over the flag found its footing.”

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2. While the media is busy with their agenda, a much bigger angle to the story goes mostly unreported. 

From WND  “As WND has reported, Charleston church shooter Dylann Roof was a known drug user who was caught with the powerful mind-altering narcotic Suboxone when apprehended by police during an incident on Feb. 28.

Suboxone is used to treat addiction to opioid drugs such as heroin. It’s adverse effects include anxiety, irritability, depersonalization, confusion, suicidal thoughts and irrational, sometimes violent behavior.

Other drugs linked to mass killers have more often been geared toward treating mental illness. According to a data set of U.S. mass shootings from 1982-2012 prepared by Mother Jones magazine, of 62 mass shootings carried out by 64 shooters, the majority of the shooters (41) were noted to have signs of possible mental illness — the precise kinds of mental illnesses that psychotropic medications are prescribed for.

It is a well-documented fact that in the 1980s, a shift occurred in the direction of treating the mentally ill. Rather than institutionalize them, the preferred method was to “mainstream” them, encouraging them to function in society while being treated with a mind-numbing array of new anti-depressants being developed by the pharmaceutical industry.

WND has compiled a list of killings committed by persons who had used mind-altering drugs or recently come off of them at the time of their crimes:”

The list is long, and it just keeps growing. 

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3. The Obama admin and the VA continue to fail our soldiers. 

From TheNYTimes  “One year after outrage about long waiting lists for health care shook theDepartment of Veterans Affairs, the agency is facing a new crisis: The number of veterans on waiting lists of one month or more is now 50 percent higher than it was during the height of last year’s problems, department officials say. The department is also facing a nearly $3 billion budget shortfall, which could affect care for many veterans.

The agency is considering furloughs, hiring freezes and other significant moves to reduce the gap. A proposal to address a shortage of funds for one drug — a new, more effective but more costly hepatitis C treatment — by possibly rationing new treatments among veterans and excluding certain patients who have advanced terminal diseases or suffer from a “persistent vegetative state or advanced dementia” is stirring bitter debate inside the department.

Agency officials expect to petition Congress this week to allow them to shift money into programs running short of cash. But that may place them at odds with Republican lawmakers who object to removing funds from a new program intended to allow certain veterans on waiting lists and in rural areas to choose taxpayer-paid care from private doctors outside the department’s health system.

“Something has to give,” the department’s deputy secretary, Sloan D. Gibson, said in an interview. “We can’t leave this as the status quo. We are not meeting the needs of veterans, and veterans are signaling that to us by coming in for additional care, and we can’t deliver it as timely as we want to.”

Since the waiting-list scandal broke last year, the department has broadly expanded access to care. Its doctors and nurses have handled 2.7 million more appointments than in any previous year, while authorizing 900,000 additional patients to see outside physicians. In all, agency officials say, they have increased capacity by more than seven million patient visits per year — double what they originally thought they needed to fix shortcomings.

But what was not foreseen, department leaders say, was just how much physician workloads and demand from veterans would continue to soar — by one-fifth, in fact, at some major veterans hospitals over just the past year.”

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News/Politics 6-18-15

What’s interesting in the news today?

Open Thread

1. First here’s the official story from the Obama White House where Obama takes credit for the success of other groups……

From TheWashingtonTimes  “The White House claimed credit Tuesday for a victory by Kurdish fighters over the Islamic State in northern Syria, saying the battlefield success is a direct result of military decisions by President Obama late last year.

White House press secretary Josh Earnest said the triumph by Syrian Kurds in the town of Tal Abyad “is actually a direct consequence of an earlier military operation that President Obama ordered” to break the siege of the Syrian city of Kobani last fall.

“Because of the president’s decision to order the air drop of significant resources and equipments and reinforcements, and because we were able to work with Turkey to allow for additional forces to enter that city, we saw that coalition … backed by coalition airstrikes, of course … drive [the Islamic State] out of Khobani,” he said. “And over the last several months, those forces have steadily driven east across northern Syria.””

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2. And then there’s the real story, which is success in spite of Obama……

From FoxNews  “The Kurds are enjoying increasing success against ISIS, and not only are they doing it without the U.S. weapons they seek, they often find themselves going up against American-made equipment.

