The 400,000 residents of Wood and Lucas County, Ohio — including the state’s 4th largest city Toledo — are without drinking water with no guess as to when it will be safe to drink.
Algae blooms in Lake Erie that produce toxic bacteria are responsible for the crisis. Governor Kasich has declared a state of emergency and water supplies are pouring in from all over the state.
The blooms have become an annual event along Lake Erie’s shores as runoff from agricultural and industrial sources cause the algae to experience runaway growth. The algae releases toxins that, if sucked into water treatment plants, make the water undrinkable.
News of the contaminated water touched off a shopping frenzy at area stores for bottled water and bags of ice. Shelves were emptied of bottles and other water supplies, as residents prepared for the worst.
“First and foremost, residents must remain calm,” Toledo Mayor Michael Collins said at a morning press conference.
Toledo officials issued the warning early Saturday after tests at the city’s Collins Park Water Treatment Plant showed two sample readings for microcystin above the standard for consumption. The plant provides treatment services to an area of approximately 400,000 people across 100 square miles, according to The Toledo Blade.
Officials said the water is not for drinking or cooking but healthy adults could still use the water for bathing. They warned children not to bathe or swim in it, as they might drink the water accidentally. Residents were warned not to boil the water because it will only increase the toxin’s concentration. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and upset stomach.
In a press release, the city of Toledo said the toxins likely came from harmful algal blooms in nearby Lake Erie.
“These organisms are capable of producing a number of toxins that may pose a risk to human and animal health,” the release said.
Area zoos and restaurants closed, and the University of Toledo announced it will be closed Saturday and all non-health-care functions canceled. Toledo Lucas-County Public Libraries also announced closings.
“We’re testing the water. We’ll have updated test results later this afternoon,” Lisa Ward, Collin’s spokesperson, told the Toledo Free Press. “We are currently working to restore water supplies and working on a different water distribution.”
Meanwhile, other municipalities were making their own arrangements. Luna Pier, Mich., officials were making plans to funnel water from Monroe Township, according to the Free Press. Fire trucks will pick up the water and residents will be able to fill water bottles after noon Saturday.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicted something like this would happen weeks ago:
The reemergence of harmful algal blooms in Lake Erie is an ecological and economic setback for communities along the coast,” said U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur, from Ohio’s 9th congressional district. Kaptur said NOAA’s forecast model is one of several emerging tools aimed at trying to “restore balance to Lake Erie’s ecosystem.”
The blooms form during the late summer and early fall, and were particularly aggressive from the 1960s to the 1980s, according to NOAA. As the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports banning phosphorus in laundry soap in 1988 helped put the brakes on the toxins — for a few years.
But phosphorus from farm fertilizer runoff and sewage treatment plants continues to accumulate along Ohio’s shores, and the blooms have become more frequent and troublesome in the shallow Lake Erie in the past decade. The blooms have been blamed for contributing to oxygen-depleted dead zones in the lake where fish can’t survive and forcing cities to spend more money to treat drinking water.
Rick Stumpf, a researcher with NOAA, said the algae bloom in 2013 was worse than expected because of heavy July rain.
“If we have an exceptionally wet July, we may revise the forecast,” Stumpf told The Blade. “But it won’t be lower than it is now.”
The lake was also warm by June 2013, contributing to the outbreak, the researcher said. The lake is believed to be about as warm as it was last summer, said Tom Bridgeman, an algae researcher at the University of Toledo’s Lake Erie Center.
Lake Erie is a lot cleaner than it used it be — one of the true success stories brought to us by the Clean Water Act. But contaminated runoff close to the shores of all the Great Lakes threatens not only the water supplies of communities, but the economies of the small towns and hamlets that depend heavily on tourism and sport fishing.
In the last decade or so, the government has been working with farmers and industry to reduce runoff into streams and rivers that flow into the Great Lakes while also trying to reduce pesticide and fertilizer contamination. It will take years for these policies to bear fruit, which means there will probably be more nightmares like the one in Ohio in the future.
Some very ominous signs are being reported by The Daily Beast’s James Miller of Russian military moves on the border with Ukraine. Where Vladimir Putin had actually pulled back at least some of his forces from the border last month, Miller reports that Russian armor has been geolocated within 2,000 meters of the border, with “columns of tanks” moving toward a key border crossing.
Helicopters holding ground fire exercises, BUK anti-aircraft systems moving toward the border — all these signs point to…what?
Miller is managing editor of The Interpreter, a site that translates Russian news and blogs, so I don’t know his qualifications to comment on a military buildup like this. But you didn’t have to attend the Army War College to put two and two together and realize that the Russian military certainly has all it needs positioned very close to the border to carry out an invasion of Ukraine.
Right now Russia is moving troops, armor, and advanced antiaircraft missiles toward the border with Ukraine. In the last 48 hours, dozens of videos have been uploaded to social-media sites that show Russian armor very close to the border, many of them confirmed to be within mere kilometers of Ukraine.
On Thursday, my team at The Interpreterdefinitively geolocated Russian armor only 2,000 meters (and closing) from the border and a Buk, the same type of missile that likely took down Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, only a few hours from being within range of Ukraine’s air force. Columns of tanks, marked with the same painted numbers and flat, pale-green paint we’ve seen in Ukraine since (at least) June 20th, were spotted moving en masse toward a key border crossing. Some Ukrainian journalists are reporting that at least some of this armor has already crossed the border.
Russia’s helicopters held ground-fire exercises Friday on the border between Russia’s Rostov region and Ukraine’s Donetsk region. The head of Russia’s airborne units, which played a critical role in the conquering of Crimea, has pledged to expand operations beyond the boundaries of Russia (tanks marked with the insignia of Russian Airborne forces were captured by Ukrainian troops just yesterday). The Ukrainian government now says that its military has detected even more advanced antiaircraft batteries lined up on its border.
There is now significant evidence that Russia is openly supporting the separatists militarily and many experts now believe that Russia could invade and beat back the Ukrainian anti-terror operation.
An open war between Ukraine and Russia may have already begun. In the last 24 hours, there are reports of cross-border shelling in new locations and 17 new Grad rocket batteries digging in on the Russian side of the border, but within range of the Ukrainian military’s front lines. This is even more concerning when it is put into context. In the last two days, two different Ukrainian military convoys have been destroyed by Grad rockets south of the MH17 crash site, in Shakhtyorsk and near Torez. Russian paratroopers have even taken pictures with the bodies of the Ukrainian soldiers and have posted them to social networks (this isn’t the only time Russian soldiers have posted pictures from inside Ukraine, which has caused the Russian government to discuss banning their soldiers from posting to social media).
More saber rattling from Putin? The Russian president should realize by now that the most recent bout of sanctions against Moscow is probably the worst that western Europe can impose without damaging their own economies. An invasion would bring other costs, but how much worse can it get for Russia? No one is going to war to save the Kiev government, the US is a non-factor, and is it really a deterrent to war that FIFA would pull the 2018 World Cup soccer tournament from Russia?
Miller does not make the most convincing argument that war is imminent. Indeed, the article may be little more than anti-Russian propaganda. Still, other news outlets have reported on Russian troop movements and the Pentagon is worried about the shelling from Russia into the Ukraine. The social media videos and photos are real enough. The bottom line: Speculation about a Russian invasion is justified and more than propaganda.
But if this is just one more gambit in a long line of psychological ploys by Putin to rattle Kiev — and Washington — he’s making a damn fine show of it.
Apparently, some of the most prolific porn viewers at work are federal employees. And the reason won’t surprise you. Washington Times:
For one Federal Communications Commission worker, his porn habit at work was easy to explain: Things were slow, he told investigators, so he perused it “out of boredom” — for up to eight hours each week.
Lack of work has emerged time and again in federal investigations, and it’s not just porn, nor is it confined to the FCC. Across government, employees caught wasting time at work say they simply didn’t have enough work to do, according to investigation records obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.
“He stated he is aware it is against government rules and regulations, but he often does not have enough work to do and has free time,” investigators wrote of another federal employee, this one at the Treasury Department, who viewed more than 13,000 pornographic images in a six-week span.
Investigations at the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Commerce Department and the General Services Administration have turned up similar cases, though memos show the employees rarely face criminal prosecution for time and attendance fraud.
A spokesman for the FCC declined to comment on what, if any, action the agency took after the FCC’s inspector general singled out the eight-hour-a-week porn peeper. FCC spokesman Mark Wigfield said only that the agency follows Office of Personnel Management guidelines on disciplinary matters and officials could not comment on specific cases.
In another recent case, a GSA employee who spent about two hours a day on a computer looking at pornography and dating sites “sometimes became bored during these long hours at the computer and would often use the computer for personal use to pass the time,” according to a case report by the GSA inspector general last year.
In a more recent and far more costly example, U.S. Patent Trial and Appeal Board paralegals received salaries and bonuses for years even though they spent much of their time watching television, shopping online, exercising and wasting time on their tablet computers, according to an investigation released this week by the Commerce Department’s inspector general.
Investigators estimate that more than $4 million was spent paying employees for time they weren’t working.
These bureaucrats obviously don’t know the first thing about office etiquette. If you’ve worked in an office for any length of time, you learn all the tricks about how to look busy while doing nothing. Paper shuffling is always an option, as is filing and refiling, pretending to read voluminous reports, and classic time wasting strategies such as meeting with co-workers, and appearing to read trade publications while actually perusing the latest spy thriller.
The point being, porn surfing is about the last time consuming strategy you should use. Plus, it’s far too easy to detect. With the technology available today, every keystroke can be recovered and examined without much difficulty. So unless you want the whole world to know you enjoy porn scenarios involving whipped cream and hot chocolate, lay off the smut.
There are about 2.7 million federal workers. It seems trite to say it, but that’s too many people with the opportunity to avoid working. And given the draconian rules that make it impossible to fire a federal worker unless they’ve committed a triple homicide, taxpayers are stuck paying the salaries — and apparently the bonuses — of these slackers.
Sure, there are many hardworking federal workers and God bless them. But until they begin to rat out their sex-addled co-workers, the image of the lazy bureaucrat will remain.
In recent election cycles, the US Chamber of Commerce has backed Republicans almost exclusively. In 2012, that proved to be a disastrous strategy as 13 of the 15 Republican Senate candidates they supported lost, and they won only 4 of 22 House races.
Now, according to Joe Nocera of the New York Times, the Chamber’s National Political Director Rob Engstrom has suggested that the organization support incumbent Senator Mary Landrieu in her race against GOP Rep. Bill Cassidy.
For the Chamber, finding pro-business Democrats to back is a tough job. But Landrieu has a better pro-business voting record than Senator Ted Cruz, according to the Wall Street Journal. And Nocera points out that as the GOP becomes more populist, it’s support for government programs like the Export-Import bank and immigration reform has died off.
What brings this to mind is the continuing fight over the Export-Import Bank. It is the classic kind of issue that used to unite the Republican Party and the Chamber of Commerce, pre-Tea Party: backing a government agency that supports trade by helping to finance deals that involve American exports. That is also the kind of issue that is anathema to Tea Party ideologues, who view it as corporate welfare. The chamber has vowed a “full-court press” to save the Ex-Im Bank, but so far at least, the House is indifferent to its entreaties.
And it’s not just the Ex-Im Bank. As Edward Luce noted this week in The Financial Times, this Congress won’t countenance any of the things that business — and the chamber — care about. Immigration reform is dead. Congress won’t raise the gas tax to fund the Highway Trust Fund. Revamping the corporate tax rate can’t even get a hearing. And on, and on.
It is possible that the chamber didn’t quite realize what it was getting when it helped elect those Tea Party freshmen in 2010 — few people did until they began to flex their muscles. But it is equally possible that it didn’t care. (“The chamber is not an arm of either party and is not ‘aligned’ with either party,” a spokesman told me in an email.)
In the 16 years he has run the Chamber of Commerce, Donohue has turned it into a potent force, in no small part by making it more partisan. But by being so blindly pro-Republican, the chamber “unleashed a Frankenstein that has spun out of control,” said Robert Weissman, the president of Public Citizen, which monitors the Chamber of Commerce. That became most clear during the debt ceiling and deficit fights of the last few years — when the Tea Party Republicans seemed so determined to shrink government that they were even willing to default on the government’s debt. The chamber reacted in horror.
A Chamber spokesman denies that any decision has been made on who to support for the Senate in Louisiana. But the organization’s determination to support Republicans in primaries who reflect the Chamber’s point of view and oppose Tea Party candidates is a clear signal that they are more open to backing candidates who share their philosophy regardless of party affiliation.
In the old days when there were actually a lot of Democrats who had strong, pro-business credentials, the Chamber routinely supported both sides, although their preference was always for moderate Republicans. If the Chamber is not only going to back more moderate Republicans, but return to supporting pro-business Democrats, it would be a troubling development for the Republican party. This is especially true in Louisiana where defeating Landreiu is of paramount importance if Republicans want to win back the Senate.