In Syria, Kurdish Peshmerga forces captured the key city of Tal Abyad from ISIS on Monday, the latest in a string of Kurdish victories over the black-clad jihadist army in Iraq and Syria. Leaders of the ethnic army told FoxNews.com recently that they could be even more effective if U.S. weapons went to them instead of the enemy, which has seized massive amounts of American weaponry from the Iraqi forces it has defeated in battle.

 “What America has given to Iraq in the past, what Iraq borrowed from Russia and U.S., ISIS has,” said Peshmerga commander Kemal Kerkuki. “They are using many, many, mines, C4, TNT, snipers, mortars; they have Humvees, they have tanks, they have different kinds of weapons.”

U.S. military aid is distributed through Baghdad, which has an arm’s length relationship with the semi-autonomous Kurds in the north. Without direct aid, the Kurds have largely made do with aging equipment and weapons they seize from ISIS.”

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3. Meanwhile in the US, right-wing extremism and violence is rampant, at least according to the left and the NY Times. 🙄

From JammieWearingFools  “Let’s just completely ignore the constant threat of Islamist terror and the leftwing street marauders rioting around the country. We’ve got the New York Times helpfully cherry-picking and twisting some statistics to help pretend there’s some right-wing plot to undermine America. Yes, nearly 14 years after 9/11, the “right” are still the greatest threat facing America.

The stupid, it hurts.

THIS month, the headlines were about a Muslim man in Boston who was accused of threatening police officers with a knife. Last month, two Muslims attacked an anti-Islamic conference in Garland, Tex. The month before, a Muslim man was charged with plotting to drive a truck bomb onto a military installation in Kansas. If you keep up with the news, you know that a small but steady stream of American Muslims, radicalized by overseas extremists, are engaging in violence here in the United States.

But headlines can mislead. The main terrorist threat in the United States is not from violent Muslim extremists, but from right-wing extremists. Just ask the police.

In a survey we conducted with the Police Executive Research Forum last year of 382 law enforcement agencies, 74 percent reported anti-government extremism as one of the top three terrorist threats in their jurisdiction; 39 percent listed extremism connected with Al Qaeda or like-minded terrorist organizations. And only 3 percent identified the threat from Muslim extremists as severe, compared with 7 percent for anti-government and other forms of extremism.”

Was it right-wingers burning Baltimore and Ferguson, trying to blow up a bridge in Cleveland, shooting up a draw the prophet gathering, bombing Boston, attacking Boston police with a knife, shooting 2 cops in NY, attacking an FBI agent yesterday, or any other episodes in recent memory? No, it wasn’t, those have all been left-wing agitators and muslims. 

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4. From bad to worse.

From KHQ.com  “The City of Spokane says an independent investigation into a whistleblower complaint filed against three members of the volunteer citizen Police Ombudsman Commission has found “behavioral misconduct during interactions with City employees.” City of Spokane Communications Director Brian Coddington said eight findings of misconduct in the report include chair Rachel Dolezal and commissioners Kevin Berkompas and Adrian Dominguez. The report has been forwarded to the City Council for review. 

Dolezal recently resigned as President of the Spokane NAACP amid allegations from her parents that she is in fact white, and not black as she has been portraying for years. 

“We are deeply disturbed by the facts contained in the report of findings from the independent investigator,” Spokane Mayor David Condon and Council President Ben Stuckart said in a joint statement. “The conduct is unacceptable and falls far short of the community’s expectations of volunteers who sit on City boards and commissions.”

The evidence and interviews conducted by the law firm Winston & Cashatt confirmed workplace harassment allegations, revealing a pattern of misconduct as well as specific incidents of harassment that might be viewed only as rude or unprofessional were it not for the ongoing pattern of harassment.

The report also states investigators uncovered additional abuses of authority, as well as violations of the Code of Ethics. The report states one or more of the Named Commissioners attempted to directly supervise the operation of the OPO, lied to investigators, failed to set aside biases toward police, engaged in unprofessional disrespectful conduct in public settings, and engaged in conduct that created a conflict of interest.At a press conference on Wednesday, Council President Ben Stuckart said after reading the findings in the report, the creation of a hostile work environment was “pretty horrific.””

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5. Hillary’s lies continue to be exposed. 

From FoxNews  “Secretary of State Hillary Clinton used her personal email account to handle high level negotiations in 2011 for a no-fly zone to help topple Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi, according to a series of emails obtained by Fox News, challenging her claim the private server did not hold classified information.