Money spent backing Democrats also means less money for the GOP. That’s the last thing that Republicans need during these last crucial weeks before the election.
Walter Russel Mead writing in The American Interest:
The reckless and thoughtless Libya intervention just keeps looking worse. But don’t read the critics to see how horrible things are: as the government announces that the U.S. has officially evacuated its embassy in Tripoli this morning, the latest State Department travel advisory for the country says it all.
The advisory reads like a nightmare-vacation brochure:
Sporadic episodes of civil unrest have occurred throughout the country and attacks by armed groups can occur in many different areas; hotels frequented by westerners have been caught in the crossfire. Armed clashes have occurred in the areas near Tripoli International Airport, Airport Road, and Swani Road. Checkpoints controlled by militias are common outside of Tripoli, and at times inside the capital. Closures or threats of closures of international airports occur regularly, whether for maintenance, labor, or security-related incidents. Along with airports, seaports and roads can close with little or no warning. U.S. citizens should closely monitor news and check with airlines to try to travel out of Libya as quickly and safely as possible.
Don’t drink the water and if you go out after dark, make sure you wear your bullet-proof vest.
But Mead is angriest because he feels the lessons of Iraq were ignored by the administration when they blundered into the Libyan war.
If Obama were a Republican, the press and the weekly news shows would be ringing with hyperbolic, apocalyptic denunciations of the clueless incumbent who had failed to learn the most basic lessons of Iraq. Indeed, the MSM right now would be howling that Obama was stupider than Bush. Bush, our Journolist friends would now be saying ad nauseam, at least had the excuse that he didn’t know what happens when you overthrow a paranoid, genocidal, economically incompetent Arab tyrant in an artificial post-colonial state. But Obama did—or, the press would nastily say, he would have done if he’d been doing his job instead of hitting the golf course or yakking it up with his glitzy pals at late night bull sessions. The ad hominem attacks would never stop, and all the tangled threads of incompetence and failure would be endlessly and expertly picked at in long New Yorker articles, NYT thumbsuckers, and chin-strokings on all the Sabbath gasbag shows.
Why, the ever-admirable tribunes of a free and unbiased press would be asking non-stop, didn’t this poor excuse for a President learn from what happened in Iraq? When you upend an insane and murderous dictator who has crushed his people for decades under an incompetent and quirky regime, you’d better realize that there is no effective state or civil society under the hard shell of dictatorial rule. Remove the dictator and you get chaos and anarchy. Wasn’t this President paying attention during the last ten years?
It’s not that Obama wasn’t paying attention, it’s that he believed himself to be smarter than everyone else and that such a fate could not befall him or his policies. Everybody warned the president that post-Qaddafi Libya was going to be a mess, a quagmire, a bloody clash of tribes, factions, and religions. But he dismissed the criticism, even from members of his own party.
Well, here we are, says Mead.
The news is so bad, and the President’s foreign policy is collapsing on so many fronts, that it is impossible to keep the story off the front pages. “Smart diplomacy” has become a punch line, and the dream Team Obama had of making Democrats the go-to national security party is as dead as the passenger pigeon. But what the press can do for the White House it still, with some honorable exceptions, labors to accomplish: it will, when it must, report the dots. But it will try not to connect them, and it will do what it can to let all the people involved in the Libya debacle move on to the next and higher stage of their careers.
Exactly. Have you seen any efforts in the press to connect the dots of Ukraine, Syria, Iraq, Libya, Egypt, Iran, and the border fiasco? The common thread is Obama’s policies leading to war and chaos. Such breathtaking incompetence, naivete, and arrogance have frightened our friends and emboldened our enemies. Not since the clueless reign of Jimmy Carter has American foreign policy been in such utter disarray.
Israel has taken the measure of this president and is ignoring his calls for a ceasefire in order to do what it thinks necessary for its security. Vladimir Putin has also sized up this president and realized that he can do just about anything — including helping to shoot down a passenger plane — with little fear of reprisal. Hundreds of thousands of people in Central America have judged President Obama to be an easy mark and are either here or on their way here.
At least Bush’s unforced errors were mostly confined to Iraq and Afghanistan. Obama’s incompetence spans the globe and the failure of his policies has the potential of igniting larger conflicts.
When you view the world through an extreme ideological prism, you see what your ideology tells you is real. The worldview expressed by President Obama was laughed out of America in 1972 when George McGovern told America to “come home.” It was apparently buried in 1984 when Walter Mondale lost 49 states.
But here it is, alive and well in 2014. When you believe your country is at fault for most of the world’s ills; when you think you can charm your enemies into being friends; when you think allies don’t matter; when you believe your own sycophantic press clippings regarding your ability to “lead from behind” — well, the resulting chaos and bloodshed let loose when America takes a back seat in world affairs is entirely predictable.
With American credibility in the toilet, you have to wonder if a total meltdown is avoidable.
A very harsh assessment comes from an Israeli government source on the efforts of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to broker a ceasefire late last week.
The Times of Israel is reporting that a government official told Israeli Channel 2 that Kerry “dug a tunnel under the Egyptian ceasefire proposal” which was accepted by Israel on Friday, and gave the Israeli government a text that accepted most of the demands made by Hamas.
To the “horror” of the Israeli ministers, the Kerry proposal accepted Hamas’s demands for the opening of border crossings into Gaza — where Israel and Egypt fear the import of weaponry; the construction of a seaport; and the creation of a post-conflict funding channel for Hamas from Qatar and other countries, according to the sources. The proposal, meanwhile, did not even provide for Israel to continue demolishing the Hamas network of “terror tunnels” dug under the Israeli border.
Rather than provoke an open diplomatic confrontation with the United States, the report said, the appalled ministers chose not to issue an official statement rejecting the Kerry terms. Instead, word of the decision was allowed to leak out.
The cabinet was meeting again on Saturday night to discuss all aspects of the 19-day conflict with Hamas. Ongoing efforts were being made to reformulate the ceasefire terms, Israeli sources said.
Channel 2′s diplomatic reporter Udi Segal said “voices” from the cabinet had described Kerry as “negligent,” “lacking the ability to understand” the issues, and “incapable of handling the most basic matters.”
Yep. That’s our Johnny. No one has ever accused Kerry of being the brightest bulb in the room, and this pretty much confirms everyone’s previous opinion of him.
The Channel 2 report said that some of those involved in the contacts with Kerry had suggested that “perhaps there was some kind of misunderstanding” or that Kerry “was only presenting a draft” of the offer, but the secretary himself gave no indication that this was the case when he expressed his disappointment that no ceasefire had been agreed during a press conference in Cairo on Friday night.
In fact, it makes you wonder which side Kerry is on.
Noting that the US secretary chose to hold Saturday’s talks without representatives of Israel, the Palestinian Authority or Egypt, Erdan said this showed “we’re a long way from a political solution.”
Privately, Israeli leaders have signaled deep dismay that Kerry engaged in talks in Paris with representatives of Turkey, whose leadership is openly hostile to Israel, and Qatar, whose leadership is seen by Israel to be representing Hamas’s interests, and not to include Israel, the PA or Egypt.
Israeli government sources also privately contradicted Kerry’s assertion Friday that his ceasefire proposal was “built on” an Egyptian proposal from last Tuesday, which Israel accepted and Hamas rejected. Far from resembling the Egyptian proposal, which urges an immediate ceasefire followed by negotiation, the Kerry proposal leans heavily toward Hamas, the sources said, in tying Hamas preconditions to a cessation of hostilities.
Turkey’s Prime Minister Erdogan said recently, “Those who condemn Hitler day and night have surpassed Hitler in barbarism.” Nice company you’re keeping there, Mr. Secretary.
Maybe it’s for the better that we have Kerry bumbling and fumbling around in the Middle East. His incompetence gives Israel a perfect excuse to continue their attack on Hamas. Imagine a competent secretary of state. If history is a guide, we would have had a ceasefire by now. Kerry is the only U.S. secretary of state in 20 years unable to negotiate an end to hostilities between Israelis and Palestinians.
That’s the kind of accomplishment we’ve come to expect from him.
With exactly 100 days to go before the November 4 mid term elections, Republicans still see a path to a Senate majority, but Democrats are holding out hope that some of their vulnerable incumbents can squeak through to victory.
The good news is that, in 3 red state open Senate races currently held by Democrats, GOP candidates maintain solid leads on their opponents. West Virginia, Montana, and South Dakota all appear ready to fall to the Republicans.
But in 4 other races that feature vulnerable Democratic incumbents who were thought to be ripe targets for the Republicans, Democrats are running better than expected.
Sens. Kay Hagan (D-N.C.) and Mark Begich (D-Alaska) seem to have the edge in their races, Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) is hanging tough, and Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) isn’t dead yet.
Hagan’s approval ratings are low, but state House Speaker Thom Tillis (R) is even less popular, and public and private polls both show her ahead.
Tillis has been trapped in an extended legislative session as unpopular GOP lawmakers war over the state budget, and Hagan has a four-to-one cash advantage.
“Tillis has to put this legislative fight behind him. He’s got to move on. He’s struggled,” admitted one national GOP strategist.
Begich also appears to be in good shape in a tough state. His attacks on GOP primary front-runner Dan Sullivan have taken a toll and could hurt him in his August primary, too.
“Begich is running the best race of any Democrat right now,” said another national Republican consultant. “In Alaska it’s tough to see the path to victory until this primary plays itself out.”
Pryor has stayed alive because of Cotton’s unbending conservatism, most notably his vote against the Farm Bill. Both parties say they have a small advantage in the race and each have polls to back those claims.
Democrats admit Landrieu is their most vulnerable incumbent. It will be hard for her to reach the 50 percent threshold needed to avoid a December runoff with two GOP candidates on the ballot. If that scenario plays out, Republicans believe Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) holds the edge in a runoff, especially if Senate control remains undecided after November.
Landrieu has been in this position before. She narrowly won run off elections in 1996 and 2002. Of the four vulnerable Dems, she probably has the best chance to sneak through.
All four are extremely well funded and outside money is pouring into their coffers. Republican candidates are trying to catch up, and between now and Labor Day should give a good showing of themselves in raising cash.
But circumstances have arisen in Iowa and Colorado that have cheered Republicans and placed those two races that were previously thought to lean Democratic into the toss-up column:
While Republicans have failed to knock out the incumbents some predicted would be underwater by this point in the election cycle, Rep. Bruce Braley’s (D-Iowa) missteps have given Democrats severe heartburn in that open seat race, and Rep. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) is also running strong against Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.).
“We really have already expanded the field…. A year ago we weren’t even talking about those races. We were talking about having to win three of four open seats,” Carl Forti, the political director of the GOP super-PAC American Crossroads, told The Hill.
Braley damaged himself with comments that as a trial lawyer he’s more qualified than popular Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), “a farmer from Iowa who never went to law school,” to serve on the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Iowa state Sen. Joni Ernst (R) has run a strong race so far, and Democrats admit Braley’s lackluster campaign is cause for alarm.
“Braley has shot himself in the foot again and again. We have a lot of work to do. Iowa is a lot closer than we want it to be,” said one national Democrat.
Gardner’s entrance into the race earlier this year put Colorado on the Senate map. Democrats think Udall’s attacks on social issues have paid dividends, though Udall has squirmed on some controversial environmental issues. Recent public surveys show a dead-even race, but private polling from both sides show the incumbent up slightly.
Other potential GOP targets in Michigan and New Hampshire appear to be slipping away. In Michigan, Rep. Gary Peters has opened a significant lead over Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land in a race to succeed retiring Democrat Carl Levn, while in New Hampshire, former Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown’s campaign against Senator Jeanne Shaheen has failed to generate much momentum.
Democratic hopes rest on the open Georgia race where charity exec Michelle Nunn, daughter of legendary Georgia Senator Sam Nunn, has raised a lot of money and received good reviews for her efforts. But she’s running an uphill campaign against GOP nominee David Perdue. There has been talk about “changing demographics” in Georgia which Democrats believe give Nunn a shot at victory. But Georgia is still a very conservative state and Republicans have a clear advantage. Perdue would probably have to commit some horrible gaffe for Nunn to win.
Political prognosticator Charlie Cook still gives the Republicans a 50-50 shot at winning the Senate. Now, 100 days out, the sprint to the finish is underway and Republicans consider themselves in very good shape.
The New York Times has given the pot-legalization movement a huge boost by coming out in an editorial today advocating for the repeal of federal marijuana laws.
We reached that conclusion after a great deal of discussion among the members of The Times’s Editorial Board, inspired by a rapidly growing movement among the states to reform marijuana laws.
There are no perfect answers to people’s legitimate concerns about marijuana use. But neither are there such answers about tobacco or alcohol, and we believe that on every level — health effects, the impact on society and law-and-order issues — the balance falls squarely on the side of national legalization. That will put decisions on whether to allow recreational or medicinal production and use where it belongs — at the state level.
We considered whether it would be best for Washington to hold back while the states continued experimenting with legalizing medicinal uses of marijuana, reducing penalties, or even simply legalizing all use. Nearly three-quarters of the states have done one of these.
But that would leave their citizens vulnerable to the whims of whoever happens to be in the White House and chooses to enforce or not enforce the federal law.
The social costs of the marijuana laws are vast. There were 658,000 arrests for marijuana possession in 2012, according to F.B.I. figures, compared with 256,000 for cocaine, heroin and their derivatives. Even worse, the result is racist, falling disproportionately on young black men, ruining their lives and creating new generations of career criminals.
There is honest debate among scientists about the health effects of marijuana, but we believe that the evidence is overwhelming that addiction and dependence are relatively minor problems, especially compared with alcohol and tobacco. Moderate use of marijuana does not appear to pose a risk for otherwise healthy adults. Claims that marijuana is a gateway to more dangerous drugs are as fanciful as the “Reefer Madness” images of murder, rape and suicide.
There are legitimate concerns about marijuana on the development of adolescent brains. For that reason, we advocate the prohibition of sales to people under 21.
There has been far less research on the effects of pot on the body and brain than there has been on alcohol and tobacco. The evidence, for instance, that pot smoking can lead to an decrease in the production of serotonin – a brain chemical associated with mood and depression — is pretty well established. There is impact on memory, mostly long-term memory, as well as lingering effects on the heart, lungs, and kidneys.
The problem with the idea of “moderate use” is that the government defines “moderate” as smoking pot 3 to 8 times a month. It’s pretty obvious no one on the Times editorial board is smoking weed these days. Most pot smokers I’ve ever known — myself included — got high 3 or 4 times a week.
Then there’s the Colorado experiment with the jury still out regarding legalized pot’s effect on society. Taken together, the Times, in my opinion, is jumping the gun on national legalization, or decriminalization. What’s the rush? Let’s see how things work out in Colorado before we start debating the future of marijuana in America.
Perhaps it’s just as well that Hamas rejected Israel’s suggested four-hour extension of the Gaza truce. It isn’t so much that the world will blame Hamas for the resumption of hostilities — no chance of that. It’s that Israel has unfinished business in Gaza: those insidious tunnels and Hamas’s cache of arms and missiles must be destroyed.
Hamas rejected the offer to extend the truce at least four hours and possibly longer, and fired missiles into Isreal.
The cease-fire rejection came after the Israeli Cabinet agreed to extend the 12-hour truce until midnight Saturday, and Yuval Steinitz, an Israeli Cabinet minister, said a further extension would be considered.
Earlier Saturday, the Israeli military had warned that it “shall respond if terrorists choose to exploit” the lull to attack Israeli troops “or fire at Israeli civilians.” It also said that operations to locate and neutralize tunnels would continue.
Meanwhile, at least 100 bodies were recovered Saturday, Gaza health official Ashraf al-Kidra said, as Palestinians used the cease-fire to move medical supplies and tend to the dead and injured in the Gaza Strip.
As the initial lull in hostilities began at 8 a.m. Saturday, Gazans poured onto the streets to find food supplies, look for missing family members or return to homes they left for shelters. The nearly three weeks of fighting has left swaths of rubble, destroyed roads and damaged power infrastructure in residential neighborhoods across the strip.
More than 1,000 Palestinians, mainly civilians, have been killed since the conflict began on July 8. Another 6,000 have been wounded. In Israel, 43 have died, including 40 soldiers, two civilians and a Thai worker.
Imad Nasrallah, 38, said he and others have made it a point not to forget the living.
“With my brothers and neighbors, we volunteer and go help others, in case their homes were targeted,” Nasrallah said. “We transfer the wounded to hospitals or go carry the martyrs and bury them.”
Saturday’s temporary truce was the second and the longest since the conflict began on July 8. A humanitarian cease-fire on July 17 was quickly overlooked as rocket fire resumed as soon as the set five hours expired.
In Paris on Saturday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met with European foreign ministers to find ways to build off Saturday’s lull.
It was not to be. Kerry is being ignored by the Israelis as the government seems utterly determined to carry on its military mission until Hamas is neutralized. They have gone to war with the terrorists three times in the last five years. Israel’s citizens are under constant threat from thousands of missiles launched from Gaza every year, and Hamas has used its network of tunnels to carry out attacks on civilians.
Israel will de-militarize Gaza one way or another. And all the efforts by western powers to get them to dial it back will go for naught.
The fact that people are seriously discussing the idea that the president of the United States has given up and is pining for retirement is unprecedented in my lifetime. I’m sure the during their last few months in office, most presidents begin mailing it in. But we are two and a half years from the end of the Obama presidency and the world order is collapsing while our borders are disintegrating. Without a strong hand at the helm of the ship of state, the aimless drift of American leadership is causing events to spiral out of control.
Matt Lewis of the Daily Caller penned a column for the Telegraph this weekend that states “Barack Obama has already checked out of his job.” But Lewis isn’t the only commentator who has wondered out loud about the president’s commitment to his job. Peggy Noonan wrote in her Wall Street Journal column earlier this month that Obama appears “above it all” and that his fancy dinners with celebrities and intellectuals as well as his endless rounds of golf present a frightening picture of a president detached from reality and “waiting for history to recognize his greatness.”
Jazz Shaw at Hot Air agrees with that assessment. Shaw points to Obama’s vision that he naively believed would be shared by everyone — “that everyone would, sooner or later, recognize the brilliance of his vision and the structural soundness of his solutions to the planet’s ills and things would truly change.” When they didn’t, Obama walked away.
Lewis, in his Telegraph column, lays out the evidence for Obama’s tanking it:
The fact that the press would find relevance in speculating on Obama’s post-White House residence – and identify California as the kind of scene the future ex-president would want to hang out in when he leaves office – is perhaps telling.
And, indeed, this comes on the heels of multiple reports from outlets such as The New York Times and Politico, detailing how Obama has increasingly been spending his time at trendy restaurants and fancy, late-night dinner parties with celebrities and various intellectuals.
Rubbing elbows with the rich and elite is fine enough. Unfortunately, the work suffers. The degree to which he is now phoning it in – sleepwalking perfunctorily through his second term – is astonishing.
And based on his recent handling of situations much more serious than a possible post-presidential move to sunny California, it seems as if “No Drama Obama” is no longer even worried about keeping up appearances; he doesn’t care enough to fake it.
Consider this: In recent days, a) Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was shot down, apparently by Russian separatists in Ukraine, b) In the Gaza strip, the numbers killed continued to mount as Israelis and Palestinians exchange rocket fire, c) a huge influx of children fleeing Central American poverty and gang warfare swamped America’s southern border, creating a humanitarian crisis. And, oh yeah, d) Christians living in Mosul were given the choice to either convert to Islam or flee the area they have inhabited for nearly two thousand years.
You know what else has happened during this time? a) Obama played many rounds of golf, b) he attended numerous fund-raisers, c) he dined on barbecue in Texas and burgers in Delaware, and d) he almost appeared on the comedian Jimmy Kimmel’s late-night television show in Hollywood.
I say “almost” because the White House finally relented. “We ultimately elected not to have the president do that interview over the course of this trip,” the White House press secretary, Josh Earnest, conceded. “And that is at least in part related to the challenges of doing a comedy show in the midst of some of these other more serious matters that the president’s dealing with in the international scene.”
You’ve got to give credit to Washington, D.C.’s non voting delegate to Congress Eleanor Holmes Norton for her novel interpretation of the Constitution and legislative tradition.
Becoming exasperated with Republicans on the House Oversight Committee who kept insisting that a White House aide cannot ignore a subpoena to testify, Norton scolded Chairman Darrell Issa, telling him “You don’t have a right to know everything in a separation-of-powers government, my friend.”
Eleanor Holmes Norton, the non-voting congressional delegate for the District of Columbia, angrily sputtered during a congressional hearing Friday that the White House should not be held up to scrutiny, saying that there was no right to know what it was doing behind closed doors.
“You don’t have a right to know everything in a separation-of-powers government, my friend. That is the difference between a parliamentary government and a separation-of-powers government,” Norton said during a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing.
It was, to put mildly, a significant departure from the more traditional liberal stance that openness and transparency are must to prevent abuses of power by government officials. Instead the leading advocate for statehood for the District of Columbia literally argued that even the congressional committee charged with oversight shouldn’t be asking questions in the first place.
She made the comments while protesting the committee’s Republican majority for voting to ignore a claim by the White House that David Simas, director of it’s Office of Political Strategy and Outreach, was immune to a congressional subpoena to testify. Republicans believe the office is being used a political campaign operation, a violation of federal election law.
Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., noted he was not alleging any wrongdoing by Simas, but there was a history of violations involving that particular office in prior administrations that justified requesting his testimony.
Under President Obama, the White House has asserted sweeping executive powers, including the right to ignore pretty much all congressional inquiries. The administration has regularly ignored subpoenas from congressional committees.
Holmes was clearly down with that. She called Issa’s subpoena a “showcase fishing expedition.” She went on to argue that the Constitution’s separation of powers specifically gives the people who work directly under the chief executive immunity from subpoenas. “The president’s immediate advisor is not an agency and this is not a matter of policy,” she said, before going to further clarify that we “don’t have a right to know” everything that the administration does.
The Legal Information Institute makes Holmes-Norton look like the idiot she is:
The Court has long since accorded its agreement with Congress that the investigatory power is so essential to the legislative function as to be implied from the general vesting of legislative power in Congress. “We are of the opinion,” wrote Justice Van Devanter, for a unanimous Court, “that the power of inquiry—with process to enforce it—is an essential and appropriate auxiliary to the legislative function. . . . A legislative body cannot legislate wisely or effectively in the absence of information respecting the conditions which the legislation is intended to affect or change; and where the legislative body does not itself possess the requisite information— which not infrequently is true—recourse must be had to others who possess it. Experience has taught that mere requests for such information often are unavailing, and also that information which is volunteered is not always accurate or complete; so some means of compulsion are essential to obtain what is needed. All this was true before and when the Constitution was framed and adopted. In that period the power of inquiry—with enforcing process—was regarded and employed as a necessary and appropriate attribute of the power to legislate— indeed, was treated as inhering in it. Thus there is ample warrant for thinking, as we do, that the constitutional provisions which commit the legislative function to the two houses are intended to include this attribute to the end that the function may be effectively exercised.”163
You can’t get any clearer than that. Both conservative and liberal justices have recognized the right of Congress to investigate just about anything it wants — including, especially, the executive branch. In 1927, the court “ratified in sweeping terms, the power of Congress to inquire into the administration of an executive department and to sift charges of malfeasance in such administration.”
There are limits on congressional investigative powers, especially regarding private citizens. But demanding testimony from the White House aide running the Office of Political Strategy because Congress believes “the office is being used a political campaign operation, a violation of federal election law,” is the very definition of “malfeasance” and therefore, well within the purview of the Committee’s investigative mandate.
Since contempt citations apparently mean even less than subpoenas to this administration, it’s hard to see how the Oversight Committee can compel anyone’s testimony who works at the White House. It’s just more evidence, if any more were needed, that this president regularly thumbs his nose at the law and tries to stonewall congress when the seek to expose his administration’s wrongdoing.
President Obama is preparing executive orders that would grant up to 5 million illegal aliens temporary legal status, giving them the ability to work in the US.
Time Magazine is reporting that, although Obamaa is keeping his options open, it is likely he will grant relief from deportation and the temporary work authorizations to millions of illegal immigrants. Some experts believe Obama possesses this authority, although Republicans in Congress will almost certainly dispute that.
Exactly what Obama plans to do is a closely held secret. But following the meeting with the activists, Obama declared his intention to use his executive authority to reform parts of a broken immigration system that has cleaved families and hobbled the economy. After being informed by Speaker John Boehner that the Republican-controlled House would not vote on a comprehensive overhaul of U.S. immigration law this year, the President announced in a fiery speech that he was preparing “to do what Congress refuses to do, and fix as much of our immigration system as we can.”
Obama has been cautious about preempting Congress. But its failure to act has changed his thinking. The recent meeting “was really the first time we had heard from the administration that they are looking at” expanding a program to provide temporary relief from deportations and work authorization for undocumented immigrants, says Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center.
The White House won’t comment on how many undocumented immigrants could be affected. “I don’t want to put a number on it,” says a senior White House official, who says Obama’s timeline to act before the mid-term elections remains in place.