The emails, linked here, conflict with Clinton’s statement that she did not put national security at risk by using a personal account.

“I did not email any classified material to anyone on my email. There is no classified material,”  Clinton, now a candidate for president, told reporters in March. “I’m certainly well-aware of the classification requirements and did not send classified material.”

That claim was hard to test because emails released by the State Department are heavily blacked out. But an email chain from March 23, 2011 — with virtually no redactions — shows a message for senior administration staff including then Deputy National Security Adviser Denis McDonough, then-Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs William Burns, Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, Michele Flournoy among others.  It goes point by point, explaining what Turkey, France and Britain will likely accept in the deal.

“I think the information in the email is clearly classified. If I were engaged in the negotiation on that subject reporting back to Washington, my reporting cable would be classified,”  former UN Ambassador and Fox News contributor John Bolton said after reading the un-redacted emails.”

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News/Politics 6-11-15

What’s interesting in the news today?

Open Thread

1. This is the problem with these secretive deals, which most haven’t read (again). It’s the unknown details which come back to haunt you. Establishment Republicans probably like it because it provides them cover to do what they want to do anyway, which is to expand immigration. 

From Breitbart  “Discovered inside the huge tranche of secretive Obamatrade documents released by Wikileaks are key details on how technically any Republican voting for Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) that would fast-track trade deals like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal would technically also be voting to massively expand President Obama’s executive authority when it comes to immigration matters.

The mainstream media covered the Wikileaks document dump extensively, but did not mention the immigration chapter contained within it, so Breitbart News took the documents to immigration experts to get their take on it. Nobody has figured how big a deal the documents uncovered by Wikileaks are until now. (See below)

The president’s Trade in Services Act (TiSA) documents, which is one of the three different close-to-completely-negotiated deals that would be fast-tracked making up the president’s trade agreement, show Obamatrade in fact unilaterally alters current U.S. immigration law. TiSA, like TPP or the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP) deals, are international trade agreements that President Obama is trying to force through to final approval. The way he can do so is by getting Congress to give him fast-track authority through TPA.

TiSA is even more secretive than TPP. Lawmakers on Capitol Hill can review the text of TPP in a secret, secured room inside the Capitol—and in some cases can bring staffers who have high enough security clearances—but with TiSA, no such draft text is available.

Voting for TPA, of course, would essentially ensure the final passage of each TPP, T-TIP, and TiSA by Congress, since in the history of fast-track any deal that’s ever started on fast-track has been approved. Roughly 10 pages of this TiSA agreement document leak are specifically about immigration.

“The existence of these ten pages on immigration in the Trade and Services Agreement make it absolutely clear in my mind that the administration is negotiating immigration – and for them to say they are not – they have a lot of explaining to do based on the actual text in this agreement,” Rosemary Jenks, the Director of Government Relations at Numbers USA, told Breitbart News following her review of these documents.”

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2. Anybody shocked?

From TheWallStJournal  “Last September the Obama administration produced an FBI report that said mass shooting attacks and deaths were up sharply — by an average annual rate of about 16% between 2000 and 2013. Moreover, the problem was worsening. “The findings establish an increasing frequency of incidents,” said the authors. “During the first 7 years included in the study, an average of 6.4 incidents occurred annually. In the last 7 years of the study, that average increased to 16.4 incidents annually.”

The White House could not possibly have been more pleased with the media reaction to these findings, which were prominently featured by the New York Times, USA Today, CNN, the Washington Post and other major outlets. The FBI report landed six weeks before the midterm elections, and the administration was hoping that the gun-control issue would help drive Democratic turnout.

But late last week, J. Pete Blair and M. Hunter Martaindale, two academics at Texas State University who co-authored the FBI report, acknowledged that “our data is imperfect.” They said that the news media “got it wrong” last year when they “mistakenly reported mass shootings were on the rise.”

Mind you, the authors did not issue this mea culpa in the major news outlets that supposedly misreported the original findings. Instead, the authors published it in ACJS Today, an academic journal published by the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences. “Because official data did not contain the information we needed, we had to develop our own,” wrote Messrs. Blair and Martaindale. “This required choices between various options with various strengths and weaknesses.” You don’t say.

John Lott of the Crime Prevention Research Center—who has studied FBI crime data for three decades—told me in an interview that the FBI report is better understood as a political document than as a work of serious social science. For example, the authors chose the year 2000 as their starting point “even though anyone who has studied these trends knows that 2000 and 2001 were unusually quiet and had few mass shootings.” Data going back to the mid-1970s is readily available but was ignored. How come? Over the past 40 years, there has been no statistically significant increase in mass shootings in the U.S.”

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3. Again, is anyone shocked? Nope.

From TheWashingtonExaminer  “State Department Inspector General officials edited out passages of a high-profile report in 2013 that could have embarrassed Hillary Clinton just days before she quit President Obama’s Cabinet.

The officials excised details of a cover up of misconduct by Clinton’s security team.

The edits raise concerns that investigators were subjected to “undue influence” from agency officials.

The Washington Examiner obtained earlier drafts of the report which differ markedly from the final version. References to specific cases in which high-level State officials intervened and descriptions of the extent and frequency of those interventions appear in several early drafts but were later eliminated.

The unexplained gaps in the final version, and the removal of passages that would have damaged the State Department, call into question the independence of Harold Geisel, who was State’s temporary inspector general throughout Clinton’s four years at the head of the department.

The drafts were provided to the Examiner by Richard Higbie, a senior criminal investigator at the Bureau of Diplomatic Security, after he said he disclosed the documents to several members of Congress and multiple congressional committees under federal whistleblower protections.

Higbie is presently suing the State Department for retaliation.”

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4. Hillary appears to have been providing favors for Clinton Foundation donors even back when she was a Senator.

From TheWashingtonTimes  “Hillary Rodham Clinton’s efforts to provide favors to major donors to her husband’s global charity or her own political career stretch back far earlier than her tenure as America’s top diplomat, dating to the time she served as a U.S. senator and had the power to earmark federal funds and influence legislation, records show.

For instance, Mrs. Clinton introduced a bill when she was New York’s junior senator that allowed a donor to the Clinton Foundation to use tax-exempt bonds to build a shopping center in Syracuse, New York, public records show.

She also went to bat for Freddie Mac, working to defeat legislation that would have subjected the mortgage giant to tougher regulations before the housing bubble burst and led to a major recession. That same year, Freddie Mac donated $50,000 to $100,000 to her husband’s charity, originally called the William J. Clinton Foundation records show.”

“Mrs. Clinton also used her leverage as a senator to help persuade the Chinese government to reduce tariffs on Corning Inc.’s fiber optic products. The central New York company’s employees and executives contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to her campaigns and political action committee.

Analysts on political money have said the pattern of Mrs. Clinton’s intervention on behalf of donors to her husband’s charity raise troubling ethical questions.”

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5. Apparently his hometown of Chicago is where Obama learned to use fuzzy math. It’s one of the few courses required. 🙄

From HotAir  “Have you heard the good news? (No.. not that Good News.) The high school graduation rate in Chicago has finally started going back up as of the last full year of available records. (2012-2013) It jumped up from 61% to 63%, which still isn’t really close to the national rate of 81%, but hey… at least it’s improving, right?

According to an investigation done by NPR (of all places) the news might not be quite as sunny and cheerful as the headlines would indicate. Graduating more students isn’t really a positive accomplishment if the graduates in question are making it out the door on a technicality and are not prepared for either college or a job. And in Chicago, that seems to be the case far too often.

First of all, the “percentage who graduate” isn’t accurate if you mislabel a lot of the dropouts.

Basically, we found that many high schools in the city were mislabeling students when they left. They were saying they were moving out of town or going to private schools when, in reality, they were enrolling at the district’s alternative schools or, in some cases, GED programs…

Well, it’s making it look better than it really is because mislabeling those students makes them disappear from the denominator.

But even the ones who stick around and graduate were frequently getting credit for work which was dubious to say the least. Many students achieved the required minimums through “credit recovery.” This process allowed students who failed required courses to “retake” the class at home and/or online with limited teacher supervision and far fewer questions to answer.

Plenty of cities are apparently using similar tactics to Chicago. Camden, New Jersey has an interesting optional program for kids who fail their finals. They get to try again with a substantially easier course.”

“In New Jersey, if you fail the first-round high school exit exam, there’s a second exam you can take — an easier one. It’s untimed, and it consists of just one single question per subject. In Camden, half the senior class failed not just the first test but the second one too…”

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