Obama has a broad menu of options at his disposal, but there are two major sets of changes he can order. The first is to provide affirmative relief from deportation to one or more groups of people. Under this mechanism, individuals identified as “low-priority” threats can come forward to seek temporary protection from deportation and work authorization. In 2012, the administration created a program, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), that allowed eligible young unauthorized immigrants to apply for a two-year reprieve from deportation and a work permit.
The most aggressive option in this category would be expanding deferred action to anyone who could have gained legal status under the bipartisan bill that passed the Senate in June 2013. According to a Congressional Budget Office analysis, the Senate bill would have covered up to 8 million undocumented immigrants. It is unlikely that Obama goes that far. But even more modest steps could provide relief to a population numbering in the seven figures. “You can get to big numbers very quickly,” says Marshall Fitz, director of immigration policy at the Center for American Progress, a progressive think tank.
“Obama has been cautious about preempting Congress.” Uh-huh. He was cautious 41 times when he unilaterally altered Obamacare. He was cautious when he unilaterally changed the law to allow hundreds of thousands of DREAMers legal status. He was cautious when he unilaterally halted most deportations. He was cautious when he ordered the Justice Department not to enforce DOMA. He was cautious when he made illegal recess appointments to the NLRB.
I don’t think Time has the same definition of “cautious” as you and I do.
Rep. Gutierrez believes that the number will be about 5 million. It will almost certainly include agricultural workers to make the Chamber of Commerce happy. Others on the list to be amnestied include family members of DREAMers already made legal by Obama’s other executive order.
Does anyone believe that this “temporary legal status” will actually be temporary?
No comment yet from the 1.5 million people waiting in other countries who are seeking to come to the US legally.
Montana Senator John Walsh’s campaign was already in trouble when the New York Times broke the story of his massive plagiarizing for his master’s thesis at the Army War College.
His disingenuous “explanation” should seal his doom.
Walsh, appointed to fill the remaining term of Max Baucus and now running for a full term, is a former adjutant general of the Montana National Guard. He was a battalion commander in the Iraq War — the only senator who served in that conflict.
But the plagiarism charge — and Walsh’s effort to minimize it — reveals a soldier who lacks the integrity to admit his mistakes honestly and forthrightly.
Walsh dismissed the notion that the plagiarism allegations will affect his candidacy.
“I don’t really see it as having a negative impact on the campaign,” he told The Associated Press in a telephone interview Wednesday. “Montanans are really pleased with what I am accomplishing back here (in Washington).”
Walsh has a short window in which to figure out whether the allegations could be too toxic for him to win the Nov. 4 election. A candidate has until Aug. 11 to withdraw from this year’s contest, and the state party has until Aug. 20 to name a replacement candidate, Montana Secretary of State Linda McCulloch said Thursday.
If Walsh decides to drop out after the ballots are certified on Aug. 21, a new candidate can’t be appointed, and Walsh’s name will stay on the ballot, she said.
Walsh said that when he wrote the thesis, he had post-traumatic stress disorder from his service in Iraq, was on medication and was dealing with the stress of a fellow veteran’s recent suicide.
“I don’t want to blame my mistake on PTSD, but I do want to say it may have been a factor,” the senator said. “My head was not in a place very conducive to a classroom and an academic environment.”
He said he didn’t plagiarize but that his thesis contained “a few citations that were unintentionally left out.”
A “few citations”? AP supplies details of Walsh’s dishonesty:
Walsh submitted his thesis, titled “The Case for Democracy as a Long Term National Strategy,” nearly two years after he returned from Iraq and about a year before he became Montana’s adjutant general overseeing the state’s National Guard and Department of Military Affairs.
The first page borrows heavily from a 2003 Foreign Affairs piece written by Thomas Carothers, vice president for studies at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and a 2009 book by Natan Sharansky with Ron Dermer, “The Case for Democracy: The Power of Freedom to Overcome Tyranny and Terror.”
Sharansky is a former Soviet dissident and chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel. Dermer is the Israeli ambassador to the United States.
All six of the recommendations that Walsh listed at the end of his paper are taken nearly word-for-word without attribution from a Carnegie paper written by Carothers and three other scholars at the institute.
One section is nearly identical to about 600 words from a 1998 paper by Sean Lynn-Jones, a scholar at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, a research institute at Harvard.
We should sympathize and support Senator Walsh in his battle against PTSD, but how is it remotely connected to deliberately using the work from others and claiming it as your own? It is certainly far more than leaving out a few “citations.”
Previously, his military record was questioned when it was revealed that he received a letter of reprimand from the Army as the result of an inspector general’s report that accused him of improper conduct. The AP reports:
Walsh’s military record was first questioned in January when records revealed the Army reprimanded him in 2010 for pressuring Guardsmen to join a private association for which he was seeking a leadership role.
Walsh was adjutant general at the time and wanted to become vice chairman of the National Guard Association of the United States. In the reprimand, Army Vice Chief of Staff Peter Chiarelli said he questioned Walsh’s ability to lead.
Most analysts had already place Montana in the GOP column. But a recent poll suggests the race is tightening:
Human Events and Gravis Marketing polled the US Senate race in Montana first. Gravis found a tightening race between Senator John Walsh and Representative Steve Daines. Representative Daines lead Senator Walsh 45%-41% with the Libertarian candidate Roger Roots taking 6% of the vote. Daines’ lead might increase as time goes on because third-party candidates have been known to have their percentages fizzle closer to Election Day. “An incumbent such as Senator Walsh might be getting worried,” Gravis Marketing head Doug Kaplan said, “An incumbent that has percentages in the low 40’s at this time of the year might have a hard time getting re-elected.”
The Daines campaign had no comment on the charges. No doubt they are allowing their opponent to destroy himself without any help from them. For, indeed, if the Army War College finds substance in these charges, it will destroy a major selling point for Walsh’s campaign: his honorable service as National Guard commander.
Politicians like Joe Biden have survived plagiarism charges before. In and of itself, plagiarism is probably not a deal killer with the Montana electorate. But the dual blows to Walsh’s military record are probably enough to either cause him to withdraw from the race, or lose handily in November.
This case was going to the Supreme Court anyway, but for the notoriously liberal U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit to rule the subsidies invalid may sound the deathknell of an important part of Obamacare.
This morning the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit released its much awaited opinion in Halbig v. Burwell. In a 2-1 opinion, the Court held that the Internal Revenue Service regulation authorizing tax credits in federal exchanges was invalid. Judge Griffith, writing for the court, concluded, “the ACA unambiguously restricts the section 36B subsidy to insurance purchased on Exchanges ‘established by the State.” In other words, the court reaffirmed the principle that the law is what Congress enacts — the text of the statute itself — and not the unexpressed intentions or hopes of legislators or a bill’s proponents. Judge Randolph joined Judge Griffith’s opinion and wrote a concurrence. Judge Edwards dissented. The opinions are available here.
Background on the case can be found here.
CNBC lays out some of the consequences of the ruling:
A judicial panel in a 2-1 ruling said such subsidies can be granted only to those people who bought insurance in an Obamacare exchange run by an individual state or the District of Columbia — not on the federally run exchange HealthCare.gov.
“Section 36B plainly makes subsidies available in the Exchanges established by states,” wrote Senior Circuit Judge Raymond Randolph in his majority opinion, where he was joined by Judge Thomas Griffith. “We reach this conclusion, frankly, with reluctance. At least until states that wish to can set up their own Exchanges, our ruling will likely have significant consequences both for millions of individuals receiving tax credits through federal Exchanges and for health insurance markets more broadly.”
In his dissent, Judge Harry Edwards, who called the case a “not-so-veiled attempt to gut” Obamacare, wrote that the judgment of the majority “portends disastrous consequences.”
Indeed, the decision threatens to unleash a cascade of effects that could seriously compromise Obamacare’s goals of compelling people to get health insurance, and helping them afford it.
To end your weekend on a real upper, Daily Caller has assembled 15 of the most adorable and emotional videos you’ll ever see; soldiers returning from deployment reunited with their dogs.
There is a question among scientists about whether dogs miss their human companions more after a long period of time as opposed to a few hours. Those of us who have had dogs for many years know the answer to that. We don’t need a scientist to tell us the absolute joy a dog shows when a friend returns after a long absence. It’s magic.
This is my favorite among the 15 entries. I love how the dog is trying so hard to speak. Enjoy.
Secretary of State John Kerry is apparently displeased with Israel for the way they are defending themselves from Hamas rocket attacks.
Appearing on Fox News Sunday — one of five talk shows on which Kerry made an appearance — the secretary of state was caught on an open mic talking to an aide about Israel’s efforts so far:
“It’s a hell of a pinpoint operation, it’s a hell of a pinpoint operation,” Kerry said to an aide on the phone, with some measure of frustration.
His comments seemed to be criticizing the Israeli government’s assurances about the limited scope of its attack and ground invasion of Gaza.
Kerry, speaking by phone to one of his top aides, then added: “We’ve got to get over there. Thank you John. I think John, we ought to go tonight. I think it’s crazy to be sitting around.”
Kerry was confronted on air by host Chris Wallace, who asked if Kerry was implying that the Israeli government had gone too far in its Gaza operations.
“While you were on camera and while you were on microphone, you just talked to one of your top aides about the situation in Israel and the fact that 14 Israelis have apparently been shot and killed in an operation,” Wallace said.
Kerry stood by his comments, while defending Israel’s right to defend itself.
“It’s tough to have these kind of operations. I reacted, obviously, in a way that anybody does with respect to young children and civilians,” Kerry said,
“War is tough. I’ve said that publicly and I’ve said it again. We defend Israeli’s right to do what it is doing,” Kerry said.
“We support Israel’s right to defend itself against rockets that are continuing to come in. Hamas has started its process of rocketing after Israel was trying to find the people who killed three young [people] — one American kid, three young Israelis,” Kerry said.
If Israel was not engaged in a “pinpoint operation,” the casualties might be 10 times higher. If Israel was not engaged in a “pinpoint operation,” they wouldn’t have called every resident of that neighborhood two days ago telling them to leave. (What other nation in the history of warfare tells their enemy they are coming in order to minimize civilian casualties?)
Kerry is a putz. He gives Israel no credit for their efforts to avoid civilian casualties while failing to note that Hamas is using civilians as human shields. The more dead babies the better for Hamas. They’ve been playing this game a long time.
Kerry was probably reacting to the news that 70 Palestinians had been killed in Israel’s offensive today. He might have mentioned that 13 Israeli soldiers also lost their lives. He might also have said that it is unknown how many of the 70 dead Palestinians were shooting at Israeli soldiers.
In short, blaming Israel for the tactics of Hamas is irrational, illogical, and indicative of an anti-Israeli bias.
Ten thousand years from now, historians — if historians there be — will not have much to say about the 20th century. It will be seen as an obscure epoch where nothing very interesting happened — at least compared to our making First Contact with aliens, or the singularity coming about, or perhaps a cure for the common cold.
Except the landing on the moon, of course.
The wars, the political upheavals, the giant personalities may be worth a footnote or two in some grad student’s thesis. But the achievement of sending men to the moon and returning them safely to earth will never be forgotten as long as humans inhabit the planet. Our very first attempt to take a tentative step beyond the earth is easily the most significant development in human history to date both for what the event represented as far as what our species was capable, and how humans define themselves.
Petty politics, courage, brilliant thinking, striving to satisfy an insatiable curiosity, an ability to work together to achieve a common goal — all of this and more went into the machines we hurled toward the moon in July of 1969.
We had never conceived or built anything like them before or since. Consider:
* The Saturn V rocket that carried the crew into orbit was as tall as a 36 story building and weighed 6.5 million pounds. It was the largest machine ever built by man then, and remains so today.
* At takeoff, the Saturn V generated 7.6 million pounds of thrust. The Shuttle generated 5.4 million pounds of thrust.
* Up to 500,000 workers laid a hand on at least one of the Apollo’s systems — Saturn V, command module, and the Lunar module. By comparison, the Panama Canal employed about 70,000 workers.
* The Lunar Module was the first spacecraft designed to fly only in space. To save weight, there were parts of the outer skin that were less than 2 inches thick.
* More than 20,000 people at NASA, private companies, and other government agencies acted as support staff for the flight of Apollo 11.
This was a dangerous mission but, from the astronauts point of view, the risk was acceptable. It might be a much different story in today’s risk-averse NASA, but by necessity, so many of the systems employed on the flight could not be realistically tested, that some critical components like the LM ascent engine, would see their first real test on the moon’s surface.
The descent to the surface is the most dramatic part of the mission. This video synched up capcom communications with film taken from Apollo 11 cameras:
A little known and remembered fact from those tense July days; the Soviet Union had launched a sample return mission to the moon — Luna 15 — that was scheduled to beat Apollo 11 back to earth by a few hours and present the world with the first moonrocks. Unfortunately for the Soviets, the craft crashed on the surface and they failed to upstage Apollo 11.
So was it a waste of money? If you were to separate the larger space program from the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo moon programs, you could make a very good argument that manned space flight was unnecessary. While satellites have changed the world, the manned program has had very little impact beyond national bragging rights. It may be that we must learn to live and work in space, but if NASA had done it right, manned space flight would have been developed by private industry.
The trip to the moon cost $125 billion in today’s dollars. We sent a 36 story building toward the moon and what we got back could fit in the living room of most American homes. Moon rocks are nice, and the knowledge gained from sending men to the moon is valuable, but what kind of return did we get on that stupendous investment?
These are all good questions, but despite the political nature of the effort, I still think it was worth it in a metaphysical way. Can you place a value on validating our national identity? On ultimately showing that capitalism is superior to communism? On defining our character as a people?
I understand and appreciate the arguments against the Apollo program. But what Apollo 11 ultimately accomplished was to achieve the landing of humans on the moon at exactly the first moment in history when it was possible to do so.
That’s an achievement that will stand the test of time for all time.
The Washington Post is reporting that the Obama administration was fully aware of the spike in illegal alien children crossing the border almost a year ago and failed to do anything to prepare for it.
In fact, despite a report from the Department of Homeland Security that said the crush at the border was going to get much worse, federal officials viewed the crisis as a “local problem” according to WaPo.
Governor Rick Perry sent a letter to the president in 2012, also warning of the brewing crisis. Perry’s letter and the DHS report were ignored until the crisis became unmanageable.
The researchers’ observations were among the warning signs conveyed to the Obama administration over the past two years as a surge of Central American minors has crossed into south Texas illegally. More than 57,000 have entered the United States this year, swamping federal resources and catching the government unprepared.
The administration did too little to heed those warnings, according to interviews with former government officials, outside experts and immigrant advocates, leading to an inadequate response that contributed to this summer’s escalating crisis.
Federal officials viewed the situation as a “local problem,” said Victor Manjarrez Jr., a former Border Patrol station chief who led the UTEP study. The research, conducted last year, was funded by the Department of Homeland Security and published in March. A broader crisis was “not on anyone’s radar,” Manjarrez added, even though “it was pretty clear this number of kids was going to be the new baseline.”
So what was the problem? If you listen closely to what this bureaucrat is saying, since the real-time information didn’t fit in with their graphs and chart projections, they didn’t believe what they were seeing:
“What happened this year was . . . off-the-charts different,” Muñoz said. “It was not the same pattern. We assumed a significant increase, but this was not the same kind of trend line.
“This trend was more like a hockey stick, going up and up and up,” Muñoz added. “Nobody could have predicted the scale of the increase we saw this year. The minute we saw it, we responded in an aggressive way.”
But top officials at the White House and the State Department had been warned repeatedly of the potential for a further explosion in the number of migrant children since the crisis began escalating two years ago, according to former federal officials and others familiar with internal discussions. The White House was directly involved in efforts in early 2012 to care for the children when it helped negotiate a temporary shelter at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio.
“There were warning signs, operational folks raising red flags to high levels in terms of this being a potential issue,” said one former senior federal law enforcement official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to talk candidly about internal operations.
The former official said the agencies primarily in charge of border security, Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement, were “ringing alarm bells” within the administration.
Meanwhile, top officials focused much of their attention on political battles, such as Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign and the push to win congressional support for a broad immigration overhaul, that would have been made more difficult with the addition of a high-profile border crisis.
“I don’t think they ignored this on purpose, but they didn’t know what to do,” said Michelle Brané, director of migrant rights at the Women’s Refugee Commission, which published a 2012 report highlighting the influx of minors. “For whatever reason, there was hesitation to address the root causes. I think the administration was dealing with it at a minimal scale, putting a Band-Aid on something they should have been thinking about holistically.”
In fact, they did their best to hide the surge from Congress and the American people while the president pushed an immigration reform bill that would have done absolutely nothing to stem the flow of illegals crossing the border. There’s a good chance it would have made the situation worse.
Incompetence and a lack of transparency have been the hallmarks of this administration since they took office. It’s no wonder we’ve got an unmanageable crisis when our national leaders prefer to look away and hope for the best rather than deal with the problem.
A coalition of anti-illegal immigration groups are staging protests this weekend around the country in what’s being touted as “the largest coordinated protest against all forms of amnesty, comprehensive immigration reform, and the government’s failure to enforce immigration laws and secure our borders.”
According to the group’s website, hundreds of protests will take place on Friday and Saturday. There were apparently sporadic clashes between pro and anti-illegal immigrant forces at some of the rallies, but overall, words rather than blows appeared to be exchanged.
Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, writes in the Washington Times that a tipping point against illegal immigration may have arrived:
The response of the administration and its supporters to the breakdown of the border in South Texas seems to have finally gotten a large share of the public to see what’s happening. Even the White House’s use of illegal-alien children as human shields for its anti-sovereignty policies has not managed to allay the increasing sense of alarm across the country.
Only a few peeps of concern have emanated from Democrats in Congress, most of whom are applauding the border breakdown. Republicans haven’t been much better. Rep. Paul Ryan and Sen. John McCain have taken the opportunity to repeat their support for amnesty and dramatic increases in immigration. Others at least are concerned, but have been distracted by the trivial issue of a 2008 anti-trafficking law, which does not even apply here.
In the absence of political leadership, the public is jumping out of the pot on its own. A new Gallup poll shows that immigration now tops the list of most important issues facing the country, higher than dissatisfaction with government, the economy, jobs or health care.
That concern is being expressed by ordinary citizens in their communities. Residents of Murrieta, Calif., were the first to act, blocking buses to prevent the relocation of illegal immigrants from the Texas border. Virtually the entire town of Lawrenceville, Va., came to a community meeting on relocating illegal-immigrant juveniles there, causing the federal government to back off. Similar resistance has happened in Vassar, Mich.; Oracle, Ariz.; Greece, N.Y.; Escondido, Calif.; and elsewhere.
The story isn’t over in those communities, where illegal immigrants have already been relocated. Come September, thousands of illegal-alien “minors” (many of them adults lying about their age) will be entering unprepared public schools, creating a new wave of outrage.
Perhaps one particular decision by the White House highlights how concerned the administration is about public reaction: As of now, not a single illegal-alien detainee seems to have been sent to Louisiana or Arkansas, the states bordering Texas that are closest to the site of the border deluge. This is no accident. Those two states have Democratic senators up for re-election who are vulnerable enough to lose, but who might still be able to prevail. The White House appears to have decided not to send any illegals there to avoid the potential for political damage.
The real tipping point comes in November. If the public stays outraged enough about the border situation, they should take it out on both Republicans and Democrats who don’t believe in our sovereignty and turn them out of office. Putting enough anti-illegal immigrant lawmakers in office is the only way to flip the playing field and get serious about border control.
Despite a first-of-its-kind-in-Europe ban on demonstrations in Paris, pro-Palestinian protestors gathered to demonstrate against Israel on Saturday. When police tried to break up the protest, rioters threw rocks and other debris while chanting “Israel, assassin.”
Protests in Paris were banned following the demonstration last weekend that ended up threatening two synagogues.
The government of President Hollande has come under fire for the ban, as far-left groups accused Hollande of favoring Israel while far-right groups criticized him for policies they say encourage lawlessness among immigrants.
The Wall Street Journal reports:
The clashes underscore a dilemma facing France’s Socialist government. President François Hollande has faced searing criticism in France—home to Europe’s biggest Muslim minority—for what pro-Palestinian groups say is his failure to take a stand against Israel’s incursions in the Gaza strip.
At the same time, Mr. Hollande is under pressure from even broader swaths of the French public, which blames minorities and immigrants for a perceived rise in violent crime and delinquency. The far-right National Front is garnering support by accusing Mr. Hollande’s ranks of being soft on crime and illegal immigration.
Saturday’s clashes occurred at the tail end of a large rally that had been called by several French political organizations, including the far-left New Anticapitalist Party, despite a French government ban.
The rally had been banned on Friday after government officials expressed concern that it could turn violent. Last Sunday, a similar rally in Paris sought to steer the march toward two synagogues and clashed with riot police, and eight arrests.
Earlier Saturday, French President François Hollande justified the decision to ban the rally at a news conference, saying groups have other ways to express themselves. “Those who want at any cost to protest will be held accountable,” he told TV cameras.
Nevertheless, French TV showed a large number of protesters showing up at 3 p.m., chanting and waving Palestinian flags under raised metro tracks. French television estimated between several hundred and several thousand people attended the rally at its peak, but the police official said the police didn’t immediately have any estimate.
The tension between the Muslim and Jewish populations in France has been building for years, which has led to many violent attacks. Reuters reports that “more Jews left France for Israel than at any other time since the Jewish state was created in 1948, with many citing rising anti-Semitism as a factor.”
Saturday’s demonstrations are not going to improve the situation.
As now seems likely, Moscow-backed separatists launched the missile that shot down a Malaysia airlines passenger plane flying near the Russian border.
Within minutes of the shootdown, rebels were on social media gloating about shooting down a Ukrainian cargo plane. But that posting, along with other damning evidence on Facebook and other sites, have been scrubbed by the rebels as they seek to cover up their involvement in the attack.
On Friday, the separatists blocked international monitors from the crash site, threatening members of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), and even firing shots to force them back. On Saturday, AP is reporting that the monitors got limited access, but that security was very tight.
Bociurkiw said the 24-member monitoring delegation was given some access Saturday to the crash site but their movements were being limited by the rebels. The site sprawls across sunflower and wheat fields between two villages in eastern Ukraine, encompassing eight square miles (20 square kilometers).
“We have to be very careful with our movements because of all the security,” Bociurkiw said. “We are unarmed civilians, so we are not in a position to argue with people with heavy arms.”
At issue for the monitors was the attempt by separatists, with the possible assistance of Russians, to remove evidence from the crash site:
The government in Kiev said militiamen have removed 38 bodies from the crash site and have taken them to the rebel-held city of Donetsk. It said the bodies were transported with the assistance of specialists with distinct Russian accents.
The rebels are also “seeking large transports to carry away plane fragments to Russia,” the Ukrainian government said in a statement.
In Donetsk, separatist leader Alexander Borodai denied that any bodies had been transferred or that the rebels had in any way interfered with the work of observers. He said he encouraged the international community to help with the cleanup before the bodies decay further.
As emergency workers loaded about 80 bodies of plane victims into bags Saturday, Bociurkiw stressed that his team was not at the site to conduct a full-scale investigation.
“We are looking at security on the perimeter of the crash site, looking at the status in the condition of the bodies, the status in the condition of the debris, and also personal belongings,” he said.
One passenger’s body was seen still strapped into an airline seat, with bare toes peeking out under long jeans. Another body was flung face-up into a field of blue flowers.
Ukraine also urged Moscow to insist that the pro-Russia rebels grant international experts the ability to conduct a thorough, impartial investigation into the downing of the plane – echoing a demand that President Barack Obama issued a day earlier from Washington.
“The integrity of the site has been compromised, and there are indications that vital evidence has not been preserved in place,” Malaysian Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai said at a news conference in Kuala Lumpur.
He called for immediate access for Malaysia’s team at the site to retrieve human remains.
The Guardian is reporting that there has been other efforts to destroy or remove evidence from the site:
There is also confusion over the black boxes and other devices apparently salvaged from the plane. A rebel military commander initially said he was considering what to do with them, while another rebel leader, Aleksandr Borodai, contradicting his colleague, said the rebels had no black boxes or any other devices.
The Ukrainian interior ministry added to fears of a cover-up when it released video purportedly taken by police showing a truck carrying a Buk missile launcher with one of its four missiles apparently missing, rolling towards the Russian border at dawn . The video could not be independently verified.
Other material on rebel social media sites was being deleted, including pictures showing the alleged capture of Buk missile vehicles by rebels from a Ukrainian air base last month.
Perhaps the most troublesome question that needs to be answered is did Russian technicians assist the rebels in launching the missile?
Defence analysts with Russian expertise shared Power’s scepticism that Russia-backed rebel groups would have had the expertise to fire the missile and suggested it was more likely to have been Russian ground troops who specialise in air defence, seconded to help the rebels.
At the Pentagon, officials said a motive for the operation had yet to be determined, as had the chain of command. One said it would be “surprising to us” if pro-Russia separatists were able to operate the Buk missile battery without Russian technical support. The Ukrainian military confirmed it has Buk batteries but said it had none in the area the missile was fired.
It would seem unlikely that militiamen would be capable of handling a sophisticated surface to air missile system by themselves. If it’s true that Russian technicians aided the separatists, then Russia bears equal responsibility for this war crime — something that would ratchet up the tension between Moscow and the US and could lead to crippling sanctions against Russia.
Is Putin able to control the separatists? He is still supplying them with arms, but it’s unclear how many local commanders are actually taking orders from Moscow. Whatever influence he possesses, he better use it now. If the shootdown did anything to the war, it placed the west even more firmly on Ukraine’s side and isolated Russia even more than they were. The prospect that the next round of sanctions may hit the already weakened Russian economy should galvanize Putin into forcing the rebels to the negotiating table.
It’s funny how we have to find this stuff out from Congress and not the administration.
A House Judiciary Committee report states that 65% of illegal alien children who have entered the U.S. this year have already been given asylum — without appearing before a judge. Once granted asylum, the border jumper is eligible for all welfare programs — including Obamacare.
Now, before you burst a blood vessel, you can relax. According to the Department of Homeland Security, 70% of asylum cases contain “proven or possible fraud.”
What a trusting government we have! Don’t you wish the IRS worked that way?
Now, new numbers released by the House Judiciary Committee show the “vast majority” of unaccompanied minors seeking asylum are granted it before even appearing before a judge. “Information from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) that shows 65 percent of unaccompanied alien minors’ asylum applications have been immediately approved by asylum officers in Fiscal Year 2014,” says a Judiciary Committee statement. “And this is just the first bite of the apple. Many more cases can be approved later. Where an asylum officer does not approve the application, it is then referred to an immigration judge where the applicant can try again. If that fails, they can continue to appeal their case.”
Sign Up for the Byron York newsletter!
The Judiciary Committee says asylum approval rates have “increased dramatically” under the Obama administration. Overall, according to the committee statement, “Approval rates by asylum officers have increased from 28 percent in 2007 to 46 percent in 2013 and approval rates by immigration judges in affirmative cases have increased from 51 percent in 2007 to 74 percent in 2013.” And that does not count appeals.
“Once individuals are granted asylum,” the report notes, “they have access to all major federal welfare programs.”
Complicating matters, according to the committee, is the rate of fraud in asylum cases. The committee says “an internal Department of Homeland Security report” has shown that “at least 70 percent of asylum cases contain proven or possible fraud.”
“President Obama’s refusal to crack down on rampant asylum fraud is one of the many reasons we are witnessing a surge of Central Americans seeking to enter the U.S. illegally at the border,” said the Judiciary Committee chairman, Republican Rep. Bob Goodlatte, in a statement. “New data showing that the vast majority of Central Americans’ asylum claims are immediately approved will only worsen the situation along our southern border by encouraging more to come and take advantage of the situation.”
Gee. Ya think? I guess the “my dog ate my proof that I deserve asylum” excuse is working pretty well.
I am perplexed. Why not just announce to the entire world that you can come to America and be granted asylum if you’re from anywhere there is violence, drugs, gangs, or bad weather? Why talk tough about sending these kids home and then turn around and grant them what amounts to blanket asylum?
The head of state of the most closed country in the world is lecturing the US about open borders.
Pope Francis jumped into the US border crisis saying the illegal alien children flooding across our borders should be “welcomed and protected.”
Read carefully what Francis is saying. The Argentine Pontiff is blaming the US for a situation that it didn’t create while smearing the American people who want the exact same thing that the city state of Vatican City enjoys; control over its borders.
“Many people forced to emigrate suffer, and often, die tragically,” the pope said in a message sent to a global conference in Mexico.
“Many of their rights are violated, they are obliged to separate from their families and, unfortunately, continue to be the subject of racist and xenophobic attitudes.”
The Argentine pontiff said a different approach is needed to tackling what he called a “humanitarian emergency” as growing numbers of unaccompanied children are migrating to the U.S. from Central America and Mexico.
“I would also like to draw attention to the tens of thousands of children who migrate alone, unaccompanied, to escape poverty and violence,” the pope said.
“They are increasing day by day. This humanitarian emergency requires, as a first urgent measure, these children be welcomed and protected.”
Perhaps his Holiness would list the rights of these kids that were being violated instead of reading talking points from the agenda of the anti-American third world. And they are not “obliged” to separate from their families. It is a deliberate strategy of the illegal aliens to send their children across the border alone so that the US is forced to take them, and later, “reunite” the families who are then settled in secret somewhere in the US.
And the Pope would do well to get specific about what “racist and xenophobic attitudes” are being exhibited. Simply put, there is no more xenophobic nation in the world than Vatican City. And the Pontiff should know that just because American citizens are crying out for their government to exercise its sovereign right to say who can come into our country and who can’t, that doesn’t mean that the United States is in any way “xenophobic. Xenophobic countries do not welcome more than 1 million legal immigrants every year, far more than any other country in the world.
There is no such thing as an illegal immigrant in Vatican City. You can’t even enter most of the city without a pass. Legal residency is reserved for less than 500 people. There’s no way to enter illegally because every vehicle is thoroughly searched.
Talk about violation of rights — in Vatican City, it is against the law to show your bare shoulders or bare knees. Your movements are restricted, your right to privacy ignored, and the application of their laws is arbitrary.
But this hasn’t prevented the Pope from lecturing the rest of us about “migrants”:
In his latest message, Francis said the fear and indifference of what he termed the “throwaway culture” should be replaced with a commitment to building a more just and fraternal world.
“These measures, however, will not be sufficient, unless they are accompanied by policies that inform people about the dangers of such a journey and, above all, that promote development in their countries of origin,” the pope said.
“This challenge demands the attention of the entire international community so that new forms of legal and secure migration may be adopted.”
The pope’s letter was sent to the Mexico-Holy See Colloquium on Migration and Development and presented by the papal nuncio to Mexico, Archbishop Christophe Pierre. The Vatican secretary of state, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, also attended the conference.
He can start us all off by reforming Vatican City. Then, perhaps, he can speak on an equal plane with the US who is trying its best to, if not “welcome” the illegal alien children who have shown up on our border, then treat them as humanely as is possible given the enormity of the challenges.
Attorney General Eric Holder told ABC News that “vehemence” in opposing the president and his policies is indicative of racism.
In other words, it’s OK to oppose the president. Just don’t do it too intensely if you want to avoid the racist tag.
“There’s a certain level of vehemence, it seems to me, that’s directed at me [and] directed at the president,” Holder told ABC. “You know, people talking about taking their country back. … There’s a certain racial component to this for some people. I don’t think this is the thing that is a main driver, but for some there’s a racial animus.”
Holder said the nation is in “a fundamentally better place than we were 50 years ago.”
“We’ve made lots of progress,” he said. “I sit here as the first African-American attorney general, serving the first African-American president of the United States. And that has to show that we have made a great deal of progress.
“But there’s still more we have to travel along this road so we get to the place that is consistent with our founding ideals,” he said.
He also stood by his controversial comments made during Obama’s first year in office, in which he said the U.S. was a “nation of cowards” when it comes to race.
“I wouldn’t walk away from that speech,” Holder said. “I think we are still a nation that is too afraid to confront racial issues,” rarely engaging “one another across the color line [to] talk about racial issues.”
The attorney general also pointed to Republican efforts to enact stricter voter ID laws in southern States as evidence that more needed to be done to protect minority rights. Republicans have maintained the efforts are designed to prevent voter fraud, while Democrats say instances of fraud are exceedingly rare, and far outpaced by the minority population that does not have identification that would be unable to vote.
Holder called the laws “political efforts” designed to make it “more difficult” for “groups that are not supportive of those in power” to “have access to the ballot.”
“Who is disproportionately impacted by them? Young people, African Americans, Hispanics, older people, people who, for whatever reason, aren’t necessarily supportive of the Republican Party,” Holder said, adding that “this notion that there is widespread in-person voter fraud is simply belied by the facts.”
It takes a truly self-absorbed man to think that the level of emotion engendered by opposition to public policies is somehow indicative of race hatred. But from Holder’s point of view, it makes perfect sense. Obviously, the president’s policies are good for the country. Obviously, the only reason to oppose them is because you don’t like the president’s race. Obviously, the madder you are at the president, the bigger the racist you are.
Holder’s delusions about the opposition have been exposed before, as evidenced by his repeated contentions that voter ID laws are meant to suppress the black vote. But to define racism as a measurement of how strenuously the opposition opposes his policies is absurd beyond belief. If passionate opposition is to be an indicator of one’s tolerance for other races, what does that say about blacks who go off the deep end when opposing the policies of a white politician?
If there’s one thing we’ve learned in nearly six years of having Eric Holder as attorney general, it’s his racial double standards. That last question is moot.
So the next time you go to a demonstration against President Obama, please remember to keep your emotions in check. And don’t scowl too much. And don’t scream too loud.
Be nice. Our AG will thank you for it.
The war of words between Senator Rand Paul and Governor Rick Perry escalated on Sunday when Perry again blasted Paul’s views on foreign policy in an interview with CBS News.
Perry wrote an op-ed for the Washington Post on Friday, saying that Paul’s “isolationist” policies were “curiously blind” and “wrong.”
Noting “the main problem with this argument is that it means ignoring the profound threat that the group now calling itself the Islamic State poses to the United States and the world,” the governor wrote. “. …This represents a real threat to our national security — to which Paul seems curiously blind — because any of these passport carriers can simply buy a plane ticket and show up in the United States without even a visa.”
Perry then picked apart an opinion piece Paul recently wrote in the Wall Street Journal arguing against U.S. military intervention in Iraq.
Writing that Paul went “so far as to claim…that President Ronald Reagan’s own doctrines would lead him to same conclusion,” Perry said, “his analysis is wrong. Paul conveniently omitted Reagan’s long internationalist record of leading the world with moral and strategic clarity.”
Paul responded through a spokesman with ridicule:
“Interesting to be lectured entirely in talking points though,” Stafford said. “His new glasses apparently don’t make him see the world any more clearly.”
And in a statement to CBS, Paul asked Perry, “How many Americans should send their sons and daughters to die for a foreign country, a nation the Iraqis won’t defend for themselves?”
The back and forth continued on Sunday with Perry’s CBS interview:
“He talks about basically, what I consider to be, isolationist policies,” Perry said. “And America can no longer come back onto the Continental United States, and draw a red line around the shore of America, and think that we’re somehow or another not going to be impacted.”
Perry, who got some good reviews from many Republicans this week confronting President Obama over the border crisis, used his heightened visibility to pick a fight with the GOP frontrunner. It’s a preview of the line of attack some candidates will take against Paul, who insists he’s not an isolationist — he’s a non-interventionist.
Appearing on CNN’s State of the Union, , Senator John McCain said he wasn’t going to take sides in the debate — and then proceeded to, well, take sides:
“Senator Paul is part of a wing of the [Republican] party that’s been there ever since prior to World War I … and that is a withdrawal to fortress America,” The Republican senator from Arizona said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “The things we’re seeing in the world today, in greater turmoil than at any time in my lifetime, is a direct result of an absence of American leadership, and we are paying a very, very heavy price.”
Paul is right when he says that many Republicans misunderstand his foreign policy vision — some, like Perry and McCain, deliberately so. Paul is no Robert Taft. He’s never advocated leaving the UN or breaking up NATO. But he has yet to impart a coherent set of principles in foreign policy that would ease the concerns of Main Street Republicans that he wouldn’t defend American interests beyond our borders if they came under attack.
If McCain and Perry exaggerate Paul’s non-interventionist stance, Paul inflates the McCain-Perry desire for more assertive leadership as something akin to military adventurism. Both sides would benefit if they realized they weren’t really that far apart and that their differences on substantive issues like Iraq aren’t enough to start a war over.
But a presidential campaign is all about highlighting differences so we can assume that Perry’s line of attack and Paul’s responses will be echoed many times over the next two years. It will be interesting to see if GOP voters give greater emphasis to a candidate’s position on foreign policy issues over the next few months. With all that’s happening in the world, it’s certainly a possibility.
Even more interesting will be Rand Paul’s efforts to convince Republicans he is not what Rick Perry and John McCain accuse him of being.
A bad weekend for the president at the National Governors Association meeting as both Democrats and Republicans took pot shots at the administration for their inaction in the border crisis, as well as being livid about the secret dumping of illegal aliens in their home states without being notified.
“I found out in the last 48 hours that approximately 200 illegal individuals have been transported to Nebraska [by the federal government],” said Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman, a Republican, in an interview. “The federal government is complicit in a secret operation to transfer illegal individuals to my state and they won’t tell us who they are.”
As thousands of unaccompanied minors have flocked to the United States in recent months, primarily from crime-wracked countries such as Guatemala and Honduras, the Obama administration has been sheltering them in federal facilities around the country while they await processing. U.S. Customs and Border Patrol estimates that more than 52,000 have crossed the border since Oct. 1, double the rate from a year earlier.
President Barack Obama has asked Congress for nearly $4 billion to deal with the crisis, and he’s warned parents in the migrants’ countries that their children may be sent back.
Obama’s approach has fractured Democrats’ political unity on the issue.
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton last month said the U.S. must “send a clear message [that] just because your child gets across the border doesn’t mean your child gets to stay.”
But on Friday, calls for mass deportation drew a rebuke from Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, a potential rival to Clinton for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination.
“I believe it is contrary to everything we believe as a people to summarily send children back to death,” O’Malley said at a press conference here alongside other Democratic governors. He said pictures of the children in the United States, after traveling for miles along dangerous routes, look more like scenes from a “local Humane Society than a humane country.”
Meanwhile, Heineman, a fierce Obama critic, endorsed the president’s message.
“We’re going to treat any person, particularly children, humanely while they’re here,” he said. “They should humanely and expeditiously be returned to their country of origin to their family.”
He said he’d been on the phone for days with the federal Department of Health and Human Services trying to learn the identity of the children sent to Nebraska and where they’re being housed.
“So far, the secretary’s office is saying they’re not willing to provide us the names of the individuals that the federal government is transporting to my state,” he said.
It’s not just the governors who are being left out of the loop. Senator Mark Kirk of Illinois complained on Friday that more than 400 illegal aliens had been dumped in the Chicagoland area. The government refused to tell him where they were and declined to run criminal background checks on them.
Oklahoma’s GOP Governor Mary Fallin mentioned the health of some of the 1,100 illegal aliens being housed at Fort Sill.
“We had one case of chicken pox. We’ve had many cases of scabies and lice,” Fallin said.
She added that there’s been no guidance about how long the children will be housed, whether they’re entitled to any taxpayer-funded benefits, from education to Medicaid to foster care. And she’s unsure whether they might be “let loose in the United States” once they turn 18.
“Those are all the questions and concerns that governors like myself,” she said. “They are children so we want to treat them very humanely, but we also have a lot of concerns.”
The government is moving these kids all over the country. Some of them seem to be ill with communicable diseases. But HHS and the Obama administration are refusing to say anything about these kids, and have not told the governors even how long they are expected to care for the children.
Not only is this an arrogant attitude on the part of the administration, it is also extremely dangerous. The government isn’t informing authorities into whose custody they are releasing these kids or even where they’re going. They could end up living a block from the state governor’s mansion and the chief executive would never know it.
Time for the governors to demand more transparency from the administration.
This makes me want to put my fist through the wall.
Illegal immigrants pouring across the border could trigger a wave of lawsuits flooding the U.S. court system for years and costing taxpayers millions, according to legal experts.
The American Civil Liberties Union has already sued the federal government to ensure that each of the 60,000-plus unaccompanied children who have come across the border since November gets taxpayer-funded representation at deportation hearings. But legal advocacy groups who represent illegal immigrants could file additional suits alleging improper treatment at the hands of the government. And with the system overwhelmed, there’s little doubt corners are being cut.
“You can bet there is a phalanx of left-wing lawyers trying to line up illegal alien plaintiffs,” said Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch.
Slow asylum hearing dockets — like those that have already prompted a class action suit on behalf of 40,000 illegal immigrants — are certain to get much worse, experts say. But every interaction between the government and the illegal immigrants pouring in could potentially trigger a cause of action if lawyers can prove the letter of the law was not followed.
Jessica Vaughn, director of policy studies at the Center for Immigration Studies, said there’s little the White House can do now that the children — most of whom are from Central America —are already here. Under U.S. law, kids from non-contiguous countries cannot be turned back at the border and must be granted deportation hearings.
“If we start sending these kids back to their home countries, there will be lawsuits galore,” said Vaughn. “We’re already seeing suits for conditions and denial of privileges. The sky’s the limit, it could be a nightmare.”
So, to sum up: These left-wing lawyers advocate for policies that cause the illegal-alien crush at the border in the first place and then enrich themselves by suing the government because the Feds are unprepared for the deluge.
Is this a great country, or what?
I have several descriptives I could use in venting my rage against these attorneys, but this is a family website and rather than write something that would get me fired, I will simply refer to them as garden variety pond scum.
We live in a suit-happy society, so I suppose we shouldn’t be surprised when lawyers take full advantage of an awful situation in order to gain notoriety and wealth. But that shouldn’t lessen our total contempt for the maggots who feed off of tragedy.
No doubt there is a special level of hell reserved for their kind.
Senator Marco Rubio is being called “an idiot” by the mayor of South Miami because he has differing views on climate change than the hysterics.
“Rubio is an idiot,” South Miami Mayor Philip Stoddard said, as quoted by The Guardian. “He says he is not a scientist so he doesn’t have a view about climate change and sea-level rise and so won’t do anything about it.”
Rubio, a potential 2016 presidential contender, has said that he doesn’t agree with the notion of man-made climate change.
“I do not believe that human activity is causing these dramatic changes to our climate the way these scientists are portraying it,” he said in a May interview on ABC’s “This Week.” “That’s what I do not — and I do not believe that the laws that they propose we pass will do anything about it. Except it will destroy our economy.”
Stoddard, who is also a biology professor, contrasted Rubio with his Democratic counterpart Sen. Bill Nelson, who Stoddard said has been holding field hearings where scientists can explain the significance of the data on sea-level rise and climate change to people.
In the Guardian, a geology professor paints a dire picture of Miami’s future:
“There has been a rise of about 10 inches in sea levels since the 19th century – brought about by humanity’s heating of the planet through its industrial practices – and that is now bringing chaos to Miami Beach by regularly flooding places like Alton Road,” says Harold Wanless, a geology professor at the University of Miami. “And it is going to get worse. By the end of this century we could easily have a rise of six feet, possibly 10 feet. Nothing much will survive that. Most of the land here is less than 10 feet above sea level.”
Note that the good professor actually believes in the boiling frog scenario — that city residents will sit there and watch as the waters rise above their head and they all die a horrible death (killed by global warming) without doing anything to save themselves. Most of Holland is 13 feet below sea level, but thanks to a series of dykes and dams, they’ve been able to thrive as a civilization for more than a thousand years. But Miami residents aren’t smart enough to protect themselves if it comes to that?
Note also the extreme range of sea level rise suggested by the professor — 6 to 10 feet. That’s a monumental difference in the scheme of things since a rise of 6 feet is far more manageable than 10 feet.
Also, the professor fails to inform us how much of that 10 inch rise in sea level was in the 19th century when there was a miniscule amount of industrial activity compared to today. Any rise in sea levels in the 19th century would not be due to humans so why include that time period except to make the rise seem more dramatic?
Any “solution” offered by climate hysterics is not going to lower greenhouse gas emissions by one single molecule as long as China is constructing dozens of coal fired electric plants every year.
If all they’ve got is name calling, their case for catastrophic global warming must be weak indeed.
The top secret operation to move illegal alien children from detention centers near the border to locations throughout the United States is continuing with the government now engaging Catholic churches to shelter the border jumpers until they can be processed and released.
The Daily Caller reports that a diocese in California is acting as a way station for the illegal children, housing them until other living arrangements are made elsewhere in the U.S.
The department “has reached out to the diocese and the bishop, and asked us to shelter families in transition,” Maria Christina Mendez, at the Office of Hispanic Affairs, told The Daily Caller. The services would be needed for the next 18 months, “or longer,” she said.
In response, the diocese has offered to let family groups of migrants stay at its buildings for up to three days, while they are being relayed by federal immigration agencies to cities and towns where they want to live, she said.
“Some of them are going to the East Coast, some of them are going all the way up north,” she told The Daily Caller.
The illegal inflow includes at least 100,000 people since October. Many are in so-called “family units” of adults and children.
Ordinary citizens are not informed of these arrangements, causing a lot of anger to be directed at authorities:
The diocese’ activities were exposed only after parishioners called into Rush Limbaugh’s radio show to protest the bishop’s agreement to provide shelter to the families for DHS.
“They have made the decision that they’re going to absorb the immigrants that are coming through because the federal government called the bishop’s office on Monday,” said one of the parishioners, named Ann. “The church will reimburse us for any out-of-pocket expenses and we were told not to talk to anybody about it, especially the media.”
They were told to be silent to prevent any local protests, Ann said. “They don’t want a lot of people there at the churches when they busload these mothers and children,” said Ann.
Another fait accompli involving the movement of illegal alien children occurred in the Chicago area where more than 400 illegals have been dumped by the government, according to Senator Mark Kirk.
Sen. Mark Kirk said today that 429 unaccompanied minors from the Mexican border crisis are in Chicago in the custody of a federal agency, and he wants to know if any of the children have criminal records.
Kirk, an Illinois Republican, said the children are in the custody of the Health and Human Services Department. His news release did not say where the children are being housed.
In the release, Kirk also said the State Department is “unable to confirm if any of these individuals has a criminal record or background.”
He added: “If any of these individuals has a criminal record in their home country, our government owes it to the American people to facilitate the sharing of records and reassure our nation that these individuals pose no threat.”
Kirk has written to the U.S. ambassadors in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador asking whether their embassies have done background checks on the “unaccompanied alien children” who have entered the U.S. at its southern border.
This is a prudent and sensible request. The Department of Homeland Security said in a report that 47% of the illegal alien children are young men between the ages of 14 to 17 — prime recruiting age for drug cartels. Also, it would not be unheard of for children growing up in such impoverished conditions to engage in a life of petty crime.
Don’t people have a right to know if the government is going to dump kids with a criminal record in their midst?
According to Illinois Rep. Gutierrez, apparently not…
The Center for American Progress — President Obama’s favorite think tank — has offered up a statistical analysis that “proves” the reason Central American children are fleeing their homes and coming to America is violence and not “deferred action” (amnesty).
An analysis of the available data suggests that:
Violence is among of the main drivers causing the increase. Whereas Central American countries that are experiencing high levels of violence have seen thousands of children flee, others with lower levels of violence are not facing the same outflow.
By contrast, the evidence does not support the argument that DACA or lax border enforcement has caused the increase in children fleeing to the United States.
Case closed, right? Whatever the statistics say, the Department of Homeland Security would beg to differ.
A DHS report leaked to Breitbart shows that Homeland Security believes the kids are coming here because they’ve been told they can stay — Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).
The report, identified as “De-Classified” and “Law Enforcement Sensitive,” reveals the fact that only 0.1 percent of the Central American minors illegally entering the U.S. having been deported in Fiscal Year 2013, down from two percent prior, plays a significant role in why the current border crisis is occurring. The DHS-ICE agency report admits the fact that 98 percent are allowed to stay is a significant draw for the minors to come into the United States. The agency acknowledges that conditions in Central America play a role in why the wave is occurring, but directly contradicts the assertion that such conditions are the only significant reason the crisis exists. The report directly contradicts any assertion U.S. government refusals to deport illegal immigrants is not a significant factor in why the crisis is occurring.
The report further reveals that Central American nations are doing little to curb the flow of illegal immigration to the U.S. and attributes the lack of efforts in the host nations to stop the flow to the nations wanting their nationals to send money back home from the United States. The report also indicates that family members from the host nations already residing in the U.S. is a major draw for the current crisis. This indicates that illegal aliens already within the U.S. are possibly drawing more to illegally migrate north.
The report states:
Migration pull factors include reunification with family members already in the United States and successful migration attempts; that is, most (98 percent) OTM UCs are issued a Notice to Appear and not immediately removed from the United States. Last year, only 1,700 UCs were repatriated to their home countries.” The report also clarifies the statement: HSI-Intel assesses with high confidence that reunification with family members already in the United States continues to be a pull factor for UCs from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.
The report also states:
No single factor causes OTM UC migration to the United States. Rather, several factors combine to cause this, including poor economies and violence in home countries, potential employment opportunities in the United States, family reunification, and success at not being immediately repatriated drive OTM UC migration to the United States. [Emphasis Added by Breitbart]
How much is violence to blame for the illegal human flood and how much is the prospect of being able to stay? It’s difficult to say. The CAP analysis suggests that countries that don’t have a lot violence don’t send their kids north in great numbers. That very well may be, but reduced violence also means a more stable, prosperous country. Even poor kids may have more opportunities in less violence prone countries, which may be a factor in their staying home.
Regardless, anecdotal evidence suggests that the promise of not being returned is a powerful “pull” in sending these kids north. The fact that in 2013, only 0.1% of illegal children were sent home would suggest that the word has gotten out about our lax immigration laws. With a better than 99% chance of staying if they get here. it seems worth the effort to come.
Former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin is one of the most prominent Republicans yet to call for the impeachment of President Obama.
In a column she wrote for Breitbart, Palin points to the current crisis on the border as “the last straw that makes the battered wife say, ‘no mas.’”
Without borders, there is no nation. Obama knows this. Opening our borders to a flood of illegal immigrants is deliberate. This is his fundamental transformation of America. It’s the only promise he has kept. Discrediting the price paid for America’s exceptionalism over our history, he’s given false hope and taxpayer’s change to millions of foreign nationals who want to sneak into our country illegally. Because of Obama’s purposeful dereliction of duty an untold number of illegal immigrants will kick off their shoes and come on in, competing against Americans for our jobs and limited public services. There is no end in sight as our president prioritizes parties over doing the job he was hired by voters to do. Securing our borders is obviously fundamental here; it goes without saying that it is his job.
The federal government is trillions of dollars in debt, many cities are on the verge of insolvency, our overrun healthcare system, police forces, social services, schools, and our unsustainably generous welfare-state programs are stretched to the max. We average Americans know that. So why has this issue been allowed to be turned upside down with our “leader” creating such unsafe conditions while at the same time obstructing any economic recovery by creating more dependents than he allows producers? His friendly wealthy bipartisan elite, who want cheap foreign labor and can afford for themselves the best “border security” money can buy in their own exclusive communities, do not care that Obama tapped us out.
As Palin points out, deliberately failing to protect the border is just one of Obama’s impeachable transgressions. PJ Media columnist Andrew McCarthy, author of Faithless Execution: Building the Political Case for Obama’s Impeachment, sums up the case in a Q&A that appears on his Amazon page:
Obama’s presidency is a willful, systematic attack on the constitutional system of separation of powers, an enterprise that aims to bring about a new regime of government by executive decree. This is exactly the kind of subversion the Framers designed the impeachment power to address. The Nixon and Clinton episodes involved misconduct that did not aim to undermine our constitutional framework.
In her column, Palin echoes these sentiments and adds that it’s not going to get any better:
President Obama’s rewarding of lawlessness, including his own, is the foundational problem here. It’s not going to get better, and in fact irreparable harm can be done in this lame-duck term as he continues to make up his own laws as he goes along, and, mark my words, will next meddle in the U.S. Court System with appointments that will forever change the basic interpretation of our Constitution’s role in protecting our rights.
It’s time to impeach; and on behalf of American workers and legal immigrants of all backgrounds, we should vehemently oppose any politician on the left or right who would hesitate in voting for articles of impeachment.
not quick or alert in perception, feeling, or intellect; not sensitive or observant; dull.
not sharp, acute, or pointed; blunt in form.
1. unfeeling, tactless, insensitive; blind, imperceptive, unobservant; gauche, boorish; slow, dim.
There is a scandal going on at the Internal Revenue Service, but it has nothing to do with Lois Lerner or her missing emails. House Republicans have not given up on their noisy crusade to tie Ms. Lerner to what they imagine to be widespread political corruption within the Obama administration, but all they have proved is that the I.R.S. is no better at backing up its computer files than most other government agencies.
No, the real scandal is what Republicans did to cripple the agency when virtually no one was looking. Since the broad Tea Party-driven spending cuts of 2010, the agency’s budget has been cut by 14 percent after inflation is considered, leading to sharply reduced staff, less enforcement of the tax laws and poor taxpayer service.
As the economist Jared Bernstein noted recently in The Washington Post, a weakened I.R.S. enforcement staff will be unable to make a dent in the $385 billion annual gap between what taxpayers owe and what they pay — an unintended tax cut, mostly for the rich, that represents 11 percent of this year’s spending. Middle-class taxpayers who struggle to fill out their 1040s may welcome a diminished threat of an audit, but in fact this reduction is not about them. The I.R.S. audits a far higher percentage of tax returns from people reporting incomes over $200,000 than from those reporting less, because that is where the money is (along with the most profitable cheating).
But in 2013, it audited only 24 percent of returns over $10 million, compared with 30 percent in 2010. Of returns reporting between $1 million and $5 million, it audited 16 percent in 2013, compared with 21 percent in 2010. That is great news for the nation’s highest-income taxpayers, many of whom donate generously to Republican politicians to keep their taxes low. They are getting their money’s worth from lawmakers who debilitate revenue collection while claiming to be deeply worried about the budget deficit.
But it is bad news for building roads, keeping the air clean, protecting the nation’s security, and countless other vital government tasks. Revenue collected by I.R.S. enforcement actions has fallen by more than $4 billion over the last four years, according to a new report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. And every dollar spent on enforcement yields $6 in additional revenue. Many I.R.S. computers use obsolete Windows XP operating systems and cannot keep up with a growing problem of identity theft that is directing refunds to criminals.
What a despicable piece of tripe. The entire government may be deficient at backing up computer files. But only Lois Lerner is the subject of a congressional investigation trying to get to the bottom of what might be the most egregious misuse of the IRS as a political weapon since the days of Richard Nixon. We don’t know how bad the IRS acted because Lois Lerner — and 6 other IRS employees — said their hard drives crashed and the agency says the information is irretrievable. The fact that this doesn’t elicit even a raised eyebrow from the Times is inexplicable unless you attribute their attitude to ideological and partisan animus directed against Republicans.
As for budget cuts interfering with IRS audit capabilities and its ability to hound taxpayers, rich and poor, something else endemic to government besides poor record keeping is poor management and allocation of resources. As we saw during the sequester nonsense, when forced to choose, government managers were able to make things work by reallocating personnel and their budgets. I suppose if you make it a priority for IRS managers to attend ritzy conferences at swanky hotels, you’re not going to have enough leftover to audit billionaires.
Perhaps if the IRS didn’t expend the effort to target conservative groups, they might save enough to audit a few Democrats.
I can just see the Times editorial staff giggling when writing this idiocy. Won’t we tick those right wingers off? Well, you got our attention. And for anyone above the age of seven with one or two working brain cells, you’ve also demonstrated a towering conceit that would be shocking if we didn’t already know that the paper is besotted with partisan rancor.
Texas Governor Rick Perry has had enough of administration inaction on the border, and has lashed out at President Obama for the predicament his state finds itself in.
Texas is on the front line of the flood of illegal alien children — 60,000 of whom have crossed the border just since October. The governor pointed out that he warned the administration about the problem more than a year ago — and the White House didn’t bother to respond.
Speaking on ABC’s “This Week,” Perry pointed to a letter he sent in May, 2012, that raised concerns about the flow unaccompanied minors. Perry said there was no response from the administration.
“They either are inept or don’t care,” Perry said. “I have to believe that when you do not respond in any way, that you are either inept or you have some ulterior motive.”
“This is a failure of diplomacy, this is a failure of leadership,” he added.
Perry said he does not believe that President Obama “cares whether or not the border of the United States is secure,” adding that “we are paying a huge price.”
Perry said Obama’s comments urging Central American parents not to send their children to the U.S. are coming “about five years too late.”
Perry rejected a comment from U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Gil Kerlikowske, who in an interview earlier in the program said officials were confident they have enough resources.
“He is absolutely and totally wrong,” Perry said.
Perry said last Thursday that the Southern border is less secure today than at any time during the recent past. During a House Homeland Security field hearing in McAllen, Texas, Perry testified that the huge surge of child immigrants streaming over the border has sucked up border patrol resources, forcing agencies to deal with the humanitarian crisis and diverting them away from protecting national security.
Perry again invited President Obama to tour the border on his trip to the state next week, saying the experience would make the president “realize this is bigger than politics.”
The administration’s plan to change the law to allow for quicker deportations of minors from Central America is meeting fierce resistance from immigration activists. The 2008 law gives unaccompanied children from Central America the ability to stay in the country almost indefinitely waiting for a hearing:
First, the Border Patrol must hand them over to the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement. HHS must “engage the services of child welfare professionals to act as child advocates and make recommendations regarding custody, detention, release and removal, based upon the best interest of each child,” according to a summary of the law prepared by its main sponsor, Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein. The department must also provide pro bono legal services to the children. It must ensure that any detained child is “placed in the least restrictive setting possible.” It must conduct home studies to facilitate placement. And so on.
“The problem is that under current law, once those kids come across the border, there’s a system in which we’re supposed to process them, take care of them, until we can send them back,” Obama told ABC a few days ago. “It’s a lengthy process.”
It certainly is. And it was never designed to handle a mass influx. Immigration authorities removed somewhere between 1,000 and 2,000 children in this way last year. The administration’s own estimate is that 90,000 will come this year — more than 52,000 are already here. The number could grow even larger next year.
“Every child that is here today — I cannot imagine, at least under this administration, them being removed,” says one GOP Hill aide who works on the issue.
The president says he wants to change the law to allow the minors from Central America to be treated the same as children who illegally cross the border from Mexico or Canada: immediate deportation after a brief interview with an immigration official.
But immigration activists are balking at any change in the law and it is unlikely that Democrats in the Senate would vote to oppose them. Hence, Perry’s concerns that the president doesn’t care about border security seem justified.
The president has no plans to visit the border, despite his upcoming visit to Texas this week. Instead, the president will hold a fundraiser in Dallas and visit Austin the next day for more fundraising. For a man dealing with what most consider a humanitarian crisis, our president seems to be able to find time to make it “business as usual” for himself.
A group of Seattle area businesses have gathered 20,000 signatures to place a charter amendment on the November ballot that would repeal the $15 an hour minimum wage bill recently passed by the city council.
Instead, the amendment proposes that the minimum wage eventually be raised to $12.50 by 2020, with an increase to $10.10 an hour in January 2015.
Forward Seattle, which represents restaurants, retailers and other businesses, launched the petition drive in order to save Seattle jobs and businesses from moving out of the city. But there have been complaints from activists that the paid signature gatherers misrepresented what the petition was about. They allege that petition signers were told that the referendum would be on approving a $15 minimum wage, not opposing it.
The signature-gathering effort has been clouded by allegations that paid signature gatherers have misrepresented what the referendum would do, telling some prospective signers that it would raise the minimum wage or that the city ordinance adopting the $15 minimum isn’t official yet.
King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg today forwarded complaints of fraudulent claims by Forward Seattle signature gatherers to the Seattle City Attorney’s office and the Seattle police for investigation. Satterberg said that the allegations constitute potential gross misdemeanors and so fall under the city’s jurisdiction, not the county’s.
Such is the gamble in using low-paid signature gatherers. Sometimes, they are paid by the signature; in other cases, by the hour. The workers are only as honest as the companies that employ them. We’ll have to see how this works out.
For the first time in 40 years, the United States leads the world in crude oil production. In a report issued yesterday by Bank of America Corp., “U.S. production of crude oil, along with liquids separated from natural gas, surpassed all other countries this year with daily output exceeding 11 million barrels in the first quarter.”
“The U.S. increase in supply is a very meaningful chunk of oil,” Francisco Blanch, the bank’s head of commodities research, said by phone from New York. “The shale boom is playing a key role in the U.S. recovery. If the U.S. didn’t have this energy supply, prices at the pump would be completely unaffordable.”
Oil extraction is soaring at shale formations in Texas and North Dakota as companies split rocks using high-pressure liquid, a process known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. The surge in supply combined with restrictions on exporting crude is curbing the price of West Texas Intermediate, America’s oil benchmark. The U.S., the world’s largest oil consumer, still imported an average of 7.5 million barrels a day of crude in April, according to the Department of Energy’s statistical arm.
U.S. oil output will surge to 13.1 million barrels a day in 2019 and plateau thereafter, according to the IEA, a Paris-based adviser to 29 nations. The country will lose its top-producer ranking at the start of the 2030s, the agency said in its World Energy Outlook in November.
“It’s very likely the U.S. stays as No. 1 producer for the rest of the year” as output is set to increase in the second half, Blanch said. Production growth outside the U.S. has been lower than the bank anticipated, keeping global oil prices high, he said.
Partly as a result of the shale boom, WTI futures on the New York Mercantile Exchange remain at a discount of about $7 a barrel to their European counterpart, the Brent contract on ICE Futures Europe’s London-based exchange. WTI was at $103.74 a barrel as of 4:13 p.m. London time.
That crude price would be a lot higher if not for the boom in the US. The situation in Iraq and Syria would ordinarily have sent prices through the roof. But the increase in supply thanks to the US has moderated prices somewhat.
They would drop even more if we allowed crude oil exports:
A U.S. Commerce Department decision to allow the overseas shipment of processed ultra-light oil called condensate has fanned speculation the nation may ease its four-decade ban on most crude exports. Pioneer Natural Resources Co. and Enterprise Products Partners LP will be allowed to export condensate, provided it is first subject to preliminary distillation, the companies said June 25.
The decision was “a positive first step” to dispersing the build-up of crude supply in North America, Bank of America said in a report on June 27. The U.S. could potentially have daily exports of 1 million barrels of crude, including 300,000 of condensate, by the end of the year, according to a June 25 report from Citigroup Inc.
North America is poised to become the “New Middle East” in oil production, with a projected doubling of output from Mexico, the US, and Canada to exceed 20 million bbl a day by 2020. Some analysts believe that to be an underestimate. Canada’s tar sands revolution, the US shale boom, and the deregulation of the Mexican oil industry that will allow foreign companies access to some of the biggest untapped oil fields left in the world, promises to make North America a hub of energy production for the coming decades.